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November 01, 2018
Believe it or not, many of our original and best selling photo jewelry designs use photos taken with my old “camera” … or, should I say … my old PHONE. Yup, our photography company was founded using my iPhone landscape photos.
Since these early days, I've dug waaaaay deeper into photography and advanced my technical and compositional skills (and spent a decent chunk of change) … but I always come back to my phone. They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and we ALWAYS have our phones. I use it to scout locations and line up compositions before my “real” camera ever makes it out of the bag. I still love taking pics with the phone, although my subject matter has shifted considerably this past year from breathtaking landscapes to our attention-taking 1 year son.
Lets talk about things YOU can do to improve your landscape PHONE-ography.
Rule of thirds
Imagine your screen was divided into 3rds by a grid. Actually, don’t imagine. Go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid and turn it on (for iPhones) …. now you have an actual grid on your screen. The rule of thirds suggests your main subject should NOT be in the center of the grid, but aligned with the lines dividing the screen in thirds. Pictures that follow the rule of thirds tend to be more dynamic, allowing your subject (tree, rock, waves, mountain, etc) to interact with the environment, and most importantly allowing your eyes to actively move through your photo.
Additionally, this tends to create a pleasing alignment of objects in space.. When a subject is aligned in the center of the photo, your eyes go straight to it …. and stay there - these photos tend to be static and arguably boring in comparison. In general, what makes a great landscape photo engaging is how your eyes actively flow through the image. The rule of thirds is a great place to start when trying to take a dynamic landscape shot.
One great way to practice your rule of thirds is to pick a foreground element. This element is likely to become your subject and everything surrounding it is the “supporting cast.” A big rock in a mountain stream, a coastal tide pool, a dead log in a forest, colorful leaves on a hiking trail, or a small waterfall in the jungle. Now think about this scene in thirds - a foreground, midground, and background. A foreground will typically be closer to the camera, in the lower left or right third of the frame.
A leading line is an element of a shot that guides the viewer’s eye. The “lines” can be made by a river, lines in rocks, a pier, a road, a shadow, reflections of light, a mountain trail …. anything! The leading lines can be straight through a photo, but often a diagonal line is a more exciting scene to observe. Many landscape photographers would consider an “S” curve to be the holy grail of leading lines. For example, if a river starts in the bottom left of your frame and heads up to the right, and then back to the left, and then back to the top right …. this creates an “S” shape that is visually attractive!
To make the most impact with your leading line, have the line, well … lead to something in the background. For example: a shot down the beach that winds to a sunset, a mountain trail that leads to a person, etc.
To put everything we’ve talked about together …. Photograph a foreground subject in your bottom left third, have your leading line lead to a background element in your top right third -- MAGIC!
If everything above seems too complicated, or you are presented with a sparse scene that lacks a clear foreground or leading line, then keep it minimalist! Do you have beautiful sky but not much else? Let that sky fill most of your frame, and include a little bit of foreground (small strip of beach, top of mountain range) for scale and context. Are you in a field with a wild animal on the horizon? Position that animal on one of your thirds lines and keep everything else very simple and sparse. There’s something contemplative, pleasing, and even abstract about using open space in your photos.
Now it's your turn. Are you ready to Foterra? You can make your own custom jewelry using your very own photographs!
Post by Foterra House Fotographer Josh
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