One can create amazing patterns with colours. There are several ways of handling them. One is to take a photo with a very limited set of colours, like just two or three very similar ones. Another is to find things that have the wrong colour, or unusual colours.
This photo has some kind of story to tell, a strict story of violet and green.
This photo, which has a very similar composition to the previous one, looks chaotic and less interesting, as all the colours of the rainbow appear randomly in different flowers across the frame.
It is very difficult to find a normal scene around us that consists of perfect rectangles that match the frame of a photo. When you take a photo, you will almost inevitably cut something off, it may be the roof of a house or one half of a parked car.
The important thing is to be aware of what you cut off. A picture of a runner, where you see everything except the one foot that touches the ground, will look incomplete. A picture of a runner where one only sees the head and torso, however, may be perfectly acceptable. Look at the frame you are taking. Follow the edge. Are there things you think shouldn’t be cut? Would other people find it strange that one sees only one leg in the lower left corner, or could that even be considered a fun effect? Think. Evaluate. Judge. Decide.
The picture here is framed so the entire statue is visible except the back of the head. There is no obvious reason for this, and the framing seems sloppy.
Objects may be cut in the middle of a photo as well. There may be a door opening, where one just sees an elbow that looks silly and disturbing. On the other hand, a head and a shoulder that leans out from that same door opening may look perfectly normal.
Not only objects may be cut. It is also possible that implied or real lines are cut. Imagine a photo of a church or a big building with plenty of tourists in the foreground. Their presence will break the clean lines of the building.
Sometimes it may be good to add some life to the building in the form of humans, but often you just want to get rid of distracting people.
Outside a busy building it will be almost impossible to wait for a moment without any people at all. One trick here is to use post-processing. Take a number of photos. Layer them in an application that handles layers. Then remove the surfaces with people on each layer. If you have taken the photos with care, you will now have a composite photo without a single person. This can even be the Louvre in the middle of a day in the middle of the tourist season. But then you have to take really many photos.
A panorama is typically a very wide picture that goes almost 180˚ around you or even more. A panorama is often not suited to post on a web page, as it can appear as a thin horizontal line without much detail. Some panorama pictures could be replaced with one normal photo that is cropped from the top and the bottom.
However, panoramas still have a place.
A panorama shows a much wider field than a normal photo. If one wants to show opposite sides of a landscape, for example, a panorama shot may make sense.
A panorama usually shows more detail than a normal photo. Even if you want a normal size photo of a mountain view for a web page, you can take a panorama and then scan it carefully at home and crop to the particular part of the scene you want to keep.
In this panorama, the buildings to the left are opposite the palm leaves to the right. By using a panorama, the photographer can show the entire port from one end to the other and even a large part of the ocean.
If you have access to good printers, it may of course also be nice to actually print out a wide panorama to put on a wall.
When taking a panorama, unless you have very steady hands, it may be good to make sure you have time to make several attempts. The camera needs to be kept in a very stable position as you rotate it around you, and you may inadvertently move it too much. To keep it steady, it may be good to keep your arm fixed compared to your body, and slowly turn your body around. If you find a way to use support from objects around you, like a table, that can also be useful. (Some cameras may be able to handle shaky hands and panoramas better than others. If you become an enthusiast for panoramas, it may be worthwhile to search the internet to find the best panorama camera of the day.)
The exposure of a panorama depends very much on where you begin. Try taking a panorama photo of a sunset. First point to some spot opposite the sun, where it is already dark. Take the first panorama. Then point the camera directly at the sun (but avoid looking at the sun directly, if it is still bright). Take the second panorama. The first panorama is likely to be heavily overexposed around the sun. The second panorama is likely to be very dark except around the sun. Experiment with your conditions and your camera, where you can take the most pleasing panorama.
Some cameras may also fail with focus. If you first point at something 50 cm away, the camera may keep focusing at 50 cm, and everything far away will be out of focus.
In this panorama, the photographer began pointing at the dark bushes to the left. The camera adjusted to this, to make sure all the details of dark bushes
would be visible. The result was overexposure in the sky and other light parts.
In this panorama, the photographer began with the light sky. The camera adjusted to this, and the sky and light parts of the picture are correctly exposed, while some of the darker parts are underexposed.
One of the things non-photographers may not even notice in a picture is a blurry background. This is one of the most common tools in photography to isolate a subject. The typical example is a portrait, where the eyes are in a perfect focus, while the ears are slightly out of focus and the background is a non-distracting blur. Since a few decades, this background blur has been known as “bokeh” from a Japanese word with a similar meaning.
