A picture is worth more than a thousand words; started as a means of personal expression and experience, we can capture the whole world in a photograph. A photograph has become one of the primary modes in digital communication as it can convey expressions faster, and occasionally more effectively than words. August 19 is celebrated as the World Photography Day. This is not some unofficial holiday started by millennials to mark any day. The day traces its origins to 1837 when the first-ever photographic process, the ‘Daguerreotype,’ was developed by the Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce. On January 9, 1839, the French Academy of Sciences announced this process, and later in the same year, the French government purchased the patent for the invention and gave it as a gift, “free to the world.”
The ‘Daguerreotype’ became the first-ever recognized photography process. However, it is inextricably different from the modern-day digital cameras we see today. The technology used in modern-day cameras has grown many folds with extraordinary primary cameras, zoom lenses, telephoto lenses to macro lenses.
Taking a good picture can be a daunting task; finding applications to edit the fine lines and making your image better can be even more confusing. Thanks to Mobile phones, we can now take high-quality photos and edit them from the same device without a sweat.
Instead of focusing on some of the world’s greatest clicks, this World Photography Day is about learning to take the best shots right from your Smartphone. Now hone your photography skills and become a pro by simply mastering these tips and tricks:
1. The Rule of Thirds:
The simplest yet the most undiscovered way to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. This method follows the ‘rule of thirds’- a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have a total of nine parts.
All you have to do is place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines. By doing this, your photos will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.
To switch the grid on …
iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”
2. Take Multiple Shots:
The best thing about digital cameras nowadays is that you don’t have to print your photographs to see the result. You can view the photos on your screen and learn and improve with each shot. Using the in-built burst photo feature will let you take multiple shots even when your subject is mobile. After the session, you can always select the best shots and edit them further for perfection.
3. Focus is Important:
Today’s smartphone cameras automatically focuses on the foreground of the frame, but that can not be applied to all kind of photos. If you are taking a picture of a mobile subject, it can be difficult for your camera to follow this subject and refocus as needed.
To manually adjust your phone’s camera focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view. Tap the screen to correct your phone camera’s focus just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.
Focusing on a single subject can also do wonders for your picture.
Pro Tip: When taking picture of a single subject, make sure that subject shouldn’t fill the entire frame, and that two-thirds of the photo should be negative space — that helps the subject stand out even more. Remember to tap the screen for better focus and optimised lighting.
4. Use Natural light and Negative Space:
Although technology has revolutionised the way we take photographs, very few smartphones can produce excellent indoor shots due to their small sensors. So, for better results, it’s best to take pictures in natural lighting condition.
Negative Space is the area in between and around your subject in an image. When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer.
5. Decode Photography Jargon:
To click pictures like a pro, you will need to decode the jargons associated with photography. Aspect ratio, aperture, and focal length, these terms can be confusing. Here’s what these jargons imply when we use them in the context of photography:
Aspect Ratio: Aspect ratio is simply the ratio of the height to width. In still camera photography, the most common aspect ratios are 4:3, 3:2, and more recently found in consumer cameras, 16:9. Other aspect ratios, such as 5:3, 5:4, and 1:1 (square format), are used in photography as well, particularly in medium format and large format.
Depth Of Field: Depth of field is a photography term that refers to how much of the image is in focus. The camera will focus on one distance, but there’s a range of distance in front and behind that point that stays sharp—that’s depth of field.
Exposure: The measure of how dark or light the image is. For any image to be created, light needs to fall on the camera sensor. A dark photo is considered underexposed, or it wasn’t exposed to enough light; a light photo is overexposed or exposed to too much light. Exposure is controlled through aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Focal Length: The focal length of the lens is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus, usually stated in millimeters. Essentially, the focal length is how ‘zoomed in’ your images will appear.
ISO: The ISO determines how sensitive the camera is to light. For example, an ISO of 100 means the camera isn’t very sensitive—great for shooting in the daylight. An ISO 3200 means the camera is very sensitive to light, so you can use that higher ISO for getting shots in low light. The trade off is that images at high ISOs appear to be grainy and have less detail. ISO is balanced with aperture and shutter speed to get a proper exposure.
6. Change your Perspective:
Photography is all about the angle you take. A unique, unexpected angle can do wonders for your photos. Most of the mobile photographs are taken either straight-on or from a bird’s eye view. A creative angle will tend to add an illusion of depth or height to the image.
7. Use HDR for sharper pictures:
HDR or High Dynamic Range, is not just limited to TVs anymore. HDR adds detail from the dark and light areas to provide better balanced exposure. It is because of HDR that the sky won’t be too bright or ground too dark. If there’s a big difference between the lightest and darkest parts of your scene, using the camera phone’s HDR function is a good option.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve taken your photo, you can use filters and apps to make the subject even more vivid, or to crop it to frame the subject correctly. The brightness, contrast, and saturation of the photo can also be adjusted accordingly — all from your phone.
8. Look out for Symmetry and Repetitive patterns:
Symmetry and repetitive patterns are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other. On the other hand, Repetitive patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colors.
9. Avoid Camera Shake and Utilise shutter speed:
Usually, the biggest drawback amateur mobile photographers encounter is not getting a sharp and clear image. Utilising shutter speed to optimal exposure settings will result in sharp and crisp images. If you are taking hand-held stills, try setting your camera on a level surface to achieve stability. This way, you can get clear and crisp images with your budget camera.
10. Master Basic Post-Processing:
Post-Processing is what you do to the image after you have taken it. You will be surprised by the difference a bit of good editing and post-processing will do to your pictures. There are various free editing software which can make great adjustments to your pictures in terms of simple editing.
You can also use paid editing software to add that extra touch of perfection.