Finders keepers

I still don’t have a photo of you that I like. When I asked myself why this is so, the answer was, A photograph is an intention disguised as a fact of Read More »

6 Things that Can Change the Way You See in Photography

Art is no accident. How did Van Gogh awe us with swirls of paint in Starry Night? Read More »

10 Things that will Transform Photographic Composition

How many ways can you design an image? As many ways as you can learn to see. Composition is the key to a strong photographic vision. Read More »

Bring Back that Lovin’ Feelin’

What would you do to fall in love with your craft, all over again? Here's my three resolutions for 2012 to bring back that old lovin' feelin' into photography. Read More »

Steve Jobs Said

Stars are past light. But if we didn't see those lights, we would never know the depths of the universe. RIP Steve Jobs. Read More »

 
Burma Myanmar rice field worker harvesting rice harvest Southeast Asia Burmese copyright Aloha Lavina

Week 13 Module: A Stranger’s Story

A photographer collects stories. Those stories can be about people.

When setting out to photograph a stranger, there is no way you can predict who you’ll meet, and even less chance of developing some definite expectations of what images you can make and take home. You need to be open to anything and flexible enough to change focus at a moment’s notice. Here is a how-to video from Clay Enos.

(The only thing I disagree with that the video says is about the lighting. Enos prefers “flat light” but I like contrasty. It’s a matter of taste.)

When I’m on the hunt for portraits, I’ve got a couple of lenses I like to use. A zoom that has a 50mm focal length within its range is good for closeups. A long telephoto is good for portraits of people whom you want to catch in their candid moments or without intruding on their privacy.

To help you maximize your chances of capturing memorable portraits that have impact, there are some things you can apply.

1. Wait for the decisive moment.

Cartier Bresson once said, “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.” Finding this decisive moment is one of the most exciting things you can search for in your quest for portraits. Being patient and waiting for moments can result in expressive portraits.

2. Provide context for your subject.

Using the environment can help you tell the story of your subject. Whether it is about work, play, or other themes, giving bits of the surroundings can add impact to the story because the elements around the subject add to the narrative of who they are, what they do, linking their story to the viewer’s story.

3. Document a 1000 words.

That old cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words” can come true in your photography. While roaming a place, look out for moments that hold special significance to the people you are photographing. Sometimes you’ll find these vignettes that encapsulate universal experiences, such as wanting something we can’t have. Portraits that have stories in them are often some of the most powerful ones we can make.Burma Myanmar Burmese woman smoking cheroot headscarf Mandalay copyright Aloha Lavina

4. Interact with your subject.

It helps you sometimes to interact with your subject. Some would argue that interacting with your subject changes the image; that by imposing yourself into their lives, the photographer changes the natural way a local person would act.

5.  Keep your distance.

Conversely, you can keep your distance and use a long lens. Using a long lens, what I call the “sniper method” of portraiture, allows you to capture people in their natural state. Because you are not intruding upon their attention, you would get portraits that are more candid.Burma Myanmar rice field worker harvesting rice harvest Southeast Asia Burmese copyright Aloha Lavina

6. Know the angle of your light source.

I like dramatic lighting, so I always look for things like rim lighting, or light falling on the face of the person I am photographing. Burma Myanmar monk studying students boys in temple school copyright Aloha Lavina portrait lighting light

7. Watch out for body language.

A portrait can express a story even without the face completely visible. Often, body language can tell the story.Burma Myanmar monk portrait Inle Lake Burmese monk Burmese monk ceremony copyright Aloha Lavina

Although by no means an exhaustive list, these tips can help you start your search for the stories of strangers. Your assignment this week is to make some portraits of people you don’t know. Choose one photo that turned out special, and tell the stranger’s story on our Imagine That Photography Tribe Facebook page.

Have fun!

Join us, the Imagine That Photography Tribe, as we embark on a year of photography projects designed to improve and practice photography skills! Simply Like us on Facebook, and you will be able to see weekly posts, contributions from Tribe members, and talk photography! Participate and be included in weekly roundup articles published right here on Imagine That! Also get the chance to see your work in seasonal e-publications released by Imagine That.

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Composition and the Use of Color
Hey Photographer! Who are You and What do You Believe?
Using Background Effectively in Your Portraits
Are You Paying Attention?

iPhone 4s photo with grunge from an app action copyright Aloha Lavina Bangkok train tracks BTS tracks Bangkok city

Week 12 Module: How to add a grunge texture to a photograph

This technique has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t lost its fun factor.