Unfortunately, bokeh is one of the things mobile phone cameras with their small sensors do really, really bad. To achieve the effect naturally, one typically uses a big camera, with a huge sensor and a lens that has a wide-open aperture. A mobile phone has none of these, and consequently, the photos tend to be sharp all the way from foreground to background.
To achieve as much background blur as possible, go as close as possible to a subject, like a flower. Make sure the camera focuses on the flower. This can often be achieved by tapping on the flower on the screen. The background will now be slightly blurred, but not at all as blurred as a photo taken by a good big camera with the right lens.
Another way to achieve background blur is post processing. Many cameras are able to make a good guess at what is in the background, and they will blur it on request. Depending on the software and the context, this may give a perfectly acceptable effect. However, current software is unlikely to fool
experts and purists.
In this photo, the intention was to show the details of the leaf in the foreground. The background is of less importance, and it is rendered less intrusive by being blurred out.
In this photo, the intention was to show a door hidden behind vegetation in a garden. As the door is in focus, that is what gets the attention. The details of the blurred leaves in the foreground are not considered important. With this camera, the two pictures were taken with the same frame. By tapping on the important subject, the phone adjusts focus accordingly.
One of the most important features in many fine arts is the void, an absence of something to stress what is left. There is the pause in music – both the general pause, when all musicians are quiet at the same time, and the pauses of some musicians to let other musicians appear more prominent. There is the white space on most poetry pages. There are often vast empty spaces of East Asian ink paintings.
Two paintings from classical Japanese art with plenty of empty space. To the left, the artist Sengai Gibon (1750 – 1837) has painted a kitchen worker. There is no background, and the upper left corner is left completely empty. To the right is a bird by Kusumi Morikage (1620-1690). The bird and its branch barely occupy a third of the height of the painting. The left part of the painting is left completely empty.
The void gives the viewer a break. They do not need to look for what is
important, as you have to in a “Where’s Wally” book. You do not need to have emptiness in each photo, but you should be aware that you can use it to stress a subject.
Emptiness in a photo can be plenty of things: blue or grey sky, sand, a wall without any pattern. And of course, bokeh.
With current mobile phone cameras, it is very difficult to reproduce the perfect white or black background of many product photos. The white background is often the result of very large aperture on large sensors and a lot of background blur. As mobile phones have small sensors and they do not have large apertures, this is difficult to achieve. The black background is often the result of targeted external flash or other external lighting, and that is difficult to achieve using just a mobile phone.
The easiest way to approximate the result of a big camera is to spend time on external lighting to get the perfect light on the object you want to focus. And then to achieve the rest in post processing. Isn’t this cheating? In some way it is, but close to all product photos are heavily edited. Sometimes achieving the effect is more important than the way to get there.
Another kind of emptiness is when something clearly is missing. A man in tie and jacket but no shirt. A pair of oars, a piece of rope, a keel and a hand bailer on a beach, but no boat. A child playing in a playground and a woman’s clothes on a bench nearby, but no mother. Try it out. It can be efficient.
This photo doesn’t have any interesting colours, and the light and the colours are distracting. The only redeeming thing is the strange tree trunk that misses a part just across the path. Why wasn’t the entire tree removed or just pulled aside?
If you want your photos to stick out from the crowd, it is a good idea to take them in an unexpected way.
Lie on the ground. Climb high up. Look where you usually don’t look, be it behind you, far up or down on the ground.
Taking plenty of pictures of your shoes would be boring, but pictures of what they stand on may be interesting. People often do not look on the ground, so that is an unusual perspective.
What works depends on the circumstances. When you look at a flower, you usually do it from above, a few meters away. As it is the most common perspective, it is the perspective to avoid. You can try taking a photo from exactly above the flower. This may create an interesting effect, especially if the ground around it is unusual in some way. You can also try taking the photo exactly horizontally, kneeling next to the plant when taking the photo. And then you can of course take the photo from below, holding the camera close to the ground pointing upwards to the flower against blue sky, a grey building or some green trees. Then think about this question: Which position gives the most appealing photo? Which position gives the most useful photo to include in a book about flower identification?
An angle that works for one purpose doesn’t always work for another one.
Experience: Choose any subject (for example a flower) and try to shoot photos of it from as unusual angles as possible.
Three photos of the same Gazania flower – from directly above, from below and from the normal position of a person’s eyes.
These tiny mushrooms are barely taller than the straws in a normal lawn. By shooting very close up from below, a viewer may get the impression that they are as tall as people.