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In last week’s tutorial you learned everything about taking great sunset photos. I didn’t have a chance to talk about post-processing last week, so I’ll explain how to edit great sunset photos in this week’s tutorial.
By the end of this tutorial you’ll know how edit amazing sunset photos using Snapseed, a free photo editing app that’s available both for iOS and Android. In fact, I’ll explain not just one way to edit sunset photos, but two very different scenarios leading to very different - and yet equally beautiful - end results. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The Golden Sunset
In the first scenario we’ll look at how I took the following rather pale image - and turned it into the vibrant golden sunset you can see at the top of this article. Feel free to download this image (tap on hold on iPhone) to follow along with the tutorial.
After importing the image into Snapseed, I started by straightening the horizon using the Straighten module. Honestly, this horizon is fine the way it is, but I’m really a perfectionist when it comes to straight horizons, so I rotated the image to the right by +0.55 degrees.
These adjustments are performed by slowly sliding the finger along the side of the image until the built-in gridlines perfectly align with the horizon.
After saving changes using the bottom-right arrow, I opened the Tune Image module in which the remaining edits were performed.
I started by increasing ambience to +65. To access ambience, simply swipe up and down the screen until ambience is selected from the list of possible adjustments. Then swipe horizontally until you find the perfect value for ambience.
I often start with ambience, which is a really cool adjustment that brings out the midtones while at the same time increasing the clarity of the photo. For sunsets, I like to increase ambience a lot. I generally go up for as long as the photo still looks natural.
After ambience I moved on to adjusting contrast. After a bit of playing around, I found that +15 offered a nice balance between making the image more dynamic while at the same time not washing out the colors too much.
Note that at this point the photo already looks so much better than it did initially, and it would be perfectly fine if you were to stop at this point. However, I wanted to go for a golden look in this photo, which is why I made some further adjustments.
My next stop was at saturation, which was increased all the way to +50. Now, this might look like an extreme adjustment, and at this point the image has a somewhat blue tint in the sky. But keep in mind that I still have one more adjustment to go.
The final adjustment I made was white balance, which I increased to +20 to add a golden look to the image. Note that after increasing white balance the high saturation values no longer make the photo cold and blue, and it feels more pleasing overall.
After some playing around, I decided to leave the brightness at zero, save changes and export the resulting image to camera roll. Remember to always manually save each photo from the home screen of Snapseed using the share icon at the top right corner.
Finally, you might be wondering how I was able pick all the adjustment values without ever changing my mind. In fact, I did change my mind quite a few times while I was playing with all the adjustments to see what works best for this image. Only afterwards I wrote them all down so that I could keep this tutorial somewhat organized.
You should also be prepared to spend some time in Tune Image until you figure out what really works best for your image. It may take you 10 minutes or longer, but your time will be more than worth it when you finally create that sunset of a lifetime.
The Black & White Sunset
Wait, what? Aren’t sunsets supposed to be in color? Not necessarily, as I’ll show you in the second part of this tutorial. For this section, I’ll be using the following image, so feel free to download it to your mobile device to follow along.
The first thing that strikes me in this photo is the leading lines that are formed by the dark paths of dry sand. In a nutshell, leading lines are lines that literally lead your eyes through the image towards your main subject. In this photo you can see that the dark paths of dry sand go from the bottom left to the right towards my main subject.
My primary goal with editing this photo will be to further emphasize these leading lines by increasing contrast and converting the image to black and white.
Once again, the first thing I did after opening the photo was straightening the horizon by +0.44 degrees. Just because I can.
After straightening the horizon, I opened the Tune Image module where I increased ambience to +60. From experience I know that the sky and clouds look great if the ambience is increased BEFORE converting the photo to black and white.
After applying changes, I opened the Black & White module, which immediately converted my photo into black and white. However, I still want to adjust brightness and contrast to get even better results.
The next step was increasing contrast to +13 right inside the Black & White module. This value offers a nice balance between making the leading lines more prominent, while at the same time not loosing too much detail in the shadows.
The final adjustment was increasing brightness to +40, which gives the photo a lighter feel, while at the same time preserving dark leading lines and all the essential detail in the sky.
Just like in the previous scenario, I decided that +13 and +40 was the perfect combination by adjusting both the contrast and brightness simultaneously. However, in this case I had only one option to choose the value for ambience, which was set to the highest possible level that still looked relatively natural. Here is the end result of this editing.
