By Pedro Tavares
The zoom effect is a technique that, although simple from a technical point of view, requires some practice to master. Basically, it consists of pressing the shutter and rotating the zoom at the same time, to obtain a very interesting movement effect around the chosen main subject.
The main objective is to have the subject in focus, while the surroundings will have a “speed” effect, or the dragging of light elements. The zoom can be made in both directions, to or from the subject.
There are two main ways to achieve this effect: with a static subject or with a moving subject.
Photographing a static subject
To photograph a static subject, we must use a slow shutter speed. The use of a quality tripod is fundamental (it will last many years and will produce great results). The turning of the zoom must be made as softly as possible, to avoid camera shake. Start turning the zoom before you press the shutter, and continue to turn after the shutter closes. It takes some practice, but the results are worth it.
During the day, with more light, you should use a small aperture (f/11, f/22, or smaller), and an ISO as low as you can, so you can use a slower shutter speed, around 1/15 to 1 second (or even slower, according to the light conditions). Using a polarizing filter is an option you should consider, to cut further stops of light.
Center the subject, in this case forgetting about the rule of thirds. You can always crop the image later if you want to.
Photographing a moving subject
These are harder to get images, but that produce great results. If we want to photograph a moving subject the technique is very similar. You won’t use a tripod, and the shutter speed will be faster (1/60 to 1/125 or faster) to freeze the moving subject. If the subject is coming towards us, keep it inside the focus point. Don’t forget to change the focus mode so it follows the moving subject. Then follow that movement, as you turn the zoom and take several photos.
Don’t give up after the first few attempts. Try different combinations, and you will get very interesting results with this ‘speed’ effect or other effects you wish to create to get the image you have visualized.
This post was written by Pedro Tavares, a photography aficionado for several years now. See more of his work at http://www.pedro-tavares.com/