As we mentioned in our article “New Trends in Photography This 2019,” the world is already moving toward video. But you’re a still photographer wondering if it’s all going to pass you by like some crazy time lapse.
But don’t worry, the good news for all photographers is you can already add some motion to spice things up. Then you can show the world you still photographers can keep up with this trend.
We listed the top 3 applications which offer stunning effects without having to put too much effort. And there’s plenty of online tutorials for all of them so you can master how they are used.
A lot of people don’t realize that Photoshop has allowed you to import and work on a video. The reason this is so great is that Photoshop is a much more intuitive, and deep, program for photographers. We’re already used to doing our masks, layers, and retouching in it. Putting a bit of motion into an image using their Timeline feature feels much more intuitive than going into After Effects, or the like.
And whereas the other two applications mentioned here give you some specific kinds of animation techniques, Photoshop’s possibilities are quite a bit farther reaching.
Importing a video is easy and goes straight into a timeline that sits on the bottom of the screen which you can access through your Windows menu, as well. It sits as a layer just like any other layer. This means you can change the layer properties and mask out parts you don’t want in much more nuanced ways — just as you would an image layer.
Let’s take animating rain as an example. Rain captured against a black surface could be animated. Do it by changing the layer to “Lighten.” The effect will show only the drops on top of the layer below it. This is just how you would do a layer effect on a still image, making it very intuitive.
This is also not limited to just video inclusion. You can also use your timeline in Photoshop to create simple animations, too. Say, for example, you wanted some blinking lights in a building. You could create those with your image by creating separate layers with on and off states of those lights, bringing them into your Timeline and using keyframes.
This one’s been around since about 2011, so you’ve probably seen a few already. It has all the properties of a photo except there’s always some little piece of it that seems to be magically moving. The technique for getting this effect is actually to take a little piece of video and then, using Cinemagraph Pro, mask out all but the bits you want to keep moving. The application loops it for you.
To start with, bring a tripod for your shoot. You want as much still in your video as possible for the masking to work well once it’s in Cinemagraph Pro.
Pick your spots based on both compositions and for some part of the scenery that’s moving in an interesting way. It’s a different way of looking, but just use your same instinct as a photographer, then look for the part that you can get looped in animation within the scene. You’ll get used to it pretty quick.
The key to smooth Cinemagraphs is the smooth looping so that it feels endless. Keep in mind when shooting that you want whatever piece you plan on having loop return back to its original state, if possible. Otherwise, you’ll have to have the application fake it with crossfade. Not bad, but not perfect.
At first glance, a Plotagraph can seem a bit like a Cinemagraph. The difference is that with a Plotagraph, you start with a photograph, not a video. And instead of pulling a piece of a video to use as animated parts, you’re actually making the animation out of your own image.
Seems complicated, but it’s not. The technique is simply to put anchor points where you want your image to remain stable and then plot points where you want movement, and you can set the direction of the flow for some cool control over how things move.
Select shots based on movement. It’s simply an oddity of an effect unless it’s used to enhance something that has some flow to it already.
There’s so much more to learn about animating your images and there’s tons of free tutorials online that you can use as a learning material. But be sure that you are able to capture clear photos first. For sure, you want a photo that will captivate your audience. To do this you have to come up with unique photo ideas. Learn more about how you can create impressive photos by enrolling to the online courses of Taming Light Photography.