With the modern boom of photography technology in smart phones and digital cameras alike, many of us wonder, how can I get those professional looking images? With some understanding of some basic camera techniques, you can elevate your images to new heights. Getting stuck into creative photography has never been more accessible so why not take the plunge?
Getting a DSLR
Smart phone camera technologies have significantly improved as of late. But they still do not hold a candle to the best entry level camera on the market. Having a DSLR can increase the creative applications you can experiment with, with your images. Thanks to their larger sensors which allows for higher dynamic range. This means they can produce higher-quality images. DSLRs also have the option of being able to swap between lenses which can produce striking effects if the right lens is used.
One of the lenses that is in every photographer’s arsenal is the 50mm f/1.8. These are often cheap or come included with entry level DSLRs because of their popularity. Because of this lens’s wide maximum aperture (how wide the lens opens) you get a lovely blurry background. This is often referred to as bokeh in photography circles. While many smart phones can imitate this background blur with intelligent algorithms. It does not stand up to an optical rendering of bokeh (the aesthetic quality). This kind of photographic effect is the standard for portrait photography because it helps the photography to control how much is in focus. With only the face of your subject to focus on, you will draw your audience’s eyes to it. The human eye is naturally drawn to detail.
You could have the best DSLR in the world, but if you do not understand how to utilize light your images will look flat. There are a ton of different lighting setups you can try that you do not need a DSLR for. You can get great images out of your smartphone with the right light. When working with light you need to ask yourself the question, how is this light effecting the mood of my picture? If you were to set up harsh red lights, the look you’ll achieve is intense. If you just use one key light, you could create a dramatic look.
Work with the lights you have in and around your home and experiment with different angles you’re shining the light from. You can fill out some of the shadows with something as simple as tin foil. You don’t need massive fancy lights to get amazing well-lit photography. Understanding the limit your equipment has will help you understand how much light you’ll need.
If you’re working with a phone, because the sensor is smaller, it’ll struggle to gather as much light as a DSLR. This is because the DSLR sensor has more surface area to gather light with. This can be used to your advantage. A smartphone camera might deal with super bright light better than some DSLRs (if the phone camera is top spec). But DSLRs will usually fair better in low light, with the right lens of course.
In photography, regardless of equipment, how you arrange the elements in your shot can trump all other considerations. The right angle that tells a story or bring a new perspective tends to create the most memorable images. But you might be asking, but how do we do that?
One of the most common techniques is called the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds draws a 3 x 3 grid on your image. We often put objects of interest at the 4 intersections of the grid in the centre box created by the grid. This allows photographers to easily manage subjects in their images to create a balanced feeling to the images. So many of the most famous photographers use this approach.
Introducing depth in images is also an important element of composition. By having subjects spread throughout the background and foreground, we can create a sense of depth in our images. This kind of depth makes the images we create feel more dynamic. This is also a very common technique in art photography, and you can take advantage of it by adding a couple extra subjects in your images.
There are so many ways to improve the look of your images. Regardless of the device you use. Smartphones can create stunning images when lighting and composition are taken into account. They have their limitations, which is why DSLRs exist, but anything can be achieved with the right creative eye.