Members weekly photo themes
Each week, for members of the Smartphone Photography Training community I host a new photo theme in our Facebook group. This is an opportunity to practise the techniques and skills learned in the course 'Strategically edit WOW images on your smartphone using Snapseed.'
Everyone is encouraged to share their images, shooting and editing techniques, tips and favourite apps. I am inspired each week by the variety of interpretations of the theme and amazing images shared.
Unlike most photography courses - our community is a great way for me to stay in touch with you, continue your learning and be surrounded by an amazing group of supporting photo enthusiasts.
This is the most fun part of my business - checking in every day to see everyone's progress and the amazing community we are building.
See more weekly photo theme results below this example weekly write up
Example of the weekly collage and write up.
I typically share techniques and tips related to the topic and introduce the new theme.
Congratulations to Robin, Andrew and Benny for winning this weeks #PeoplesChoice.
This weeks theme Clouds received images ranging from red and orange clouds that resemble fire to the extreme opposite blue skies with white fluffy clouds. So many lovely water reflections and a couple of long exposure effect images.
Robin’s image at AAMI stadium is a stunner. The crop provides the context of where you are and makes this a sunset that you will remember in time when you look back at the image.
Andrew’s image is quite an impactful HDR style edit. The foreground element and shoreline provide lovely depth and draw you into the image to the sunset
Benny’s clouds behind the isolated trees are especially impressive when you see the before image. WOW.
Special mention also to Daniel and that sky on fire! and the details you achieved in those flowers.
Also a special mention to Lisa and the pink cloud reflection in the shallows and rocks and seagulls.
Lastly, another special mention to Elizabeth and the sunrise over Corio Bay at the Geelong Waterfront. You can see I have a bias to reflections in water images.
Tips for last week:
As simple as clouds may seem to be to capture and edit. I have quite a few tips to share!
Capturing the image:
- Consider filling at least two thirds of the image with the sky, to communicate to the viewer that the majority of the image is about the sky. The more the better - however, keep the horizon in the image for perspective and context
- Tap the screen on the smartphone then swipe to access the brightness slider (exposure compensation) Intentionally make the image a little darker to retain the details in the bright clouds. If the clouds are pure white - you can only darken them to grey! This is referred to blown-out or clipping when you no details in the bright parts of the image.
- Turn on HDR or have it on Auto. The smartphone will capture at least three images that correctly balances the light in the bright areas of the scene, then another for the shadows and one in-between. Then it cleverly combines the best of each image to produce one image. Welcome to computational photography! Smart HDR is even better!
- In the majority of cases, the most popular cloud photos are captured in the golden hours - an hour after sunrise and before sunset. The sun produces a warm glow and the clouds can produce some lovely colours and textures.
- If you have an Android smartphone - you can enter the manual Pro mode and select a white balance preset. When you capture an image the camera does a great job balancing colour and automatically correctly colour casts. Some smartphones at sunset will balance all those wonderful colours by adding blue, thus muting the image. This can be avoided by selecting the ‘cloud’ or ‘shady’ presets to preserve the warm golden/orange tones.
Editing the image:
- If you need to remove power lines from the sky or a stray cloud that just doesn’t add anything the image - check out the line removal and cloning tool in Touch Retouch app by Adva-Soft. When using the cloning tool - you need to pick a reference location in the image to replace the cloud. Select an adjacent location that is the same height in the sky - as it tends to be a gradient. A blue sky will typically transition from a light blue at the horizon to a darker blue at the top of the image. If you do not clone from the correct location - the replaced sky may be a different tone and look a little blotchy (technical term!)
- The first thing you should in editing a sky is to reduce the ‘highlights’ to reveal the interesting details in the clouds. In Snapseed, go to Tools > Tune Image > Highlights, then swipe left to reduce the bright areas of the image Add some more clarity and vibrance to the cloud. In Snapseed, go to Tools > Tune Image > Ambience and swipe right. Don’t go too far, as you will start to add that speckled grainy look to the image.
- When you edit an image and include sharpening (which you should on any image) - try to avoid sharpening the sky. If using Snapseed- you can use the stacks option to selectively apply where to add details and where to leave the image untouched. This process is called masking.
- If the sky looks a little grainy and blotchy - in Snapseed, go to Tools > Details. Next swipe left to enter a negative structure value. This creates a nice smoothing effect. Too far and you will lose any detail in the cloud. Again, use the stacks feature to selectively apply the smoothing to just the sky.
- Add drama to the image in Snapseed > Tools > Drama. There are a few presets to choose from and the ability to adjust the strength of the filter and colour saturation (intensity)
This weeks theme will be Square Crop.
After Benny’s People’s Choice winning image was a square crop. Let’s see more of them.
Tips this week:
The square can provide a challenge for composition. It is an opportunity for minimalistic and symmetrical images.
On the iPhone – you have the option to capture a square image as a capture mode. Most Android smartphones have multiple aspect ratios available in the settings.
When you either capture or edit a photo in a square aspect ratio 1:1 – the rule of thirds stills applies. However, the lines closer to the middle are not really that far off-centre. I recommend imagining the interesting lines further out. This creates more space that is normally a bit of a struggle in a square image.
You will find a graphic and further explanation in my article on rule of thirds article - https://smartphonephotographytraining.com/capturing-photos/composition/rule-of-thirds/
Be passionate, be creative and keep learning.