How to take better cell phone pictures - Tip #2

Extreme Composition / Negative Space

First, I want to say thank you to all the people who sent me their photos using leading lines from tip#1!  I saw a lot of really interesting shots!  Keep them coming.

Staying with the compositional theme of the first post I wanted to challenge you to use a technique I call Extreme Composition.  It is actually really easy to do. Unfortunately though I have found that people either love it or they hate it.  That being said, it is one of my favorite things to do in the right situation. 

The idea behind using negative space is that often we focus our attention on the subject too much.  By doing that we often neglect the negative space.  Ultimately you are trying to tell a story in every photograph.  The negative space can often help you tell or leave out specific parts of that story.  

I would say these example photographs are using extreme composition to exaggerate the negative space.  This draws the eye to the subject even more.  An interesting effect is you can at times confuse the viewer of size, scale, and even location of the subject.  It's a fun little tool to have in your bag, I find myself doing it all the time.  

Go out and try some extreme compositions yourself and make sure to share them with me on instagram with the hashtag #abiphotochallenge

I would love to see some of your images using this technique.  You can e-mail them to me at aj@ajbrownimaging, use #abiphotochallenge on instagram, or just leave a comment with them in the comment section.  

I'll share my favorite image on this blog and the AJ Brown Imaging Facebook page.  

How to take better cell phone pictures - Tip #1

Let's be honest, photography is extremely popular these days.  With virtually everyone carrying their phone/camera in their pocket everywhere they go much more images are being made on a daily basis.

I am starting a little blog series to give out simple cell phone photography tips that are extremely easy to implement.

Our cell phone cameras do limit creativity compared to DSLRs because they do not allow for us to make decisions about depth of field and have very limited exposure options.  Because of that, we are forced to be more creative in our composition to make our cellphone images better.  Most of these tips are based on composition, but I will get into other subjects further down the road.  This is exciting to me because composing the photo is my favorite part of the entire process.  Creative challenges will only make us better, so bring it on aperatureless cellphone!!!

Use Leading Lines
#abiphotochallenge if your on instagram 

One thing that can make an image great is the depth that can be created.  Like I mentioned before, depth of field is not something we can control at this point with our cellphones.  So how can we create a 3D feel in a 2D medium without an aperture to assist us?  One of the easiest ways to do this is to utilize natural leading lines in a scene.

I start with leading lines because, well honestly, it is my favorite technique.  Shapes and lines in pictures are what inspired me to pursue photography as a career.  Leading lines are everywhere, we just have to learn to see them.  The image above has great depth for several reasons.  The first of course is the road has a grass line right down the middle leading us deep into the woods. The second is the simple fact that it is a road.  Naturally our subconscious will take our eyes down that road because we spend so much time in cars doing that exact thing.  That in reality is a totally flat picture on a flat computer screen, but it looks really deep because of the lines.

The same goes for the image below.

One of the challenges of seeing leading lines is the fact that they aren't always there.  When composing the image below I had to wait all day for those lines to show up.  Our first morning on vacation a couple years ago I woke up and had coffee on the porch, looking at the line of trees close to the water I new there would be some amazing shadows and lines if I came back and made a picture just before sunset.  I was right and created this image which is one of my favorite cell phone shots I have ever taken.  These leading lines once again create depth, and in this case also mood because of the time of day. 

 Leading lines also give you control over the viewer eyes.  This sounds crazy but it's true.  When looking at the image below I would put money on the fact the your eye started at the bottom right of the frame, moved up and then back down ending at the bottom left.  I made your eyes do that with the very specific composition that I chose.  This image is the most obvious example I could find to illustrate this control but this fact is very true of many great images.

So no more boring flat photos!  Go out there and use the leading lines to create interest and depth. 
I would love to see some of your images using this tecnique!  You can e-mail them to me at aj@ajbrownimaging or just leave a comment with them in the comment section.  

I'll share my favorite image on this blog and the AJ Brown Imaging Facebook page.