I’ve achieved my goal of making the leading lines stand out and bring more attention to the main subject. I also hope that I’ve shown you that sunset photos don’t necessarily have to be in color as they can also look great in black and white.
If you’d like to learn more about editing sunset photos, I’ve created a free iPhone photo editing video course in which I cover editing sunset photos in more detail.
This tutorial is written by Emil Pakarklis, a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School.
In this visual guide, we will guide you through our simple order process and show you how to order photo prints with our new alternative aspect ratios.
1. Click on Print or directly visit www.ink361.com/buy
2. Select the product you want to order For this tutorial we have selected Fine Art Print, but you can scroll down to see the full range of products.
3. Select a size We have chosen 12” x 18”.
4. Select a photo or upload a photo Uploading a photo is best for better quality prints. This is especially important for bigger size prints. You can take a note of the blue star rating on screen - the higher number of starts, the better your photos will turn out!
5. Crop your shot You can simply drag the little blue dot on your photo to crop the shot or drag the frame around to move where you are cropping your photo. Please be aware that when you crop a photo a lot, the quality of the photo will decrease.
6. Preview your work of art Click on Preview to see how your crop has turned out
7. Click on the pink “Add to Cart” button and you’re ready to order your next print!
*Product images by @ottorisotto. **Offer valid for printing your own photos only and is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Promotion ends September 19th 2013 EST Midnight.
Sunset photos are everywhere - on Facebook, Instagram and on postcards - and everyone seems to love them. Indeed, my experience shows that sunset photos get more likes on Instagram than any other type of photography.
This happens for a very good reason - there is no better time to take breathtaking photos than during sunset. However, there are a few essential sunset photography tricks that you should follow in order to get the most out of your photos.
Since this is a shooting and not editing tutorial, all the photos you see on this page are 100% untouched, coming straight from the iPhone 4S. Editing sunset photos will be covered on a separate tutorial next week.
Step 1: Pick The Perfect Day
Half of your sunset photography success is already determined even before you take our your smartphone, and this is especially true if you’re shooting in a large, open space like the beach. I’m talking about the weather here, which is perhaps the trickiest component of sunset photography.
Of course, you can’t pick an overcast day because then there will be no sunset at all. However, you also don’t want to pick a perfectly clear day because sunsets are always more beautiful when there are clouds in the sky. As you look through the photos in this post, you’ll notice that almost all of them have clouds.
Of course, this often leads to a complicated situation, especially if you don’t live close to the shooting location. If the sky is partially cloudy, you don’t really know how the evening is going to develop - and whether the sun will disappear in the clouds altogether. You’ve got to be ready for a disappointment if you’re trying to capture the perfect sunset photo.
To improve my chances, I prefer to go to the shooting location - the beach in my case - about an hour before the actual sunset. That way I can usually see the sun for at least a few moments.
Finally, when there are clouds, no two sunsets will ever look the same, because clouds provide an infinite variation creating a unique character for the particular evening. And it’s good to know that no one will ever be able to take the same photo as you did.
Step 2: Pick The Perfect Location
To take great sunset photos, you should pick a location where you can actually see the sunset. My favorite sunset location is the beach and I am very lucky to be living next to one. However, you can also take amazing sunset photos on lake shores, in large open fields, from high buildings and in the desert.
If you’re shooting next to a body of water, it’s best if the sun actually sets over water so that the view is unobscured. If that’s not possible, you may choose to take sunrise photos following the same principles.
Another factor to consider is the availability of good subjects. Empty photos rarely look good, so make sure that the area you’re shooting in has plenty of interesting subjects to choose from. You should never be taking a photo of the sunset itself. The sunset alone can’t be your subject. You should always be taking a photo of your subject, who just happens to be in the sunset.
To demonstrate my point, the photo above was taken during an incredibly beautiful sunset by a lake. But there are no interesting subjects in this photo, so it’s plain and boring. The sunset alone can’t be your subject.
Step 3: Pick The Perfect Subject
Once you’re at the shooting location, constantly be on the lookout for interesting subjects. My favorite subjects are people, which is why I like to shoot on a busy beach. But you can also find interesting non-human subjects like the old-school hot tub above or the little beach house below.
Step 4: Find The Perfect Angle
Most of my sunset photos are shot against the setting sun so that they turn into silhouettes. Since silhouettes are nearly black, you will get a lot more contrast if they are surrounded by bright sky as opposed to dark ground.
