Most of us always carry a phone, which means most of us always have a camera to hand. This week at Snakehive we’ve been pondering on how to capture the autumn colours using a smartphone camera in our quest to get more from our phones.
Obviously different phones will deliver different camera specs but that’s a blog for another day. There are also 3rd party camera apps that give additional functionality to an inbuilt phone camera - we like ProCam. And similarly there are many different ways to edit photos directly on a phone with photo-editing apps like Snapseed for iPhone or Android. But for now we’re simply looking at using colour as a way to get a great shot as-is.
Firstly the fundamentals of a good photo: we’re focusing on colour but we also need to think about space, light and placement of our autumn subject. All these contribute to the composition of a shot – in essence how we choose to arrange everything in the photo.
Colour commands attention. And autumn is like no other season – the rich oranges and reds in the trees as the leaves are turning is nothing but spectacular. A splash of colour that differs from the rest of the tones in a photo is going to stand out even if the texture of the scene is pretty similar, which is going to be the case with a pile of leaves for example. Look out for that bright pop of colour surrounded by contrasting shades, like this:
Or try using a different background texture to direct attention in an autumn scene, as shown here:
Utilise empty space when setting up a scene. For example if looking at a tree, focus on a single branch or leaf and set against a blue sky backdrop to really make the branch stand out. This can work better than a scene filled with the whole tree as it’s less distracting.
Light can also help direct attention. We tend to look at things that are brightly lit, or lit in way that differs from the rest of the scene. Light can also change the colour of a shot. For example, daylight tends to be neutral or slightly blue, sunrise and sunset light tends to be warm. If you don’t like the effect, come back to shoot at a different time of day or take the photo from another angle. Disable the flash on the phone as it’s almost always too harsh, and experiment with the HDR mode as this can be a great tool to improve the amount of light and dark in an image.
One member of the Snakehive team has introduced the rest of us to gridlines, which has transformed our photos. Enabling the gridlines function on a camera makes it easier to structure a photo. If there’s a line that should be straight - like a fallen tree trunk along the ground – use the gridlines to avoid a wonky line to make the shot more attractive.
Keeping to photographers’ favoured ‘rule of thirds’ means placing a subject along one of the gridlines or where two gridlines intersect. Try to avoid the subject being in the centre as this can lead to a boring photo. And when setting up a shot of a tree or grasses it works well to have the horizon on the lower horizontal line, with branches and leaves filling the upper sections of the shot to give the subject more prominence, as in this scene.
Don’t use the zoom function as this can result in poor quality, blurry images. Take the photo and crop it later to preserve the quality. The crop function is great for editing unintentional extras that’ll distract from a subject too.
If you’re interested in learning more about taking photos on your phone, there are courses that specialise in just this area. Check out The Art of Mobile Photography from Udemy or if you have an iPhone we recommend iPhone Photography School; it’s a great resource with free online tutorials.
So remember to take your phone out of your pocket or bag and enjoy experimenting with the autumn colours. We can all utilise the camera on our phones to capture the everyday moments. Photos shouldn’t be just about holidays, nights out and big events in life after all.
And finally, we couldn't finish the blog without one last piece of advice - always ensure your phone and screen are well protected with a good quality case for any unplanned mishaps while out in the woods enjoying the autumn scenery! We’ve got lots of beautiful cases for many different phones here at Snakehive.
PS. Know someone who would like this? We'd love you to share with a friend.
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