How To: Zoom Zoom

Looking up at trees and the sky

I was outside with my camera all day yesterday and came up with some really cool images just by playing around with shutter speeds, a zoom lens, and body movements. The technique for these shots is really easy to do. All you need is a zoom lens and the ability to shoot with slow shutter speeds of around a half-second or slower.

The subject matter can be anything colorful you may come across. Groupings of flowers is a great place to start. Looking up at trees and the sky also works well. I have even used a pile of multi colored bags of garden soil as a subject.

Bags of garden soil

Here’s how you accomplish this effect. Set you camera to the lowest ISO setting available. This will help in getting slow shutter speeds. Then, in manual mode, adjust your shutter speed to around a half-second or so. Meter the scene, and close down the aperture to get a proper exposure.

Autumn flowers

If it’s really bright where your subject is, you may need to use a neutral density filter or even a polarizer to cut down on some of the light to get a decent exposure. If you are shooting in the shade, you will probably be fine without a filter. Focus on your subject at the widest setting on your zoom. As you click the shutter, zoom to the longest setting, and rotate the camera in the opposite direction you rotated the lens. Or you can zoom in and just rotate your body.

Play around with different shutter and aperture settings, and / or camera and body rotation to see what works best for you. This can become rather addictive, so be sure you have plenty of room on your data cards! And try not to spin around too much as you are looking at the sky…you may get dizzy. I speak from experience. Ahem.


  1. September 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Very nice!

    • September 25, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Hey thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed these!

  2. September 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Talk about pushing the boundaries with your camera…really awesome colors for the fall season!

    • September 25, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Thanks Jack, it’s a lot of fun and really easy to do. Just play and enjoy the results!

  3. September 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    This is just too cool!

    • September 25, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Aren’t these fun?! The possibilities are endless and you don’t have to sit in front of a computer to get the results. Slow shutter speeds and camera movement create all kinds of neat abstract patterns. Sideways, up and down, rotate, spin…etc!

  4. September 25, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Very interesting effects!

    • September 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Thanks Montucky, let your imagination run wild…I was playing yesterday with slow shutter speeds, and close-up shots of white pine needles that were still on the tree blowing in the wind. They look dreamy and even more wispy than when there is no breeze. Pretty cool stuff huh?!

  5. September 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Sounds soo techinal πŸ™‚ Very cool shots – it can be anything! πŸ™‚ Love the coulours πŸ™‚

  6. September 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Woops I mean ‘technical’ πŸ™‚

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Honestly it’s not technical at all…slow shutter..proper exposure or at least close, move camera. Simple. Try it, I think you will have a bunch of fun!

  7. September 25, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Sounds like fun! Thanks for the tip, David! I might give this one a try πŸ™‚
    Your photos came out great!

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      It really is fun because you never really know what the results will be. I even shot several subjects multiple times and they all look completely different. You can even do this indoors!

  8. September 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

    WOW! You got a wonderful colours… Fascinated me what you did dear David, Thank you, love, nia

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks Nia, you should try this. It’s easy and fun and the patterns you create are always different!

  9. Nandini
    September 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Wow, so much interesting! I totally loved the last two pictures. Nice work. πŸ™‚

    • September 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks Nandini, the best part is you can use anything for a subject. Try it…you’ll be surprised at what you get!

  10. September 25, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Nice tutorial – and I agree with Nandini, the last two shots are particularly effective.

    • September 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks JP. The last two photos are groupings of Autumn flowers…Mums and Asters. I even did a few with pumpkins. Then I couldn’t stop myself…shot a few of the garden bench on our patio, our two dogs, the quilt I was sitting on….

  11. September 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Very cool! The colors are great!
    I tried something like this before and my results were hideous. But I might have to give it another try and practice a lot more.

    • September 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks Fergie, I think you should try this again. I imagine you would write something amazing to accompany the photo. Besides…if you don’t like how one comes out…delete and try again!

  12. September 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I can see palm trees in the first image.

    • September 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Ahh I see you are dreaming of warmer climes…It actually is a maple tree and I was looking skyward as I spun around.

      • September 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        Oops I hit post comment by accident. Anything will work…even mono-toned objects. All you have to do is give it a go!

  13. Jo Woolf
    September 26, 2012 at 3:53 am

    These are incredible! I’m pretty sure if I tried it the results would be far more random!

    • September 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Randomness…that’s the best part…every shot will be different. Timing is a big part and sometimes it doesn’t work. Push shutter and zoom and / or rotate camera or body too late or do all of the above too early. Either way yo will get some cool stuff!

  14. September 27, 2012 at 1:06 am

    awesome…. love #3 the best !

    • September 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Pretty cool huh?! It’s real easy to do and addictive…and no post processing. It was tough to decide which ones to post!

  15. September 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Absolutely cool! Got to try this myself!!

    • September 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Oh and you will have fun…betcha ya can’t stop with just a few! I created a monster in myself!

  16. September 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    These are very nice – great colours and beautiful patterns! Sadly, I only have prime lenses or I would try this. I have tried motion induced abstractions, sometimes accidentally (!), and there is lots that can be done that way too.

    • September 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks Ehpem, I too have tried/created motion induced abstracts by accident using primes. The effects are different than these illustrated, but fun also. It’s good to play!

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