This photo was taken from the wrong angle as there is no contrast between the legs of the kids and their surroundings. I was still able to correct this mistake with editing, but the photo would have been much better if I was lying low and the subjects were positioned against the bright sky as seen in the next photo.
Notice how in this photo - and in several others - the sun is hidden directly behind my main subject. This little trick helps me avoid lens flare and blown out areas that are otherwise inevitable if the sun is shining into the lens.
You can get even more creative if your subject is surrounded by water or other wet surfaces. Since these surfaces reflect light, you can also take a silhouette against the light that’s reflected from the wet surface.
If you want to get really creative - and if you aren’t afraid of dropping your iPhone - you can take a really interesting shot by placing the iPhone just a few inches above water. That way even the smallest waves will add a unique character to the photo by altering the shape of everything that’s reflected in the water.
There are endless creative possibilities when shooting in the sunset, so make sure you experiment with different angles to find out something that really makes your photos stand out.
Step 5: Capture The Perfect Moment
Once you’ve picked the perfect day, the perfect place, the perfect subject and the perfect angle, it’s time to capture the perfect moment. I have two tips to make sure you capture that truly unique moment that only lasts for a split-second.
First, I strongly recommend that you look for the right moment with your own eyes, not through the display of your smartphone. Sure, you need to look at your phone to set everything up, but when you’re just waiting for your subject to assume the perfect pose, it’s best to trust your own eyes.
When you’re taking candid shots of people you don’t know - like all the shots on this page - the perfect moment will only last for a split second. You’ll miss that moment if you’re looking at the world through your smartphone.
Finally, feel free to take multiple nearly identical shots, especially if your subjects are moving. You’ll always have a chance to delete your photos later, but you may only have one chance to capture that magical moment you’ve been waiting for.
If you’d like to learn about editing sunset photos, I’ve created a free iPhone photo editing video course in which I also cover editing sunset photos.
This tutorial is written by Emil Pakarklis. Emil is a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone.
Taking Pictures of kids can feel like a lot of work, but really they aren’t too hard to figure out. In the 6 years I have been taking family photos I have developed a few tips and trick to capture that natural sweet look of kids that can turn a good picture into a great picture. I hope you can use these tricks in your own photography to capture those precious moments. I have broken down my tips by age group because as many parents know what works for the 2 year old doesn’t work for the 10 year old.
Babies (0-1) I don’t use a lot of tricks with babies, but the 2 that I consistently use are first, I give them as much time as they need. I never go into a shoot with a newborn thinking this will be a piece of cake because honestly they are usually my longest photo sessions. If I am in a hurry or trying to rush the baby I know my shoot will be a flop. That kid takes control of everyone the second it’s born, why would I think it would be different for my schedule and me? My second trick I use for newborns is a blow dryer. The mix between the warm air and the loud white noise makes them calm down so much that it makes my job a breeze. I obviously don’t put it too close to them, I barley let the air hit them at all. I also give the mom the blow dryer and let her have a job so that she let’s me do what I need to with the baby. This also comes in handy because I always have really cold hands. I use the blow dryer to warm up my hands and then the baby let’s me handle them however I want.
Toddlers (1-3) Wow where do I start with this age group? They are always the ones that run the show for me so if I am at a shoot you better believe the one I’m jumping through hoops for is that 2 year old. If I can keep that kid happy then the parents will be happy and that makes my job so much easier. Before I even take a picture I make sure I am watching the toddler to see if I can pick up on anything. Is she hungry, or tired? What parent or sibling does she take to the best? Does he like to be held or does she like to run around? Is she shy or loud? Does she like it when I talk to her or am I going to have to have the parent’s help me out? I size them up from the beginning and I stick to what I know until I feel like I have won them over.
If they are shy I will have them come over and look at my camera. I will let them push some buttons and look through the viewfinder. Some kids are out right scared of that big camera that you keep pointing at them.
Honestly, some kids don’t even know what it is until they see the picture on the back and then it dawns on them that it’s a camera. This always seems to get them on board and then they trust me.
If they are active and outgoing then I let them run around and I try to do the older kids first. I let them get a little board of their surroundings and then they aren’t so anxious to run all over the place when it’s time to take their pictures.
If they are uncooperative then I feel like it’s family playtime. This is a perfect time for parents to cuddle them or play with them and it’s your time to get those candid images that we all know parent’s just love.
