Have you ever felt like taking pictures but you were too lazy to get your butt off of the couch?

Well, I have the answer for you! You can shoot some really interesting abstract shots of your television screen.

The pictures above were three (3) second exposures of my television. As the TV program naturally shifted from scene to scene, my camera captured all of it on one frame creating a cool abstract that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.

The Technique

For Best results, you only want the blur and distortion to come from the varying television picture, not from any camera movement so you’ll need a tripod or a table to set your camera on because the exposure is 2-3 seconds long. Also you should consider using a remote shutter release or use the timer function on your camera.

Put your camera on the tripod or table and frame the picture so that the television screen takes up the entire camera frame. Avoid showing any of the TV frame that surrounds the screen.

Next, focus on the screen then switch your camera focus to “Manual” and leave it there. What I do now is very slightly turn the focus ring on my lens to soften the focus just a bit. I’ve found that when I don’t do this, my pictures look like I took a picture of, well, my TV screen. When I soften the focus a bit, the shot looks more realistic and it’s much more difficult to discern the screen of the television.

Now that we have the shot framed and focus taken care of, set your camera to shutter priority with a three (3) second shutter speed — Set your white balance to auto. For correct exposure balance, I found center weighted metering is most consistent. Next, turn the room lights down then use your remote shutter release or timer function to take a shot.

You’ll discover that the aperture that your camera chooses will vary greatly with the varying scenes on your television but just about every shot will be exposed correctly. You’ll also find that interesting abstract shots are mainly hit and miss because you can’t really predict how the scene will shift over the few seconds that the shutter is open.

I tried various shutter speeds from 1/2 second to ten (10) seconds and found that three (3) seconds seem to be the sweet spot. But, by all means, experiment and change things up. See what you come up with.

The next time you feel like taking pictures but you’re too lazy to get off of the couch, try this technique.