Sunday, September 17, 2017

Photography Level: Pedant

None of the photos in this blog post have been doctored, they are all straight from my semi-potato phone — Samsung Galaxy S5.
Except for the previous post, I tend to be quite pedantic about the photos that I take. Here are the rules I try to follow when taking a photo:
  1. The entirety of the object / area of focus should be in the frame.
    Make sure the shot contains the entirety of the object you are trying to take — it shouldn't have part of the object cut off around the edges. If it's a closer shot of an object, it's okay to have only the targeted area in the frame, but it still musn't cut off the object in an imbalanced manner.
  2. Take an intentionally straight photo, or an intentionally slanted one; don't take a crooked / imbalanced photo.
    The photograph on the left was hurriedly taken, and you can see it already violates the first rule. On the right, the photograph is much straighter. Below is another example:
    The left photograph is ever so slightly imbalanced with a bit more of the left pillar in the photograph. The one on the right is intentionally slanted for the cathedral to fit in the photo.
  3. Don't have parts of unimportant objects in the photo frame
    This was taken in an exhibition. On the bottom right you can see there's a bit of a bucket, which prevents what would otherwise have been a clean shot.
    This is one of the hardest things to control when there's people around — they appear in the shot, usually around the bottom or side edges.
  4. Have even padding around the sides of the object
    In the left photograph, the bottom right of the notebook is quite close to the edge of the frame compared to the left, and is actually slightly cut off. The photograph on the right is balanced with enough blank space on each side
  5. Don't include unnecessary shadow.
    This is especially hard when taking close up shots with a light source you can't move, and usually the angle of the shot changes. The photographs in the previous rule are more forward facing rather than top-down, to avoid the shadow of my hand / my phone.


I really dislike selfie shots (is that officially a word now?), because to me it promotes narcissism1. However I don't mind photos with oneself in it, as a keepsake. Part of me wonders, where did it go — the time where we wouldn't hesitate to ask a stranger to help us take a photograph.
Anyway, I've been going places and sometimes I do want to take photographs with myself in them. Here's my take on how to do that:
  1. Find the frame.
    This is pretty much use your eyes to find a spot that matches all the previous rules. You can also just take your camera and aim it somewhere to see what you will be taking. Also, make sure to check with your camera in the position that you will be setting it — don't hold up your camera when aiming, put it as close to wherever it's going to be sitting when it takes the photograph.
    Tip: If you can see part of an object in the direction you want to take the photograph, then your camera can probably see it.
  2. Make sure it's safe to leave your phone / camera unattended.
    I tend to go places that are deserted, or I go places early in the morning, so "safe" for me means no one's around. If you're going to a place where people pass by frequently, you probably are better off asking someone to a photograph for you, or don't travel alone. Note that strangers probably won't adhere to the pedantry above.
  3. Ready, steady, go!
    Given you've set your phone / camera in timer, then tap it to focus on the spot, start the clock, then run! Just remember that to get a good shot you may have to do this multiple times, especially if the photograph should be taken mid-action, like a jump shot.
Here are some shots I'm quite happy with:

1 I find this to be a trap for myself to embrace pride; perhaps that's why I'm so against it

So, if you ask me to take a photo, I shall try to make it good; but if I ask you to take a picture, you now know how to please me 😊

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