I’m talking about adding a textured layer to your photo.

Adding textures to a photo can be done with an app on the iPhone, such as what I did with this photo here. Without the texture, the photo itself was a linear, kind of boring snapshot. With the grunge layer applied with the app, I got a dramatic effect and was able to bring attention to the lines on the train platform.

iPhone 4s photo with grunge from an app action copyright Aloha Lavina Bangkok train tracks BTS tracks Bangkok city

Grunge texture on a photo using an app in the iPhone.

This module is about adding a grunge layer to your photograph to add drama and to bring attention to a particular element in the photo.

Do you collect textures?

When I am shooting, I often come across different textures that would make for interesting overlays for my images.  I shoot them and keep them in my hard drive for future use in a folder marked “Stock textures.” That way, I am always ready in case the mood hits to create a textured photo with a grunge effect.

What photo should you make with this effect in mind?

Any photo can work with this effect, but it might help you to shoot a photo that had just one thing as its subject. That subject could be a person or object in the frame. If the subject is light itself, the photo will probably not work, since its subject needs the context (which we will cover with texture) of the whole picture to work. Similarly, if you had a composition in which you had to balance the frame using two different elements, this effect would harm rather than help your composition. So pick a photo that has one clear thing that you’re focusing on. This is where we will center the composition as we apply the texture.

How do I add textures using Photoshop?

There are a couple of things in Photoshop you have to understand before you can work with a texture layer on top of your actual image.

The first thing is how to use layer masks work. Here is an excellent tutorial that shows you that.

The second thing you need to review is how to use the Blending Modes. Here’s a tutorial that shows you what Blending Modes do to an image.

Now that you’ve reviewed your knowledge about Blending Modes and Layer Masks, here is a video that shows you how to add a texture layer to make a dramatic photo.

Finally, I just completed a short video tutorial on this same topic. If you would like to learn a simple way that I use to add texture to a photo, head on over to my Youtube channel.

The assignment this week is to shoot textures and an image that you would like to apply texture to. Now that you know how to use layer masks and blending modes, experiment and see what works. The only limits to your textured imagery is your imagination and creativity!

If you would like to participate in weekly modules on all kinds of topics in photography, why not join the Imagine That Photography Tribe? Like us on Facebook, and get updates on weekly lessons, have a chance to discuss photography with cool Tribe members, and get free ebooks with your photos featured!

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Stripped to its Essence: The Beauty of Black and White
Using the Background Effectively in Your Portraits
How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Stripped to its Essence: the Beauty of Black and White

Editor’s Picks, Week 10 Module “Monochrome Madness”

Monochromatic photography is making imagery that has only one hue. Between black and white, the grayscale in between make up the range of frequencies in a monochromatic image. It can be warmer, with a yellow tinge, or cooler, with a bluish hue.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Ker GL 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Maybe the sentimentality of the classic film days and photography greats shooting in black and white makes black and white seem more gritty. Maybe this led to monochrome being a preference of photojournalism in the days before newspapers could print in full color. Or maybe it was the other way around, the newspaper photographs being the inspiration for shooters to use monochrome.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Prima Ongsvises 2012.

But actually, monochrome is the most unrealistic of imagery. Without the color of real life, the monochrome photograph is extremely interpretive, stripping an image to its essentials.

Form

The way in which we seek to see the world, looking for edges to find shape. Like a lens seeking contrast to focus, we are captivated by the forms without the distraction of color. We are able to find harmony in the ways the pieces of the composition fit.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

Light

If we could see in monochrome only like a motion picture camera, we would strip the image to its muse. The values of light and dark would jump out at our vision, and we choose how to arrange it artfully. Monochrome allows us to focus on only the difference between highlights and shadows. We can make a picture with just a shadow, and a patch of light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Mihaela Limberea 2012.

Contrast

Monochrome allows us to add drama without color. With only the intensity of the difference between the whites and the blacks in the image, we can add a little vision and make a single image a narrative.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

 

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the orange RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
6 Ways to Start Your Photography Hobby
Easy Way to Dodge and Burn Photos without Destroying Pixels
5 Myths about Creativity a Photographer Should Bust
Does Gear Really Make You a Better Photographer?
10 Small Things that make a Big Difference in Your Photos

portrait with bokeh copyright Aloha Lavina

Week 11 Module: Bokeh Baby!

Blur has never been more beautiful.

Bokeh is technically the way a lens renders out of focus light. Different lenses produce different bokeh. Sometimes, a lens can produce bokeh that’s so creamy you could spread it on bread.