Don’t be afraid to try peek-a-boo or to find a “really cool rock” that they get to hold if they give you a smile, then find a “ bigger, better and cooler” rock for the next shot. Try pointing out a bird in the sky or tell them that if they are all really quiet they can hear the crickets. This will settle them down for a few minutes and I can get some really cute candid shots at this time. They are curious so play into that.
Kids (4-9) This age is so fun, they are so excited to make you happy and do what you what (most of the time). They also love really bad jokes and really disgusting behavior. I love telling the joke, how do you catch a unique rabbit…unique up on it. The little girls love this joke. They also love it when I tell them not to smile. It ALWAYS makes them smile and if you keep bugging them about not smiling it always turns into a laugh.
Boys usually just want to play around or they just feel dumb smiling for you so try to say something to loosen them up. Say I am talking to a 6 year old boy, I’d say “so are you turning 13 this year?” I always get this crazy eyed look like are you nuts you dumb lady, and then they laugh at me and tell me they are 6. Then I say oh so are you going into 6th grade this year? And then I get the same response and I get the perfect smile from them. I have found that if you give them their space and just use a little wit it goes a long way. It also never hurts to throw in a booger joke or two, I know… all respect for me just flew out the window.
Older kids (9 and up) I have nieces and nephews that I have been taking pictures of for years now and it seems like 9 and 10 is the age where they start to think for themselves and they want a little respect. If you show them some respect then they are all too willing to give it back to you. Ask them about school and be completely sincere. What are their hobbies? Ask them if there are any cute girls/boys in their class. Find out what position they play in soccer and if they scored any goals lately. Give them your time and they will give you theirs.
Compliment them like crazy. The girls want to be told they look beautiful. Show them their pictures and let them see for themselves how great they are turning out. Confidence is key to get them to work with you.
If they keep pulling a cheesy smile or if they boys just can’t give you a natural pose then show them the picture and say “you look a little uncomfortable, can you try this… instead?” Show them what you are talking about and then they will understand you better. They are pulling that awkward smile because somewhere they thought it made them look cool. If you show them (in a VERY respectful way) that they are coming across uncomfortable in the images they aren’t going to want to look like that. Help them correct it and show them the results, they will get on board, I promise.
No matter what age my clients are, I sincerely give them my time. It’s so common for me at the end of the shoot to have that little 5 year old reach up and grab my hand for a minute. I work the entire time to gain their trust and to get a sincere connection with them. If I’m fake with them, then the pictures will look fake. If I’m sincere then those kids will respond to me in a way that parent’s always say “I can’t believe you caught that look!” or “She gave you her real smile, I never get her to give a real smile.” When I hear that I know I made a connection and I know that I did my job right.
I feel like for any age group of children it’s pretty safe to say, just let them be kids. Kids don’t like to be pushed, especially by someone they don’t know. If you allow them to be themselves then they will open up to you and let you see who they really are.
"How to take awesome photos of your kids" is by Leslie Hunter (@childleslie), a professional photographer and author of "A Mother’s Guide to Photographing your Children". For more tips and tricks please visit her website at www.takesthevillage.com.
This tutorial is written by Emil Pakarklis. Emil is a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone.
In this week’s tutorial we are going to cover one of the most common photo edits - creating monochromatic photos. Many of you might already be familiar with creating B&W photos, but monochromatic photos do not necessary have to be black and white.
The photo above is clearly not in color, but it is also not black and white since the entire photo has a yellowish tint. In other words, this is a monochromatic photo, and in this tutorial I’m going to show you exactly how to create images like this.
We’ll go trough the entire process step-by-step, starting from shooting and cropping and moving into the exact edits that were performed so that you know how to create similar photos on your own.
Step 1: Shooting
This is the original file without any edits. Feel free to download this photo to follow along with the tutorial (tap and hold the image from your iPhone).
The sea was quite rough, which makes the overall scene more dynamic. There were some very beautiful clouds in the background, so I included them in the photos that I took. It was quite late and the sun was already getting low, as you can see at the top left corner.
Of course, a beach photo without interesting subjects will rarely look good, so I looked for other people to include in the shot. Since the sun was low and I was shooting against it, I knew that people would turn into interesting silhouettes.
