1. Use an orb
A crystal ball lens not only trains you to look at a scene differently and challenges your core skills, but it’s simply good fun to use and guarantees interesting landscapes or portraits. Hold the ball in front of your lens and use the refraction within it as your focal point – it takes some practice to find the right focal length, aperture and to position the ball for best results, but we know you love a challenge!
We’ve a great tutorial in our next issue of Digital SLR Photography (out Tuesday 13 August) that explains precisely how to use a crystal ball lens for portraits – just one more brilliant reason to pick up a copy next week or to subscribe today!
2. Go low
Dress to get down and dirty and focus on the details from a new angle. Look for strong lines to control the composition and ways to use as leading lines from the foreground; bridges, jetties, lines in the road and ripples in the sand all make strong foreground interest from ground level. You could also just as simply lie on your stomach with a wide aperture set and allow the soft focus of the foreground aid in adding depth to your scene.
3. Look for reflections
Instead on photographing what’s directly in front of you, look for ways to photograph the scene reflected in something else; it could be as simple as a puddle or the reflection in glass. A polarising filter can help reduce any unwanted glare to clarify any reflection but be careful when you adjust it that you don’t remove the reflection entirely. You’ll need to play with your camera angle too to maximise the reflection, for instance the best reflections in puddles are caught when shooting low to the ground.
4. Look up
When in a city, you could be missing a whole load of potential just looking at what’s within your vision. Set up a tripod and point your lens to the sky to use high-rise buildings as strong compositional lines and minimalist cityscapes – pair with an ND filter on a breezy day to capture cloud movement or look out for a passing plane for quick focal point. Try the same approach in a forest with a wide-angle lens to also utilise trees’ imposing converging verticals.
5. Look for frames
It’s trickier than it sounds. Once you’ve found the scene you want to photograph, look for unconventional ways to frame it – not only will it strengthen the focus on the scene but will simulate depth in your photograph. Anything you can shoot through will work.