Hmong woman and bright light, Vietnam copyright Aloha Lavina.

Creamy, spreadable bokeh.

Other times, there’s a texture to the bokeh.

portrait with bokeh copyright Aloha Lavina

Sometimes the lens can produce some texture in the bokeh.

This week, let’s have some fun producing bokeh, baby!

Here’s a video on how to set up a bokeh producing situation at home.

If you’re having too much fun, here’s how you could control the shape of the bokeh your lens produces.

And finally, here’s some inspiration of creative ways to use bokeh in your compositions.

Now go, and make some beautiful blur.

 

monochrome using iPhone 4s copyright Aloha Lavina

Week 10 Module: Monochrome Madness

They evoke the romance of earlier years in photography.

They remind us of iconic photographs by some of photography’s greats—Dorothea Lange, Cartier-Bresson, and of course, Ansel Adams. We’re talking about black and white photographs, of course.

When some of these iconic photographs were made, the photographer had to capture a world of color and see in monochrome.

How can we share in this great photography tradition and participate in some monochrome madness? In this week’s module, let’s find out.

What should you consider when making a monochrome image?

Design elements

Composition in monochrome images is not any different from composing color images. But since there is no color information, the elements of shape, pattern, contrast and lighting are so much more important.

monochrome using iPhone 4s copyright Aloha Lavina

A monochrome I shot using the iPhone 4s and converted using an app called Snapseed.

Shapes and patterns

Shapes and patterns are important in black and white because they are much more prominent without the color to distract from attention to them. Take a look at these samples and see what I mean.

Composing a monochrome photo challenges the photographer to visualize how shapes and patterns would affect the composition more than any thing else in it.

Here is Ansel Adam’s philosophy of capturing something visualized.

 

Contrast

Contrast is important in monochrome because it helps us to delineate the edges of the subject and other elements in the image. Making the edges between the blacks and whites clear helps the image gain a clear composition. There are many ways to achieve contrast in making black and white images.

One is by dodging and burning. Dodging and burning is a technique from the film days that involves changing the brightness of bright parts and darkness of dark parts in the photograph. Dodging makes the bright parts brighter, and burning makes the dark parts darker. You can dodge and burn using Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop, but this destroys pixels. So it’s better to use a non-destructive technique such as in this tutorial.

Here is another way to create a high contrast image in black and white.

Lighting

Lighting is always important in photography, so it goes without saying that it is also important in monochromatic photography. Dramatic light is something that helps a monochrome image a lot. The contrast between the lights and the darks in the photo happens when there is a full range of tones in the photo, and this full range is achieved when the light is ‘just right.’

To control the light that makes the photograph, pay attention to the exposure. You need to make good decisions about the exposure made by the three settings of aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Too fast of an exposure, and you risk having no details in the shadows, or dark parts. Too slow, and you may risk blowing out the highlights.

Post processing work

Most dSLRs have a Monochrome shooting mode these days. This means the black and white conversion is done in camera. This might be all right, but you will find that camera conversions into monochrome are quite bland and do not have the high contrast drama that you might appreciate in a photo. So the tendency for a shooter to underexpose the image is quite possible. (I know I tend to underexpose a LOT when shooting in monochrome mode.)

Probably a good way to make monochrome images is to shoot in color first, then convert the image to a monochrome. There are several ways to do this. One is the method done in RAW in the video by House of Photoshop, above.

Another, easier way is to use Channels to make the black and white conversion.

Here is yet another way to convert a color photo to black and white, by Joey L.

 

Pick a way that works for you, a way that seems more intuitive. This frees you up to make more artistic decisions about the conversion you are making.

———————
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! We have photography modules weekly with our Imagine That Photography Tribe. Simply Like us on Facebook, and get weekly updates with photography tips and tricks. Talk photography with some cool folks, and enjoy being featured in a weekly Editors Picks and a chance for your photos to star in a seasonal publication for Tribe members.

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! Even if you don’t like what’s on the blog, leave a comment any way, but please keep it nice. :) To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Confessions of a Photoshop User
Are You Paying Attention?
Finding Good Photos where they Hide
Why You Should Shoot Like Johnny Depp
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos

 

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Editor’s Picks: Week 8 Module Finding Your Balance

The Tribe has done it again!

Check out this beautiful collection of images from our Week 8 Module, “Finding Your Balance.”

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Mihaela Limberea 2012.