I found an old man gazing into the sea, and I noticed that another man was walking in his direction from the left side. When the other man got close enough, I shot several photos of the two men. Even though this moment lasted for only a few seconds, I took five shots of this scene.
Note: that I deliberately tried to keep the sun out of the frame as it would turn into a large white area in the middle of the sky. At the same time, I wanted to capture as much of the sky as possible, so the sun is just outside the frame, creating and interesting effect.
Step 2: Straightening And Cropping
The first thing you’ll notice is that the horizon in not straight in this image. This is actually a common problem for shots that were taken quickly, but fortunately it is really easy to fix it.
To straighten the horizon, select the Straighten module in Snapseed, and drag your finger along the side of the image until you’re happy with the result. Here I found that rotating the image by about +1.3 degrees fixed the issue.
After confirming the adjustments using the bottom-right arrow, I opened the Crop module. I picked 4:3 as the aspect ratio to keep it fixed (use 1:1 for Instagram photos). I then played around with the composition until I stopped at the following.
With this composition my goal was to keep the sky prominent while also bringing attention to the subjects of this photo. I also like that the sun rays are now coming from the corner of the image, which I think looks a lot more harmonious.
Step 3: Ambience
Did you notice that the sky looks really extraordinary, almost surreal in the final version of this photo? That’s because of a little trick I did before converting the image into B&W. I’m talking about Ambience, which you can find in the Tune Image module.
If you’re new to Snapseed, you can go through different adjustments by swiping the screen vertically, and change the values of each adjustment by swiping the screen horizontally. To find Ambience, open Tune Image module and go down the list of adjustments.
Ambience, which is one of the best features of Snapseed, brings out the midtones of the image, which often emphasizes interesting details and makes the images appear more clear. You want to increase Ambiance BEFORE converting images to B&W.
Why did I select +75? It would probably be way too much if I wanted to keep the image in color. However, from experience I know that monochromatic images generally look better with high Ambience values. While +100 would probably be too much, +75 is a good level for an image like this. Now we’re ready to convert the image to B&W!
Step 4: Black And White
Even though monochromatic photos are not necessarily B&W, to create a monochromatic photo you must start by converting it to black and white. This can be done using the Black & White module in Snapseed. Other than converting the image to B&W, this module also allows you to adjust Brightness and Contrast.
By tapping on the star icon at the bottom of the screen, you can check out what various combinations of Brightness and Contrast will look like for your photo. However, I prefer to adjust these settings manually, and I normally like to start with Contrast.
After some experimenting, I decided to keep Contrast at +15 as this level provides a good balance between making the image more dynamic and not making the sky look dull. Next I adjusted the Brightness of the image.
Here I decided to go for -10, thus making the image a little bit darker. This level makes the sky even more surreal while at the same time not loosing too much detail in the shadows.
If we were simply creating a B&W image, we would be done at this point. Just in case I need it later, I saved this version of the photo, which you can see below.
Step 5: White Balance
This is where the monochromatic part of the tutorial finally starts. In order to create a monochromatic image, all you have to do is take a B&W photo and change its White Balance using Snapseed. You can find White Balance in Tune Image module.
To create a sepia effect, change the White Balance to something between +10 and +30. The exact adjustment depends on each photo as well as on your own preference. In this case I decided to go for +20, which is how I created the image at the top of this post.
However, with White Balance you can do so much more than just create sepia images. As you swipe through the entire range of possible values, you’ll discover a variety of different color options for your monochromatic photos. Here are just three more examples.
As you can see above, the White Balance adjustment in Snapseed allows you to get really creative with your monochromatic images. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and you’ll surely find something interesting!
If you’d like to learn more about editing photos in Snapseed, I’ve created a free iPhone photo editing video course in which I cover this amazing app in a lot more detail.
"Adding creative text to photos using LetterGlow" is written by our awesome friends at LetterGlow.
In this tutorial we will cover some short, simple instructions on how to apply text to your iPhone photos using the LetterGlow app. LetterGlow was recently released on the App Store and can be used in numerous ways to tell more of the story behind your photos. The app includes a strong set of features including full resolution support, the ability to install your own fonts, 100+ design overlays, the ability to save templates, and extensive sharing options like Dropbox & WordPress.
Here’s how to do a simple design using text and overlays in LetterGlow.
Step 1. Selecting a photo
LetterGlow allows you to take a photo from within the app or select from the device’s photo library and then either crop to a square format or keep the original rectangular image. The full resolution of your images is retained and not reduced like many other editing apps.
