Gillian Allard is a professional photographer and workshop leader and winner of Sky Arts Master of Photography 2017.
A DRONE IN MY HOME
A MOBILE PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY CHALLENGE
I looked up the definition of the word ‘drone’ and was quite surprised by the number of meanings. None was very positive; distant and monotonous noise, employees that serve no useful purpose – the one exception was bees : ) and, of course, Drone Photography.
We are all very familiar with this style of aerial photography that refers to snapping the world from way above, with the lens pointing directly below – this camera angle can transform even the most ordinary landscape into a fascinating alternative composition.
To keep myself amused in these troubled times and block out the drone of my daily thoughts, I had a go at taking a range of photos around my home, using this alternative ‘bird’s eye view’ – trying to picture the world within my four, very familiar, walls in a new way and I have to say I found it rather absorbing.
This week’s activity is to do just that – take photographs around your home from this ‘bird’s eye view’. Knowing your home inside out, you will be aware of when the sun falls on a much-loved chair, casting shadows, or moments in the garden when the light shifts, bringing certain things to life; bear this in mind when you’re thinking about what to photograph and when to take them.
This activity requires a mobile phone; it’s the phone’s camera that you’ll be using. It’s easy to use, enables you to be quite spontaneous in the images you take and will also enable you to send them on to me – more of which later.
Photo Grids (see below) are a great way of viewing a range of photos on a particular topic because they create a kind of visual diary. I am hoping that you will take a variety of images, such as pets, the garden, a shed etc. and then send them to me and I will create a photo grid for you from your photographs.
I’ll need a minimum of 10 images, which you can either text or email to the contact details below. Please sent them in by FRIDAY 15th MAY. I will create a unique grid of your images, which will be posted on to this blog site (so please make sure you don’t send in anything you wouldn’t want to share publicly). We will also print out a paper copy of your grid and post it back to you, to keep as a memento.
So, let’s get started!…….
PART ONE: TAKING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS – THINGS TO CONSIDER
LIGHTING: The key component to making a photograph look more ‘alive’ is, of course, light; in fact, the word photography is derived from the Greek language meaning ‘drawing with light’. So, with this in mind, try and use the light in your home to your advantage – look for those bright patches of daylight that bring out the detail in your surroundings. Later on, we will look at your phone’s basic editing tools (adjustments) that will help tweak your photos and improve the detail or enhance less favourable lighting conditions.
CAMERA ANGLE: Hold your phone so the camera lens is pointing directly down at the subject below. Sometimes you will get your feet in, but that can look amusing : ).
COMPOSING YOUR PHOTO: A photo should include a main subject or point of interest. This focal point gives your photo meaning and offers the viewer a place for their eye to rest. Try to fill the frame and avoid any unwanted background, this is where zooming in a little can come into its own (see photo below on the right).
FOCUSING: Just before you snap, tap the phone screen, to properly focus your image. Then SNAP!
OPTIONAL: If you have the setting to make your photo a SQUARE shape (see middle photo below), that will help when I am making your grid (so select before you take each photo). If not, don’t worry, rectangles are OK, too!!
PART TWO – EDITING YOUR PHOTOS BEFORE YOU SEND THEM TO SUFFOLK ARTLINK
EDITING: This is optional, but you might enjoy it. Editing your phone photos means using the in-phone tools to enhance and improve the appearance of your photos and get a little creative. It is not something to fear.
First, tap your Photos (library) or Gallery icon on your main screen to open all your photos and then select a specific image by tapping it. The image will fill the screen.
Once your image is open, tap EDIT. There are two key parts to editing; if you are unsure, choose a couple of practice images to play around with.
Adjustments: Adjustment tools (see below) help enhance and improve any lighting issues (e.g. brightness, contrast, etc.). However, most phones have a Magic Wand tool that you can tap to automatically enhance your photo as a starting point (see below).
Filters: These can completely alter the mood of your photo and give you the opportunity to experiment (see below).
REMEMBER, YOU CAN ALWAYS PRESS CANCEL OR REVERT TO GO BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL IMAGE.
In the illustration below you can see the edit screens for an iPhone.
Below, I’ve included a couple of links for extra tips, one fore editing using Android, and the other for editing on an iPhone.
Link for Android e.g. Samsung, Huawei:
Link for iPhone:-
I decided to give my photos a more uniform appearance by changing them all to black and white. I did this by tapping on FILTERS (3 crossing circles), scrolling right for black and white options and then fine-tuning my image by increasing the contrast in ADJUSTMENTS.
FURTHER EDITING IDEAS TO EXPLORE (optional): If you are familiar with your phone camera and editing, you may want to try uploading free apps for Android or Smartphones. Two popular apps are Pixlr or Snapseed. They will offer you a wider range of filters, borders and adjustment tool to experiment with – enjoy!
PIXLR APP INFORMATION: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/snapseed/id439438619
SNAPSEED APP INFORMATION: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pixlr.express&hl=en_GB
I used a combination of my phone’s adjustment tools to enhance my photos, then played around with Pixlr, using the filter and border options.
That’s it – I hope you enjoy taking your photos. When you’re ready to send them in, you can email or text them to the contact details below. You may want to use We Transfer to send all the images at once, or you can send them in small batches and we’ll create a folder for you.
Finally, if you would like to receive a printed copy of this guide, please contact us, and we’ll post one out to you.