If you would like to participate in weekly modules on all kinds of topics in photography, why not join the Imagine That Photography Tribe? Like us on Facebook, and get updates on weekly lessons, have a chance to discuss photography with cool Tribe members, and get free ebooks with your photos featured!

natural light portrait copyright Aloha Lavina

Week 9 Module: Portrait with Light from One Window

This week, be grateful for your windows.

Rembrandt’s studio had a bank of windows through which streamed one of the most important elements of his paintings: light.

We can take a page from Rembrandt’s book and use his method of lighting to make some portraits.

Rembrandt used a specific quality and direction of light: Northern light coming from the side.

Northern light is considered to be one of the best quality of light because when it streams through the window onto a subject, it is not harsh or too contrasty.

Coming from the side, it produces a side-lighting situation that lights up one side of the subject and leaves the other side in shadow, revealing the three-dimensionality of what it’s illuminating.

 

Side lighting illustrated for Imagine That Photography Tribe

Side lighting from a window.

Rembrandt used Northern side lighting through his studio windows to produce beautiful portraits. We’re going to do the same in this week’s module.

Camera and lens choice

Most people who want (or agree, when you ask) to have their portraits made want to look their best in the photo. Lens or focal length choice is key if you want to create a natural looking portrait. Usually, a ‘normal’ focal length is preferable. A normal focal length, which is 50mm, is the way the human eye sees naturally. If you have a zoom lens, setting your lens to around 50mm is the best way to avoid distortions that happen at shorter focal lengths. This avoids distortions like making the nose too big for the image, or making the face ‘taper’ too much if you should tilt the lens up or down while you’re making images.

Setting up

There are some important things you have to set up before you start shooting the window light portraits to maximize your chances of making effective portraits.

Sit the subject so that their position forms a triangle between your camera and the window, like in the diagram above.

You could also shoot the subject with the lighting directly in front of their face. But this will produce ‘flat lighting’ which doesn’t create the 3D effect and gives the image a flat look.

Here’s some advice from Scott Kelby about natural light and how to position your subject.

Other tips

If the shadows on the side of the face opposite the window are too dark, you can use a ‘fill light’ opposite of the window. This is usually accomplished with a reflector, but if you don’t have one, you can use a white sheet or white cardboard to reflect the window light onto the shadow side of the face, and ‘fill’ the shadows with light.

natural light portrait copyright Aloha Lavina

Shallow depth of field gives the portrait some drama.

Control the background. Backgrounds can help or hurt a portrait. If for instance there is something behind the subject that looks like it is sticking out of their head, that’s not a good background. You can drape a sheet behind the subject, or you can move them to another window that gives you a better background.

If you want to eliminate the issue of background, fill the frame with the portrait. A closeup can be a way for you to try to be creative with the simplified elements of the image.

natural light portrait copyright Aloha Lavina

Fill the frame.

Depth of field can also be used to control the background. You can use a shallow depth of field, accomplished by opening the aperture to a wide size, say f/2.8 to around f/5, to give you a considerable difference between the sharpness of the subject and the sharpness of everything else. Shallow depth of field results in beautiful blur around the subject. Here is a great video about a rule photographers follow about depth of field in portraits. You can use the tips, or you can choose to go by how you feel–it’s up to you.

What should the sharpest point be in the portrait? Where should you focus? The eyes are the most important part of the portrait. If the eyes are sharp, the portrait will draw attention from the viewer, no matter if everything else is super blurry.

horizontal portrait in natural light copyright Aloha Lavina

Try horizontal frames, too.

Finally, don’t think that all portraits have to be with a portrait orientation. You can make some interesting portraits using the horizontal frame, too. Don’t forget to experiment with the framing.

Your assignment this week is to shoot some portraits using window light in a side lighting set up. Experiment with contrast in the dark and light sides of the face, and find your preference as to how much drama you like in your portraits.

Then, post a couple of the portraits you made, side by side, discussing why you prefer one over the other in terms of the lighting. This way, we review what we know about lighting.

Have fun, and make me and Rembrandt proud!

If you want to rekindle your photography in 2012 and want to shoot alongside some really cool Tribe people, why not join us? LIKE us on Facebook, the Imagine That Photography Tribe, and you’ll have access to weekly modules, a community that loves to share photography, and be featured in our weekly Editors Picks post! You could even find your photos in our seasonal Module ebook, where we summarize the season’s tips and tricks. Give yourself a great gift this year, and join the Tribe!