After selecting and cropping (if required), you are then presented with the main screen containing the default text over the photo and 4 primary options in the bottom menu: Text, Overlays, Image Adjustments & Templates.
Step 2. Adding text
A simple double tap on the default text box loads the text edit screen. Here you enter your text and can change the font (choose from the 40 included), size, alignment and also add symbols (including items like copyright).
Step 3. Editing text
Back on the main screen, the Text option provides a number of tools to further adjust your text. Here is where you’ll find extra adjustments for font, alignment, color, size, opacity, angle, positioning, as well as line & letter spacing. The + button in the Text menu allows you quickly add multiple items of text, all with their own styling if desired.
Step 4. Adding overlays
The Overlays option provides a number or design elements that can help enhance your message or just bring a bit of extra style to the final image. The 120 included overlays are split between phrases, shapes, lines and decorations categories. Selecting and applying multiple different overlays to create your design is an easy process and, as with the Text option, you can also adjust the color, size, opacity, angle, and position of each overlay.
Step 5. Adjusting the photo
The Image Adjustment option gives you tools to add light or dark tint to the photo (helping the text standout from the background), allow you to re-crop and also to optionally replace with a new image (useful when doing similar edits with a string of photos).
The Template option provides a utility for applying designs (text & overlays) that have been saved from previous edits. Templates are especially beneficial for quickly adding watermarks to your images or for saving design projects that are a work-in-progress.
Step 6. Save & share
When a photo edit is completed, you just need to tap the small arrow in the white strip at the bottom of the screen to bring up the NEW and DONE options. NEW is used to go back to the home screen and DONE presents the sharing options screen. All of the common save and sharing options are available (email, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram). Additionally, LetterGlow provides saving to Flickr & Dropbox as well as a WordPress-powered website or blog.
Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to craft your story with LetterGlow, it’s time to let loose with your own creativity. Have fun with it and share your creations with the world!
P.S. As a little bonus, here’s some extra tips for creating a great design:
Tip 1. Install your own font files to expand on the included set (from the Options area). Great free fonts for personal use are available on fontsquirrel.com, dafont.com and many other sites.
Tip 2. Make use of the Move tool for both text and overlays to make fine positioning adjustments.
Tip 3. When an item is selected, tapping outside the box and sliding makes it much easier to re-position things accurately too.
Tip 4. Similarly, pinch your fingers outside the selected box to re-size. This helps you get the right sizing by seeing the whole text as it scales.
Tip 5. Layer different overlays together to create a unique design. Adjusting opacity & color will bring new effects as well.
by Emil Pakarklis - a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone
Silhouetting is one of the most interesting iPhone photography techniques. Besides the fact that silhouettes simply look great, silhouetting allows you to eliminate unnecessary detail from your photos while drawing extra attention to your main subjects.
Since some key details are always lost in silhouette photos, they tend to have a lot more mystery to them. This allows the viewer to fill in the blanks in whatever way they prefer, thus unfolding a unique story inside the mind of each person looking at the photo.
Beginners tend to assume that it’s really hard to take silhouette photos. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. By following a few simple principles, anyone can take spectacular silhouette photos that are guaranteed to impress your friends and family.
Finding Strong Backlight
The first thing you’ll need in order to create silhouettes is a strong backlight. What it means is that the light source should be located behind your main subject or subjects.
Since sky is almost always the brightest part of the scene, one simple way to get strong backlight is simply pointing the iPhone towards the sky, as seen in the photo below.
The problem is that you’ll rarely find interesting subjects that can be shot from the bottom with nothing but sky in the background. For this reason you’ll often have to look for other situations where the light is coming from behind your subject.
Perhaps the most common way to find strong backlight is to shoot when the sun is low above the horizon, thus creating a strong horizontal flow of light. This is the case close to sunrise and sunset, or throughout the day in winter for those of you at a high latitude.
The photo above was shot right before sunset with the light coming from behind the subjects. This leaves the subjects in the shadow, and since the iPhone automatically exposes for the largest parts of the image, the people in the scene are silhouetted.
Note that this only works because the sun is shining from behind the subjects. If I were to turn around with the sun shining from behind my back, there would be no silhouettes and the entire scene would be equally exposed.
