Smarter shoot­ing

The prin­ci­ples of good pho­tog­ra­phy ap­ply to any smart­phone

Mac Format - - PHOTOGRAPHY -

There’s no right or wrong way to take a photo. Only you know what you want to cap­ture, and only you know how you want it to look. You’re free to ig­nore ev­ery con­ven­tion – and in­deed we’d urge you to do just that if you find they’re quash­ing your cre­ativ­ity – but do at least bear in mind these tried and tested rules that have served count­less gen­er­a­tions of vis­ual artists. They don’t ap­ply only to pho­tog­ra­phy; you can see them in use in fine art, paint­ing and sculp­ture – they’ve proved their worth!

The rule of thirds

It’s a widely ac­knowl­edged fact, first es­poused in 1797 by pain­ter John Thomas Smith, that off­set­ting the point of fo­cus in your im­age can ac­tu­ally make it far stronger. He the­o­rised, cor­rectly, that if you put them one third in from the left or right of the frame, the re­sult­ing com­po­si­tion will be stronger and far more sat­is­fy­ing. He named the the­ory the ‘Rule of Thirds’, and it’s still the most im­por­tant rule of vis­ual com­po­si­tion over two cen­turies later.

You can see it in ac­tion on tele­vi­sion, where news­read­ers are usu­ally po­si­tioned a third of the way in from the left of the right of the screen. Their eyes are fre­quently a third of the way down from the top of the screen, and on a wide shot – of­ten one where the an­chor talks to a re­mote re­porter on a large screen – the desk oc­cu­pies the bot­tom third of the frame.

Com­pos­ing your iPhone shots in the same way will re­sult in far more strik­ing re­sults. It can take a lit­tle prac­tice to start with, but the iPhone helps by over­lay­ing the dis­play with a three-by-three grid. Open the Set­tings app > Pho­tos & Cam­era, and turn on the switch be­side Grid. The na­tive Cam­era app will then dis­play a grid on the screen against which you can line up your sub­jects. (Don’t worry, it won’t ap­pear on the pho­tos them­selves.)

Site solo por­trait sub­jects on the one-third ver­ti­cal lines, and when cap­tur­ing a land­scape, align the hori­zon with one of the hor­i­zon­tal guides, ei­ther a third of the way up or down the frame. When shoot­ing the coast, you may be able to get the hori­zon one third of the way down from the top, and the point where the sea and the sand meet on the beach one third of the way up from the bot­tom. Per­fec­tion!

Fo­cus on the eyes

The first thing we’re all drawn to when we look at a por­trait is the sub­ject’s eyes. If they’re out of fo­cus the whole im­age will be spoiled.

Off­set­ting the point of fo­cus in your photo us­ing the so-called Rule of Thirds usu­ally makes it stronger

From iOS 5 on­wards, the iPhone cam­era has been able to de­tect faces within a frame and then use them as the point of fo­cus. If, how­ever, it’s hav­ing trou­ble spot­ting some­one in your photo, tap them on the screen (or aim for the eyes if pos­si­ble) to make sure that they’re used to set the fo­cus and ex­po­sure for best re­sults.

Force the flash

It’s gen­er­ally ac­cepted that you should avoid shoot­ing to­wards the sun. If you do, the cam­era will ramp down the over­all ex­po­sure and throw any sub­ject be­tween you and the sun into sil­hou­ette. Some­times, though, you’ll have no choice but to break this rule if you want to shoot a friend in front of a land­mark – par­tic­u­larly if the land­mark hap­pens to be south of you (in the north­ern hemi­sphere), or if it has the sun ris­ing or set­ting be­hind it.

In these in­stances, you can tell the iPhone to par­tially dis­re­gard the bright­ness within the scene and fire the flash any­how. As­sum­ing they are close enough to the phone, this will illuminate the sub­ject and lift it out of the shad­ows; it won’t work on some­thing like the pyra­mids be­cause the flash doesn’t have suf­fi­cient range, but it’s per­fect for por­traits.

On the na­tive Cam­era app, tap the flash icon in the top-left cor­ner of the screen and se­lect ‘On’. Leav­ing it set to Auto, its de­fault op­tion, lets the iPhone de­cide for it­self when to fire the flash based on the am­bi­ent il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Lead the eye

It’s your pic­ture, so you can tell the viewer where to look. Make use of strong re­ced­ing and con­verg­ing lines to draw them into the scene and the eye will au­to­mat­i­cally fol­low them through the frame. Keep in mind that not all con­verg­ing lines are straight; as a wind­ing road or path snakes away from the lens its borders will also con­verge, and you may choose to crop out the point at which they meet by re­com­pos­ing the frame so that they dis­ap­pear be­yond the bor­der. This adds a level of in­ter­est to the im­age that might not be present if you al­lowed the viewer to see what hap­pens at the fur­thest end of path.

If you’re shoot­ing straight lines that move di­rectly away from your po­si­tion, con­sider break­ing the first of our rules and po­si­tion­ing them in the very cen­tre of the frame where they’ll be at their most dy­namic.

Po­si­tion­ing the sub­ject of your photo where the grid lines in­ter­sect usu­ally makes for a stronger and more dy­namic pho­to­graph.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.