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! Even if you don’t like what’s on the blog, leave a comment any way, but please keep it nice. :) To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Confessions of a Photoshop User
Are You Paying Attention?
Finding Good Photos where they Hide
Why You Should Shoot Like Johnny Depp
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: A Lens in Little India, Singapore

By Vincent Ng

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: Lunch Break at Uni Texas, Austin

By Cyndi Louden

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Cyndi Louden 2012.

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: Seeing Cebu

By Einstein Lavina

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: Missoula on My Mind

By Cynthia Swidler

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Missoula hums with energy along its river-front. Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Chasing away the middle school blues and gray days, this seventh grade student enjoys the outdoors by swinging above the mountains to the sky.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

The Bohemian Waxwings flock and feed on Mountain Ash berries, becoming crazily intoxicated and bringing a great spot of color on an otherwise gray, late winter day.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

A brief and glorious moment of sun thawed the morning's snow from my car's sun-roof.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

A brief and glorious moment of sun thawed the morning's snow from my car's sun-roof.

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: Getting the Car to Go

By Schalk Ras

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Photo Essay: Exploring Koh Sark Island in Thailand

by Ker Geok Lan

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

Imagine That Photography Tribe Module 7 A Sense of Place

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

macro with iPhone copyright Aloha Lavina

Why I Love iPhone Photography

I love point and shoot cameras.

They’re light, non-invasive, and they force you to think about the image before you make it.

But a step up is the smart phone with a camera that doubles up as a point and shoot. You can use it to make calls, connect in so many different ways, and if you’re the type who likes stylized photos—well, there’s an app for that.

When my old iPhone 3s died after I dropped it smack on its face, I ordered the iPhone 4s. As a smart phone user, I only ever used the iPhone to keep connected through Twitter and to check email while on the go, take visual notes, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until I read this great article about iPhone photography that I was convinced the iPhone was a great camera, too.

The first weekend I had the 4s, I took it out to an island off the coast of Pattaya on Thailand’s Eastern seaboard. But the phone was kind of a second string camera.

iPhone photo copyright Aloha Lavina 2012

Fish out of water, Koh Sark Thailand

I had a dSLR with me, so I mostly used that. But I did discover that Instagram had these nifty actions that could make images grungy, stylized pictures with a lot of atmosphere.

A week later, I left my dSLR at home as I traveled Northeast, and brought just the iPhone. The audacity of leaving my main camera behind felt funny. I always travel with the camera bag and its kilos of stuff. Now, I had a rectangular thingee in my pocket.

Here are some things I love about photography with the iPhone and the apps I bought last week.

1. It holds on to highlights and shadows really well. Amazingly, I was able to shoot complex, high contrast exposures.

iPhone photo in complex lighting copyright Aloha Lavina

Complex lighting? Piece of cake for the iPhone 4s.

2. I can do multiple exposures using an app called Pro HDR. This app allows you to take two exposures, but you have to hold very, very still while it does that. I was able to take a photo at night, and a man walking across the frame was captured twice.

iPhone photo multiple exposure copyright Aloha Lavina

Multiple exposure using the Pro HDR app.

3. The Pro HDR app also allowed me to take a long exposure of water. Because water was moving while the camera took two exposures, the water had that blur effect of a slow shutter.

iPhone photo slow shutter effect copyright Aloha Lavina

Slow shutter effect using the Pro HDR app.

4. To increase dynamic range, I used Snapseed. Snapseed imports your photo from the Library and has actions that can reveal shadows and highlights in great detail. I love this app for textured subjects.

IPhone photo shadows and highlights with textured subject copyright Aloha Lavina

Using Snapseed to get those shadows and highlights. Seedless. Juicy.

5. Moody images with vignette and grunge happen in Snapseed, too. Using the action for “Grunge” puts a vignette around the photo and adds texture. You can adjust how much of the effect you want.

iPhone photo using Snapseed to add Grunge copyright Aloha Lavina

Grunge using Snapseed.

Like all new toys, I couldn’t put the phone down. Everything became a potential image. The great thing about it was, I was no longer thinking of settings and lens selection. I was just thinking about how to make a good image with what I had.

And that was the most valuable thing I learned. I loved being an image maker again. Not having to worry about the settings and lens selection really freed me up to just think of the composition, color, and light.

macro with iPhone copyright Aloha Lavina

And it works with closeups!

Would I give up the dSLR for just the iPhone? Probably not. But now wherever I am, I’ve got a ready point and shoot ready to use.

And it takes calls, too.

