5 Alternatives to Your Vanilla Photography

5 Alternatives to Your Vanilla Photography

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little tired of doing the same old thing with my photos.

I mean, there’s a lot of beautiful scenery nearby that gives me all sorts of chances to take some pretty good landscape photos.

But occasionally, even the most beautiful sunset or gorgeous beach doesn’t trip my trigger, so to speak.

As in life, in photography, spicing things up now and again and trying new things is a great way to expand your horizons and reinvigorate your creativity.

The question is, what approaches can you take to explore different ways of creating a photo?

I’ve put together a list of five tried-and-true strategies that will allow you to give something new and different a try, and help you learn new photography skills at the same time.

Let’s take a look…

Selective Color

I know what you’re thinking…

Selective color is a total photography cliche, something that had its heyday ten years ago and then took its place among things to never do with your photos.

BUT, you have to admit that selective coloring is a unique way of creating an image, and one that takes a heck of a lot of time in post-processing.

Thinking about color and honing your post-processing skills aren’t bad things, either.

In fact, even if your selective color images never see the light of day, you can at least use the process as a way to develop your creative eye. See how you can use selective coloring to your advantage in the video below from Wacom:

By using this process, when you survey a scene, you’ll end up taking the time to notice elements that might benefit from selective coloring. Taking your time is a good thing!

For example, in the image at the beginning of this section, the photographer hand-picked which rubber bands got the selective coloring. That means they had to determine which ones (and how many) would generate the most pleasing final image.

Note how in this case, the level of coloring is just right – it’s not so much that it’s overwhelming, but there’s also enough that gives the ball of rubber bands that extra bit of pop that draws in the eye.

Black and White

It’s classic photography at its best…

Black and white photography is the oldest type, yet it still makes a significant impact when done well.

The difficulty in creating a compelling black and white image like the one above is in “seeing in black and white.”

That means that for most of us who have color vision, we have to learn how to look for the things that make a black and white photo better.

That includes areas of highlight and shadow, textures, patterns, and shapes.

Note how the flower in the image above embodies all of these elements: some of its petals are beautifully illuminated while others are cast in shadow, giving the image the dynamic range it needs to capture the interest of the eye. What’s more, the texture and shape of the petals give the eye something compelling to inspect in the absence of color. The pattern the petals create is yet another layer of visual interest to delight the eye.

The same concepts hold true for landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits – use light, shadow, texture, patterns, and shapes to help you create a more compelling photo

In the portrait above, notice how the sidelighting gives the image the areas of highlight and shadow that are needed to indicate depth.

What’s more, think about this: if this image were in color, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to view. The plain background would present as a solid wall of color, and with a relatively non-descript look on his face, the model wouldn’t exactly be all that eye-catching either.

However, by manipulating the light, you get interesting shadows and highlights, which in turn create eye-catching shapes for our eyes to inspect.

HDR

Not all that long ago, creating an HDR (high dynamic range) image required post-processing magic.

Nowadays, all you need is a smartphone, and you’ve probably got an HDR setting right there at your fingertips.

The nice thing about HDR is that it allows you to overcome a range of shadows to highlights that’s too much for your camera to handle.

That is, if your camera encounters a scene with a lot of highlights and shadows, a typical image might be exposed for the highlights, making the shadow areas underexposed, or exposed for the shadows, making the highlighted areas overexposed.

HDR addresses that issue because it combines several images into one, each of which is exposed for a different part of the scene’s dynamic range.

In the image above, the HDR process took one image that was exposed for the dark areas, like the face of the bridge, one for the midtones, and one for the highlights of the sky, and combined them into one shot in which we get the best exposure for all three areas.

So, essentially, HDR tries to replicate what our eyes do automatically and create an image that has shadows, midtones, and highlights, all of which are well-exposed.

If you use your phone, all that is done for you automatically – you don’t have to combine or process the images.

However, if you shoot with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll have to combine the photos in post-processing.

Check out the video above by PHLEARN to get an in-depth look at how to create an HDR photo in Lightroom.

Time-Lapse Photography

Something that the first three types of photos have in common is that they are all relatively straightforward.

When it comes to time-lapse photography, though, many people think that it’s simply too hard or requires too much expensive gear to get good results.

That’s just not the case!

What makes time-lapse photography such an interesting type of photography to undertake is that you can compress hours and hours of time into just a handful of seconds, giving you the ability to show the movement of clouds, water, or other movement.

That’s a unique way to approach photography that’s sure to grab the attention of viewers, like the video above by Keith Liew.

What’s more, time-lapse photography has never been so simple and affordable.

One of the best ways to capture stunning time-lapse videos (and real-time videos and panoramas too!) is the Syrp Genie Mini.

This little hockey-puck shaped device gives you smooth panning motion control that you can adjust right from your smartphone.

You literally just mount the Genie Mini to your tripod, mount your camera to the Genie Mini, connect the Mini and your camera, and you’re ready to go.

The accompanying smartphone app allows you to determine everything you need to get gorgeous time-lapses.

What’s more, the app comes loaded with time-lapse presets, so even if you’ve never taken a time-lapse in your life, you can make one easily with the Syrp Genie Mini.

You can also create HDR time-lapse videos, so you won’t have to worry about your camera struggling with the dynamic range as it takes the frames for your video. Talk about a great way to enhance your photos!

Plotagraph

If we’re talking about innovative ways to change your photos, I have to say, Plotagraph Pro is my favorite.

Here’s why…

First of all, Plotagraph Pro is a web-based platform that lets you take a single still image and add dynamic looping content to it.

As you can see in the image above, that little bit of motion goes a long way in terms of creating something that’s jaw-droppingly beautiful.

That means that you can create a stunning motion graphic that not only grabs the attention of viewers more so than a regular static image but is a unique way of portraying your creative vision as well.

See that image above? Now look at it below with the Plotagraph treatment…

Talk about a transformation!

Essentially, Plotagraphs capitalize on the way we interact with content these days, and the way we do that is with dynamic – not static – content.

But the other great thing about Plotagraph Pro is that it’s an online environment in which creativity is shared and inspiration gained.

If you join Plotagraph Pro, you have access to training from some of the world’s best artists and photographers, a platform for sharing your Plotagraphs, and more.

What’s more, Plotagraph Pro gives you tutorials, cloud storage for your Plotagraphs, and even portfolio space for sharing your creations.