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  See the previous weekly photo theme winners

Welcome to the amazing place that is all about your images!

It was so exciting creating this section to store all the previous weekly theme collages. To see the progress of some of you and the engagement in our Facebook community is just a joy to watch and be a part of. Thank you so much for sharing your images with the rest of us.

Keep up the incredible work!

If you have a theme idea, please leave a comment.


Some of the most recent topics covered below include:

Focus, Silhouette, Dutch Angle, Colour on Black, Street Photography, Square Crop, Clouds, Autumn, Colours, Birds, Water, Pets, Beginning with T, Emotions, Shades of Yellow, Details, Windows, Framed, White, Rustic, XMas Decorations and Shapes.


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Tips for this week:


Holding your phone closer to the subject and having a distant background can create background blur to bring just your subject into focus.

Cropping in tight onto your subject and carefully selecting which parts of the existing background to keep in the crop can make your subject more obvious.

Remove distracting elements in the background, using a content removal app like Retouch (Android and iOS) or the Healing tool in Snapseed.

Darken and de-saturate the surrounding content of the main subject to take the attention away from that and back onto the main subject.

Blur the background using the Blur tool in Snapseed or my favourite app After Focus (Android and iOS). Below is a YouTube video where I show you how to use After Focus.

https://youtu.be/Xc2lBzIL0_8

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Tips for this week

Silhouette images can be very powerful at communicating a strong subject/story and a fantastic way to experiment shooting a different technique and extending your photo editing capabilities. It is one of my go to techniques, when I find myself in a creative rut and find myself photographing the same thing over and over!

Silhouettes convey mystery, drama and can make a strong emotional connection - because it breaks the image down into a simple, distraction free story that is easy for us viewers to interpret. The absence of detail, allows our imagination to jump in and transport ourselves to that moment or location.

Smartphone Specific Tips:

1. Tap the screen on the brightest part of the image and swipe down on iPhones or to the left on some Android smartphones to further enhance the silhouette.

2. If the outside of the subject is blurry and you do not have that crisp edge - tap and hold your finger on the subject for two seconds. When AE/AF flashes and remains - then swipe down. 

3. Some Androids may not have an exposure slider or have the feature disabled when focus tracking is turned on in the settings or using Pro mode. If you do not have an exposure slider - go into advanced settings and adjust the ISO to achieve the desired look

4. Some Android smartphones have manual metering modes. These select what sections of the scene to balance the light and dark areas. Select spot metering and tap on the brightest part of the image to make the subject darker

5. Capture movement images by using the burst mode or Live Photos to go back and select your perfectly timed image. 

6. If you taking a photo in close - you may need to turn off your flash to avoid it brightening your subject.

Subject Choice

7. Locate a subject that has strong, instantly recognisable shape and lines

8. When trying to identify subject opportunities - concentrate on the outline of subjects

9. Silhouette images do not need to be completely black. Darkening the subject to remove just enough detail, can still create mystery and direct the viewer’s attention

10. Photos of people jumping can look stunning as a silhouette. Get down low to make it look like a higher jump and use burst or Live Photo to capture the best posture and timings

11. People holding hands looks better as a silhouette if you have them stand further apart to create more speeration and the extended arms stand out more.

Location 

12. The background needs to be brighter than the subject

13. Silhouette photos can also be captured indoors - in front of a bright window or artificial light

14. Locate a subject and background - where the subject can be isolated and have space around them

15. Photos taken from a low angle are not only more interesting as a quick technique - it will also help isolate the subject, by including more bright sky 

16. Shooting early in the morning or late afternoon (golden hour) makes it easier to position the sun behind the subject.

17. Hide the sun behind your subject

18. When you darken an image - the shapes and lines (textures) of clouds become more evident. Soft, sweeping clouds can look amazing, contrasted against a sharp, strong silhouette

19. Having the edge of the sun, poke out on the edge of the subject can create really aesthetically pleasing sun flare.

Photo Editing

20. Converting a normal photo into a silhouette, can be a fantastic way of recovering a bad photo. You may have a really distracting element in the photo or awkward facial expression that detracts from an otherwise great image. The basic principles of a silhouette outlined above still apply to create a great silhouette.

21, Darkening the shadows will darken the subject further. It will however, adjust the whole image darkening any shadows in the background also

22. Selectively darken the subject further using Snapseed app. 

- Selective Tool > add a pin to the subject > pinch and zoom to increase/decrease the selection size > swipe up and down to Brightness > swipe left to darken

- Brush Tool > select Dodge and Burn > Tap the down arrow to decrease the number to -5 or -10 > finger paint over the subject. Too much or you go over the lines - change the number to 0, becomes an eraser. Tap on the Mask icon to see where you have been selecting.

23. One thing I love about silhouettes is the contrast and sharp outlines. This can be enhanced by using Details in Snapseed or the Tonal Contrast filter

24. When you are emphasising shapes and lines in this type of image - a crooked image or warped walls (lens distortion) can become more evident. I like to straighten my images in Snapseed using Perspective - not Rotate. To correct any lens distortion, I try Free mode in Perspective within Snapseed. If that does not work, my go-to app is SKRWT.

