6 crazy tricks for digital cameras and photos

Draw images with light on your photos, make time-lapse video from a lowly point-and-shoot, fix your stereo with your digicam, and more fun tricks.

Draw Messages With Light on Live Photographs

If your digital camera offers a manual shutter speed, you can use LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to write messages in a long exposure. The whimsical results have more personality than Photoshop tricks, and you can share them instantly from the camera.

Because LEDs shine very brightly, yet in a concentrated area, they work better for this trick than other light sources (such as ordinary flashlights or a cell phone).


Use a small LED flashlight or buy LEDs from RadioShack and attach them to 3-volt disc batteries. Mount your camera on a tripod or a steady table, and set it for a long exposure. Play with the settings: I got good results at f/20, with exposure times of 20 seconds or more. If there isn't much ambient light, don't worry about leaving the shutter open too long; those lengths just give you more time to draw. While the shutter is open, sketch through the air with the LEDs. You can even fire the camera's flash--or shoot with another flash, such as on a different camera--to illuminate people in the foreground. --Zack Stern

Use Long Exposures for Crazy Camera Effects

Stop shooting pictures that all look the same. You can set a longer shutter time to control a photograph's final look.

Nature scenes: Try this trick when you're shooting a waterfall, an ocean beach, or even rustling leaves. Mount the camera on a tripod or set it on a stable surface. Put it in shutter-priority mode, and try a time of about 2 to 5 seconds. (Shutter priority is often abbreviated with Tv--literally, "time value"--or S on a camera mode dial. Check your camera's manual.) Use a remote to press the shutter button to avoid shaking the camera, or rely on the self-timer feature. Water, leaves, and other moving objects will gently blur together.


People or animals in motion: For another trick, try a handheld shot of a moving person or animal with a slightly longer shutter speed than normal. If you can match the subject by pivoting or walking alongside them, the background will blur, as shown in the photo here, but the foreground will stay in focus. Use shutter-priority mode again, and try a shutter speed of about 1/20 of a second. Mix in a burst of the flash--even in daylight--to further sharpen the foreground subject. --Zack Stern

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags photographydigital cameras

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zack Stern and Dave Johnson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?