Photo Challenge 6: ‘Zoom Burst' by John Arnold

We´ve reached the final photography challenge! We would like to thank our readers for the phenomenal amount of entries and the challenge setters for the amazing knowledge they shared with us. Join us for our last challenge "Zoom Burst", brought to you by John Arnold from PhotoWalkthrough.

18 Aug 2013

Congratulations to everyone who has made it this far, we know these photography challenges have tough. This is the sixth and final in our series of photography challenges for your chance to win a 'One Day Photography Course' and one of six Nikon Coolpix S6500  cameras!

Our last challenge is a fun one and who better to set the challenge than the host of, John Arnold. Below is his guide to 'Shooting Zoom Burst Pictures' to help you on your way. When you've got the perfect shot, enter, through the Currys Facebook page.

Photo Challenge 6 

'Shooting Zoom Burst Pictures'

For this challenge you'll need a camera with a zoom lens or a Photo editing tool (Photoshop Elements will do). We're going to shoot some dramatic action using the Zoom Burst technique. That means zooming the zoom lens on your camera while the shutter is open. This technique works great for subjects that are moving where you want to emphasise that motion. It also works on colourful subjects like toys or flowers and it can be very effective with night scenes with point light sources like a cityscape or fireworks. It also makes fun portraits!


Schooby Zoom


Shooting tips 

There are two key things to get right for a good zoom burst. First of all you'll need a slow shutter speed. 1/20th of a second is a good place to start. You can use Tv mode on a Canon camera or S mode on a Nikon camera. That lets you choose the shutter speed manually. Turn the control wheel until you see "20" on the display. The camera should choose an appropriate aperture to give a good exposure. It might give you a warning by flashing the number or the meter if it can't choose a suitable aperture. In that case change the ISO on your camera up or down until the warning goes away.

The second key to getting good zoom burst shots is to use a tripod. You'll be shooting at a very slow shutter speed so to get nice clean zoom lines it helps to have the camera steady. You *can* get good zoom bursts hand-held but your hit rate will be dramatically better with a tripod.


little girl


Once you're all set with your shutter speed and a tripod you need to pick the spot in your scene that you want to keep in focus. Put the centre of your composition where you want to keep that focus. Eyes are always a good choice if you're shooting people.


Shooting a zoom burst with a zoom lens


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Now all you need to do is start turning the zoom control on your lens and press the shutter. Turn the zoom faster for more zoom effect. Or select a slower shutter speed such as 1/10th of a second.


Zoom bursts using Photoshop 

Adding a zoom burst effect is easy using Photoshop or Photoshop elements. Choose a picture and in the Filter menu choose Blur and then Radial Blur. A small window will pop up letting you select either radial or zoom blur modes. You can also click on the little preview on the right to drag the centre point around. Choose an amount (30 is a good starting point) and click OK to apply the effect.


Making a zoom burst with Photoshop


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For extra credit you could apply the radial blur to a copy of your background layer and use a layer mask to return sharpness to any other important areas of the image such as faces.


BMX flying


Making zoom bursts with Photoshop gives you much more creative control over your final image. But doing it in-camera with a zoom lens is way more fun! 

Visit  PhotoWalkthrough for more of John's  tutorials and join him on  Facebook,  Twitter and Google Plus.

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