25. Adding a little extra warmth to a silhouette captured in the ‘golden hour’ when the light already has an orange colour cast - can really add to the mood of a silhouette. Access this in the White Balance or Colour Cast in your favourite photo editor. One direction will turn blue and the other orange.

26. Enhancing colours can make a silhouette really jump off the screen. Most photo editing apps have a Saturation slider. In Snapseed, go to Tools > Tune Image > Adjust > Saturation

27. Add a sun flare on the edge of the subject. Picsart or Lens Flare (iOS) are two great apps

28. Remove distracting elements in the silhouette by using Retouch app. Open image > Quick Repair > swipe over the object. For more precise removal - use the Clone Stamp.

29. Converting to black and white can create a real emphasis on the silhouette. Snapseed have a built in Look (iOS) or Style (Android) named ‘Silhouette’ 

30. Get inspired by checking out https://www.instagram.com/silhouette_creative/

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Tips last week:

Dutch Angle also known as Dutch Tilt, German Angle, Canted Angle or Oblique Angle.

A very non-traditional compositional technique is making the horizon or vertical lines ‘intentionally’ angled. The easiest way to achieve this is to hold your phone on an angle as you shoot. Tilt the phone from side to side – not the top edge of the phone back or forth).

This technique is very commonly used in cinematography for dramatic effect and helps portray movement, energy, unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action. The photography genre that really benefits from this technique is street photography.

HOW?

Using Snapseed, avoid using the Rotate tool. It will crop too much out of the image. Instead, use the Rotate tool within the Perspective tool/ Using the Smart fill mode will copy sections inside the frame and add it to extra sections added to the image to minimise how much is cropped during the rotation. It is much easier to experiment inside the free Snapseed app.

WHICH WAY AND HOW MUCH?

- Make sure that the angle is sufficient to look deliberate and not just shot crooked

- The more the angle the more movement and unease is introduced

- Angling the image in the direction of the natural flow of the content introduces movement

- Angling against the flow of the content introduces more unease

- If you have applied the rule of thirds guideline then tilting toward the majority two-thirds of the image is more natural

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This weeks tips:

There are several ways to create a black background. Some smartphones even have a mode that darkens the background. For example, stage lighting in portrait mode on the iPhone.

A shooting technique to create a black background is to have a black object, cardboard behind the subject or a dark distant background. You can then use an external light to over brighten the subject, tap on the screen and swipe to reduce the overall brightness bring the subject back to normal light.

Editing techniques include darkening the black background using Brush tool or the Selective tool in Snapseed. The other option is a little more advanced is using the very powerful Curves tool in Snapseed. Once open drag the black and white points to the bottom right corner to convert the whole image to black. Then tap the History icon to access View Edits select Curves and tap on the brush. Next swipe at 100 per cent over the background that you want completely black. I cover this in much more detail in the mobile photo editing course https://courses.smartphonephotographytraining.com/p/snapsee…

I have attached an image of the two editing techniques mentioned above.

The more vibrant the colours, the more they will stand out and jump off the screen against a black background. You can achieve this using the Ambience slider in Snapseed or Vibrance in Adobe Lightroom Mobile in the Colour panel.

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Street photography can range from people, culture (e.g. graffiti) images to people in urban settings, Street photography – can be a little intimidating and out of your comfort zone. The below article will provide some starting points… https://smartphonephotographytraining.com/tips/street-art-photography-tips/

Topics covered in the above article are:


> Why capture street art on your smartphone?


> Planning a street art photography shoot

> Street art photo capturing techniques

> Story telling


> Smartphone accessories

> Graffiti photo editing tips to make the art pop

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Tips this week:

Capture a square photo on either iPhone or Android

Square mode is helpful for some images like a round plate of food

The gridlines will change positions for both landscape and square

Let’s first explore what the gridlines are there for….

The gridlines are available on your smartphone to assist employ the rule of thirds. This compositional process of places two equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines across the photo – thus creating nine squares.

The lines are there to encourage us to align our main subject on one of these lines. The ideal position is actually atop of one of the four points where two lines intersect – placing the subject off-centre.

When you position the main subject in the centre of the photo – it becomes static. The viewer’s attention goes straight to the centre of the photo and gets stuck there. Imagine now, a photo of a subject positioned on the left side of the photo. The subject can still remain the dominant object in the photo, through the use of size, lighting, colour and sharpness. By positioning the subject to the left, the viewer is encouraged to then further explore the remaining photo. This is where you can position supporting subjects and/or background to support the context and narrative to the photo.

In a square image, the four intersecting points become a lot closer. Thus, the principle of the rule of thirds is no longer as effective. I would suggest placing the subject closer to the edge to provide the space.

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Tips for this 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 form 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 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)

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