One potential problem with shooting against the sun is that the sun will often shine directly into your iPhone’s lens. Depending on the photo, this could be a good or bad thing. In the photo above the sun interferes with the main subject to create a very interesting effect, but in many other photos having the sun inside the frame could potentially be a problem since it blows out large areas and often leads to annoying lens flare.
However, the solution to this problem is very simple. All you have to do is hide the sun disc right behind your main subject, and any issues with lens flare or large blown-out areas will simply disappear.
While sunsets provide a wonderful opportunity for creating beautiful silhouettes, you don’t have to wait until the evening to shoot silhouettes. Often you can also find strong backlight throughout the day by making use of various architectural features.
Perhaps the most obvious such example - when bright daylight enters a dark area from the outside - was used to create the silhouette above. Did you notice that the silhouette is also seen in the reflection? That’s because water and wet surfaces in general do a great job at reflecting light, which can often lead to great silhouette opportunities as well.
In the photo above, all the light comes from the bottom of the scene since it’s reflected from the wet surfaces during a sunny summer rain. While it doesn’t happen very often, sunshine during or immediately after rain is perfect for creating silhouettes.
So far we have described a few of the most common light conditions that create a strong backlight. As you become more experienced with light, you’ll discover even more situations that allow you to create beautiful silhouettes with the iPhone.
Finding The Perfect Subject
Although it’s been implied throughout this tutorial, I want to emphasize the importance of finding the right subject(s) for your silhouettes. Since most detail will be lost anyway, is is absolutely essential that your subjects have a clear and interesting outline.
I often pick people as the subjects for my silhouette photos, and I’ve noticed that having a few distinct persons in the frame generally works a lot better than having many people in the scene. That way every silhouette gets the complete attention it deserves.
It is also very important that your silhouettes don’t overlap. Since you can only see the outline of each silhouette, overlapping silhouettes will quickly become indistinguishable from one another, thus creating a confusing and inharmonious image.
Finally, I’ve noticed that photos of movement often result in great silhouettes, especially if the movement results in the subject taking an unusual position as seen above.
Now that you know how easy it is to shoot great silhouettes, feel free to experiment with different subjects and light conditions until you capture your perfect silhouette photo. I’m sure that with a bit of patience and experimentation you’ll be able to capture something that will make you happy for years to come.
"Advanced Composition Techniques" by Emil Pakarklis - a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone
Last week I wrote a tutorial covering the rule of thirds, one of the most important guidelines in all forms of photography. Since this article is going to cover more advanced composition techniques, you should check out the previous article first.
According to the rule of thirds, the main subjects of your photo should be placed at the intersections of gridlines. In other words, the parts of the image that the eye sees first - such as people or anything else that the eye is naturally drawn to - should be positioned at one of the four intersection points.
There are four points at which the gridlines intersect, but you will rarely have more than two main subjects in a photo. So how do you know which intersection points to use in a particular photo? Turns out that there are some simple guidelines that ensure that the composition always looks harmonious - and that your photos look great.
The Direction Of Movement
In many photography situations your subjects have a natural direction of movement. Even though photography only captures stationary scenes, there is often an implicit movement inside the composition. Subjects such as cars, animals and people almost always move forward, so human eyes naturally expect them to do so even in a stationary scene.
The trick is to allow our eyes to follow the movement by having enough free space in the direction towards which the subject is moving. In the photo above, the cyclist is moving to the right, and our eyes naturally want to follow that movement.
If the cyclist was placed on the right side of the frame, the picture would look very strange. By placing him on the left side, there is enough space for our eyes to follow the movement, and the composition looks harmonious.
In the photo above, there are two cyclists, which I have placed roughly at the intersections of the gridlines. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that I have again left a bit more space on the right side than on the left side so that our eyes can follow the movement. While this difference is barely perceptible, it makes the overall composition a lot more harmonious. And here is yet another example of the same principle.
The same principles - namely the rule of thirds and the directional principle - also apply when shooting human faces. But what is the main subject of a portrait photo? Or let me rephrase this - what is the first thing you notice when looking at someone’s face?
If you said it’s the eyes, you were correct. Indeed, in portraits the eyes should always lie along the top gridline, and the point right between the eyes should ideally be placed at the intersection of gridlines, as I tried to do in the photo above.
The directional principle also applies in portrait photography whenever the person is at least partially facing sideways. In that case you should always leave empty space in the direction towards which the person is looking as that is the direction that human eyes will naturally try to follow. Just try doing the opposite, and you’ll see strange it looks.