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Using the Background Effectively in Your Portraits
Be a Photographer, Not a Lens Changer

Does Gear Really Make You a Better Photographer?
10 Small Things that Make a Big Difference in Your Photos

Krystal Vee flowers girl with flower copyright Aloha Lavina

Week 8 Module: Finding your Balance

Designing an image involves harmony in its elements. One of the important things that promote harmony in an image is balance.

When we think of balance, we think of symmetry—the opposite sides from a center are equal.

abstract photo symmetrical balance copyright Aloha Lavina

Symmetrical Balance.

Balance in an image can be static balance. This happens when two sides of the image from the center form equal visual weight—they are symmetrical. Their sameness produces a static balance, which is very strict in its proportions.

But the brain isn’t very excited with symmetry. An image with static balance is already harmonious, and the mind doesn’t have to do any work to harmonize it. So it kinda gets bored.

What happens when an image is asymmetrical, when the two sides from the center are not of equal visual weight? What happens is, the brain fills in the harmony, making the viewer an active participant in the image. This is what excites the brain.

When making images with asymmetrical balance, we can use a few techniques to achieve balance.

Size and distance from the center

Some images can get away with putting the subject at one extreme side, and balancing the subject with another object at the opposite end. If the objects themselves are not visually ‘equal in weight,’ then the composition could work.

Krystal Vee flowers girl with flower copyright Aloha Lavina

Symmetrical in shape, but with variation.

Sometimes, it is possible to imagine a lever of two different sized objects, but the smaller one is balanced because it is farther from the center.

environmental portrait model urban grunge Singapore copyright Aloha Lavina

Depth can bring balance to an image.

Using depth to create illusion of asymmetry

You can use depth, the illusion of near and far objects, to help you achieve balance in the image.

You can balance a closer object that looks large with something farther away, which looks smaller. It helps if the objects are similar in shape and tone. Darker objects tend to look “heavier” to the eye.

Getty Museum black and white copyright Aloha Lavina

You can use relative size of objects caused by distance from the lens, to achieve balance.

 Using space to balance the subject

You can use empty space or negative space to balance the subject.

 

monk reading by window Myanmar Burma black and white copyright Aloha Lavina

You can balance a subject with a large space, like a temple wall.

Negative space often gives you a graphic look to the image.

abstract lily black and white copyright Aloha Lavina

Balance using negative space.

Using color to ‘split’ the image into two sides

You can use the colors in the image to ‘split’ it into balanced parts. In the first image of the mustard field and sky, the photo is split into almost symmetrical parts by the color. The variation that made it a bit interesting is the man’s silhouette and the top of the tree on the right.

mustard field India Rajasthan copyright Aloha Lavina

An image balanced by 'split' color.

The lighthouse is balanced by the colors of the kayaks in the foreground.

Carlsbad lighthouse copyright Aloha Lavina

Kayaks in the foreground in the same colors as the subject and background.

 Using movement to ‘split’ the image

One of the challenges you might face is how to use movement to balance an image. By movement, we don’t mean actual movement of the subject, but the movement of the eye suggested by the subject.

illustrated tension in a photo copyright Aloha Lavina

The eye is led to two directions, creating tension.

In the image of the balloon man and Hmong children, the children are moving to one side of the image while the man is moving to another. Although they are moving in the same direction, the eye perceives a tension in the photo; it’s tugged in two ways. This tension adds to the dynamic balance of the image.

Hmong children and balloon seller Sapa Vietnam copyright Aloha Lavina

Movement to create dynamic balance.

 

Similarly, the petals of this abstracted lily moves in two different directions. There is one petal moving the eye toward the front left of the photo. Another petal is moving toward the background. This creates the same type of visual tension for the eye, and creates a dynamic balance in the photograph.

lily abstraction copyright Aloha Lavina

Movement can also be suggested by foreground and background.

Balance is one of the basic elements of a good composition. By following these tips, you can decide which type of balance works for your image, and make some dynamic compositions.

Your assignment this week is to try shooting to create different ways to balance elements in your photos. Pick the best of the lot, and post it in the Imagine That Photography Tribe Facebook page. Let’s get creative with composition again with a new twist!

If you want to journey with me as I rekindle my love for all kinds of photography in 2012, and learn lots of things along the way, head on over to our new Facebook page (and like us!), where you can participate in project modules, get some feedback, talk photography, and have your photography featured in a monthly roundup!

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the orange RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
6 Ways to Start Your Photography Hobby
Easy Way to Dodge and Burn Photos without Destroying Pixels
5 Myths about Creativity a Photographer Should Bust
Does Gear Really Make You a Better Photographer?
10 Small Things that make a Big Difference in Your Photos