Even though smartphones allow for every single one of us to carry a powerful camera in our pockets at all times, not all of us know how to use them to create professional photos. Join us as we explore 4 secrets that will help transform your smartphone photos into visual art.
1. Use light as an asset
Lighting is probably the most neglected asset in the amateur photographer’s toolkit. While many photo-takers obsess over composition and filter effects, effective lighting can spell the difference between a mediocre snap and a masterful piece of photographic poetry.
It’s easy to assume that taking control of photography lighting requires big, expensive spotlight rigs and backdrops. While investing in lighting equipment is always an option, using natural light can be just as effective, if not more so. Since the sun’s angle is constantly changing throughout the day, natural lighting provides photographers with an endless palette of artistic potential, with no additional purchase necessary.
The best times of the day to use natural lighting are what photographers refer to as the ‘blue hour’ and the ‘golden hour.’ The blue hour is a short window of time after the sun has set or right before it has risen that is perfect for taking beautifully soft-lit shots. The golden hour is the hour just before sunrise, or the hour leading up to sunset. The golden hour is named for the orange glow that the sun casts during its span, providing photographers with a non-replicable source of warm natural light.
2. Stage the scenery like a pro
Being aware of your surroundings is one of the most important lessons that any budding photographer can learn. By being a creative observer, you can use any environment as your own personal artistic backdrop.
When staging a photo, there are several different factors to keep in mind. First, you should keep an eye out for composition. Composition refers to the placement of objects within a frame. Many smartphone cameras feature tools to help compose a photo. Photographers should also consider perspective.
Most smartphone camera apps have the option to add a grid to the viewfinder screen. Have you ever wondered what the grids are for? The answer is the ‘rule of thirds.’ Professional photographers use these grids to help guide their composition. The rule of thirds suggests that the human eye is automatically drawn to the four spots where the grid lines intersect. Composing your shot around these lines can help you create a compelling shot, just like the pros.
3. Enhance the frame depth for ultimate contrast
Depth is an undervalued and underused tool in the world of smartphone photography. Even if you’re using lighting and composition to your advantage, your photos might still feel a bit flat. By using depth, photographers can create a deeper, more three-dimensional feel.
How can you use depth to improve your photos? Here are several tips you can follow: First, be mindful of the background. Discovering interest in a scene’s background can create a level of depth that often goes missing in photos completely focused on the foreground. You can also create depth by being creative with your viewpoint. Try lying down on the ground or squatting to create a less familiar perspective.
Another great way to add depth is by using a concept called ‘leading lines’. Professional photographers often use bridges, docks, tunnels and other diagonally-lined shaped objects to create the illusion of distance. Since the human eye perceives leading lines as vanishing into the horizon, they add a much-needed dose of three-dimensionality.
4. Learn the art of Bokeh
You may never have heard the term ‘bokeh’ before now, but you’ve almost definitely enjoyed the bokeh effect. Bokeh is the use of out-of-focus or blurry areas of a photo to create a distinct depth of field. Bokeh is also sometimes referred to as ‘background blur.’ By using bokeh, photographers can guide the viewer’s focus while simultaneously creating a stunning depth effect.
Since bokeh is such an effective photography tool, purchasing a smartphone that already includes a built-in bokeh mode is a smart investment. For example, the new Nokia 7.1 uses its dual rear camera to create a bokeh effect that rivals that of an expensive SLR camera. Using background blur effectively can make your smartphone photos indistinguishable from professional photography.
Photography is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of impactful purposes; from documenting the happiest moments of our lives, to creating viral content, or even launching a political revolution. Using these 4 photography secrets will help transform your smartphone photos into professional pieces of visual art. So, what are you waiting for? Time to get snapping!