Another important compositional guideline is the so-called diagonal method. This guideline states that the parts of the image with a lot of visual weight - such as the subjects or other extraordinary areas - should be placed diagonally, which makes the image more balanced.
In general, photos look better when areas with a lot of visual weight are found at the top and bottom, as well as on the left and right side. This may seem like a challenge, but all you need is two (or more) areas with a lot of visual wight that are placed diagonally.
In the photo above the cliff on the top left and the rocks at the bottom right have a lot more visual weight than the rest of the composition. For this reason they are placed diagonally, which makes the composition balanced both horizontally and vertically.
The following photo of a lighthouse is yet another example of the same principle.
Break All The Rules
Finally, I want to emphasize that all composition rules that I have covered (even the rule of thirds) shouldn’t really be called rules. They are useful guidelines at most, and they should be treated as such.
Just look at the following photo. It doesn’t really follow any composition guidelines, and yet I wouldn’t have taken it any other way.
And this is just one of the hundreds of photos that I shot without directly following any compositional guidelines.
Or how about this photo? In the previous tutorial I told you to avoid placing the main subject in the center of the photo, and yet that’s exactly what I’ve done here.
The bottom line is that compositional guidelines can certainly help you in many different situations, but at the end of the day they are just guidelines, and as a photographer you should always feel free to break them. After all, in photography (or any other form of art) creativity is far more important than simply following the established guidelines.
"How to create a custom phone case" Video by Emil Pakarklis - a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone
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"The Rule Of Thirds In iPhone Photography Tutorial" by Emil Pakarklis - a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone
The Rule Of Thirds In iPhone Photography
There is a saying that no editing can turn a bad photo into a good one, so the first step in creating a spectacular photo is capturing it right. It turns out that the quality of any photo is largely determined by its composition, so that’s what we’ll be covering first.
One of the key principles in any form of photography is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds uses gridlines, which are lines splitting the photo in three equal parts, to determine where the main subjects of the photo should be placed.
The Main Subject Of The Photo
Wait, you don’t know what the main subject of your photo is?
The main subject is the part (or the parts) of the photo that the human eye notices first. In many cases, the main subject is what you were actually taking a photo of. For example, in the following photo the first thing you noticed is the person reading a book on the beach.
So that person is the main subject of the photo.
If your photo doesn’t have a clear main subject (or subjects), the chances are that it’s not a very good photo. After all, you don’t even know what you were taking a photo of…
The Rule Of Thirds
Now that we’re clear on this, let’s turn our attention to the the rule of thirds. According to this rule, the main subject or subjects of your photo should be placed at the intersections of gridlines.
If your primary subject is a person, their eyes and head form most important part of the composition. That’s why the cyclist’s head was intentionally placed at the intersection of the gridlines.
Similarly, the rule of thirds also states that the most important lines in the photo (such as the horizon) or any other lines such as trees should be placed along the gridlines.
If you take a closer look at the photo of the cyclist, you’ll notice that the line separating sand from water is placed along with the bottom horizontal gridline.
And if you look at the B&W silhouette photo at the top of this post, you’ll notice that the horizon roughly coincides with the bottom gridline.
The Most Common Mistake Beginners Make
If you’re like most people, you will intuitively try to place your main subject in the center of the photo. Unfortunately that is also the absolutely worst thing you can do to your photos, and even placing the subject slightly off the center will look a lot better.
Consider the photo above. The flower is obviously the only thing that’s even worth looking at in this photo. But I still placed the flower off the center to put it in the surrounding context and make the composition more harmonious by following the rule of thirds.
Or consider this photo of a lighthouse. Once again, I only took this photo because of the lighthouse… and yet I placed the lighthouse on the side of the composition.
Even though it’s counterintuitive, the best thing you can do to your photography is to never place the subject that you’re taking a photo of in the center. It might feel weird, but it works.
How To Turn On The Gridlines
If you don’t automatically think about photos in terms of composition, make sure to turn on the gridlines so that you’re constantly reminded about composition and the rule of thirds.
You can turn on gridlines in almost any camera app, and they will make many composition decisions a lot easier for you. To turn on gridlines on the iPhone, tap on the Options button inside the iPhone’s camera app, and make sure that Grid switch is turned on.
Next week we’re going to go beyond the basics and cover more advanced composition techniques, so stay tuned for more!