Mobile Phone Photography : Tips for getting that ‘Perfect Shot!’
The advancement in mobile phones has equipped almost everyone with high quality cameras and the power to capture moments. With portals like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, the impetus to photography has risen multi-fold in the last couple of years. From once in a lifetime events, travel stories, memories with loved ones, favorite foods, interiors, to everyday ordinary yet remarkable moments, we tend to click almost everything. Of course, how can one forget, selfies? We are all guilty of snapping them! However, even with the best cameras, we sometimes cannot click a good picture. What exactly are the elements of a good photograph and how does one get that perfect shot every time?
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Just like the basic principles of Design, there are some basic guidelines to achieving a great picture! Here are a few tips which you can keep in mind to enhance your phone photography skills. The examples below are mainly design and travel photography, but you can apply the same rules, to any photograph!
While setting the frame for any photograph, observe the composition of the image. Every photo has a subject and a context i.e. the main thing you want to capture and the background. Now, there are different ways of composing a photo. For eg. centering the subject and focusing it with a blur background or placing the subject at one side, or a wide angle frame where the view is the subject etc. Take care to fill the frame effectively while balancing the subject and context. Angle of the frame, proportion of elements inside, straight lines are important while composing a photograph. Observe the examples carefully to understand better.
Subject in centre, balanced symmetrically and blurred background.
Subject aligned left, and straight lines in the background.
Subject and context are equally placed, the view is the subject.
While travelling, you don’t just want to click a picture, you want to capture the essence, the vibe of the place. This is tricky. The mood in a photo, comes from colors, lighting and creating the perfect harmony between patterns, textures and colors. Ask yourself, what draws you to that place or what’s special about a moment? Accordingly, one should adjust the frame, lighting and color effects. In a phone, the options are limited, however you can adjust the amount of lighting and color quite effectively in most of them. Take advantage of that. Some phones like Apple, OnePlus, Pixel and couple Android phones have advanced features like Pro mode, Depth Focus, and can capture HD quality images. Study those features and practice taking shots with them so you can refine your skills.
The diffused sunlight and color contrast creates the mood.
Creating contrast using colors and focus using shape to capture the vibe
Textures, lighting and shades of the color
Essence of public life and grand city scape
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3. DESIGN THEORIES
A good photograph is basically a good 2D design. Try incorporating similar rules that one uses in design like creating dominance by highlighting one object. A solid background, or very blurred background, zoom and light focus can create dominance in the frame. Similarly, one can apply the rule of repetition for eg. a row of arches or columns, tracks, line of trees. It also helps to click pictures in perspectives. Try to establish atleast one of these: bird’s eye, flat or 2D i.e. front angle, 1 point, 2 point or 3 point perspective. In all of them, try maintaining the lines in the frame straight, weather they are horizontal or vertical. For eg. while clicking a building, the road and the building should make a perfect 90 degree angle in the frame, as is the case in real life. Study the examples below.
Creating dominance in the frame
Dominance of the yellow tram, repetition of the trees and tracks and perspective
Again, 1 point perspective with repetition of columns, patterns and ceiling with straight lines
A 3 point perspective with straight lines and colors
4. INTERIOR / INDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY
Clicking in artificial light and within the constraints of wall and space is especially difficult. It is harder to get sufficient distance, the proper angle and colors don’t usually come out great owing to lighting. However, do not use Flash indoors. It causes too much light in one spot owing to even worse images. Lighting can be adjusted in post editing by increasing highlights, brightness and contrasts. You can also play with the shadows and saturation to bring out the colors more. If the space is concise, try smaller frames. It isn’t necessary to include everything you see in the frame, just a small hint of it would show essence. One could also try wide angle pictures or panorama, but it can be done without.
Enhancing colors and lighting
Smaller concise frames with more details and angles
Maintaining perspectives, repetition & straight lines even in Interior Photography
5. ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY
The key to architecture photography is identifying the best angle where the building looks most interesting. It can be the main facade, a special element, the form or texture of the building etc. Go around the structure if you can, and observe the frame from all angles, perspectives to chose the best one. Following design principles like symmetry, balance, textures and proportions is especially important in architecture photography. Needless to say, keep lines in the frame straight and angles crisp.
Its all about choosing the right perspective and angle
Creating perspective, but vertically and accentuating height with vertical lines
The right balance of subject, context, colors and lighting
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6. CAPTURING DETAILS
God is in the details. Be it nature photography like flowers, or specific objects, or people or buildings, the trick to capturing details is handling of the phone. Avoid camera shakes and fidgets. Keep your hand completely still, or try using a small tripod, focus and set the lighting and take care to place the detail as a subject to draw the eye. To achieve the right colors and to enhance textures and shadows for a more dramatic shot, you can edit pictures in softwares like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop , Inshot etc. However, it is important to not go overboard with editing and filters because the picture then loses it’s reality. Try to understand the mood of the picture, for eg, if its an old place or intricate details, you can try black and white or sepia filters to depict retro vibes or use enhanced saturation and brightness for outdoor or landscape pictures.
Nuances of an old staircase, with the words on the wall creating depth
Perfectly balanced 2D photograph
Trees as the subject with enhanced colors
Capturing the authentic grungy look with dark lighting and textures
Every time we click a picture, specially while travelling, we can’t stand for 30 minutes trying to checklist all the rules and getting a perfect shot. Sometimes it is difficult to get the frame ‘people free’ for even 30 seconds in crowded tourist spots. Here are some miscellaneous quick tips to remember for perfect phone photography.
Guest Author: Ar. Srinidhi RC : An Architect by profession, Srini is currently pursuing Masters in Architecture in Europe. He is passionate for all things design, has a special interest for photography and unparalleled love for travelling. All the above photographs have been shot on OnePlus 6 and are featured on Fone Fotografie Studio and subject to copyright.