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5 Overused Photography Effects

Posted in Photography By Guest

Photography has its challenges like any other medium. Finding a unique voice or angle is the key in separating that work from others. In the process, many artists lose themselves to the techniques that overcompensate for lack of voice and angle.

Photography Effects

Here are five overly used photography effects that artists should avoid.

# 5 – Long Exposure

This is seen most often with streams of water and traffic. A photographer sets up a camera near a waterfall or rapids or a busy road, sets the camera’s exposure a couple of seconds, or minutes, and waits. What happens next is this or this.

It’s a nice effect and can make someone think twice about auto insurance.

But, it’s overused. Instead of searching for a new angle on traffic, or something that captures a story, this technique is assumed to be inspiring and/orbrilliant because it’s used.

Why to Avoid It

Everyone uses it for water and traffic. There’s nothing genuine or original about it. It might sell pictures, and it might even grab a few comments, but it shows a lack of ingenuity.

Mix it up with original angles and ideas to build depth to a picture and it might work, but avoid it when possible.

#4 – Vignette

Like long-exposure, this technique has benefits to photography. Used lightly, it shifts the focus of an image, softens and/or accentuates colors, and brings out the object of the picture.

When overused, it detracts from the picture and makes it part of the focus, like this picture of a church.

Notice how the church is centered in a patch of white, almost as though someone is shining a flashlight directly on the picture. It draws attention to the church, but it also draws attention to the dark shading around the corners.

Sometimes people apply this effect so much that the corners become pure black.

Why to Avoid It

Often, a photographer or editor is trying to direct focus to the subject and heighten its detail. This can usually be achieved by a strong crop and editing to contrast and color.

This effect is so overused that it becomes the center of attention and actually detracts from the photo. It becomes the center of attention. Some people might even rave about its use.

It becomes the problem when it becomes the focus.

However, when applied correctly, a vignette is barely noticeable, unless searched for, and creates a wonderful picture.

#3 – Tilt-Shift

All overused effects earn their fame because they look cool. Tilt-shift is no different. Some people might not be familiar with this term, but it’s the act of creating a photo so that it looks like a miniature set.

If you’re curious, have a peak here and here.

Why to Avoid It

It’s becoming popular – so popular that many camera companies are including it as a feature on their cameras. It won’t be long before this technique is featured everywhere.

Like the other effects, this takes away from the true beauty and imagination that photos can bring. It also wrecks the quality.

Creating a tilt-shift in Photoshop uses a heavy dose of blurring and gradient application. It removes the extra details of a photo, heightens colors and shadows beyond realistic levels, and reduces the view of otherwise, average pictures.

#2 – Grunge

Vintage photography brings out nostalgia. It can incite deep emotions and illicit wonderful feelings. There’s nothing wrong with old photos.

However, applying a grunge overlay to the photo has become redundant.

There are decent grunge photos and then there are overdone grunge photos.

The grunge effect has merged with unimaginative photography and portraits, especially of the homeless and blue-collar workers. Its purpose is to bring out definition in and highlights of grime.

Why to Avoid It

There are few editing effects that cause as much change to a photo’s structure and composition as the grunge edit. It takes photos and forces them into an unnatural setting.

Just seeing an old barn slopping over on its sides, or a bicycle covered with cob-webs demonstrates time passed and time forgotten.

Grunge editing de-saturates a photo of colors and over-accentuates the lines and shadows through high-passes and curve adjustments.

It tries to supply character where there is no character, especially when the setting and structure don’t match.

#1 – High Dynamic Range

No effect has the potential to bring out the amazing qualities of a photo, or destroy its very existence more than HDR.

HDR was developed to bring out all the colors, shadows, and textures of a photo so that nothing was left underexposed or dull. When used appropriately, the final results are stunning.

When liberally applied, the effects are cartoonish and animated, and unapologetic.

Why to Avoid It

The first time it’s ever seen, it has a nice appeal. Maybe even the next nine times, too. After a while, it becomes old, and fast.

When used appropriately, photos are more vibrant and lively. There are already wonderful images made mind-blowing through this editing technique.

Often, it’s overdone, and the emphasis is on the odd sensation of hyperactive colors, enhanced shadow depths, and foreign lighting. It leaves nothing for the art of photography and the stories behind a single image.

Photography isn’t easy, it shouldn’t be. There should be stories behind the objects, angles to portray it, invention behind the lens, originality in the concept, and depth in the subject. What the five techniques above do is create a cheap way to be noticed.

Although there are some altered photos on this page, there’s a reason why some of the simple photos will always be more visually captivating than anything ever overly touched up.

About Guest Author: 
Hannah D. is a Photographer. Hannah has a passion for helping everyone who are interested in photography.

Nora Reed
Nora Reed

I do like photography. n these are so cool, this tips will gonna very useful to me in this way to make more fun.


Anything too much or overused has it's bad effect.. all things may use in

moderation or not much.


Great blog post! So many people go around calling themselves photographers because they have the latest trend down pat. Thanks for exposing the many reasons why NOT to follow the trend!