A snapshot is snapped quickly. But for really good shots, there are a few aspects to consider so that the subject is shown to its best advantage – for example the image section. We give you design tips.
By Sebastian Weber
If you pull out your camera or smartphone on vacation, at a birthday party or on a leisurely Sunday walk to capture a moment in a photo, there are a few tricks that will turn the picture into a real eye-catcher. We'll tell you here how you can perfect recordings before you press the shutter button and also in post-processing.
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Basic considerations before shooting
Before you take a picture, think about the effect you want your picture to have. Image: © Pexels/Bikesh Photographer 2022
Regardless of whether you look at the selected motif on the smartphone display or through the viewfinder of your camera , you can work on the composition of your picture before you take the picture.
- Portrait or landscape: As a rule of thumb, you should shoot landscapes in landscape format, while you should choose portrait format for portraits. But there are exceptions, for example if you want to take a landscape photo that has a lot of depth or if you want to photograph a person in a beautiful environment.
- Image format: Also think about which aspect ratio you want to set for your image. The iPhone camera app, for example, offers you square, i.e. the format 1:1, but also 4:3 and 16:9. Since most digital photos are viewed on screens, the 16:9 format is best, as it matches the aspect ratio of televisions, monitors, and smartphone displays.
- Zooming: If you zoom in on the selected motif with your camera before you shoot, this can save you post-processing later, since the focus is already correctly selected. Note, however, that there is a difference between optical and digital zoom. With the optical zoom, which SLR cameras with a corresponding lens and some modern smartphones such as the iPhone 13 have, the full resolution of the image is retained: the camera enlarges the subject using the objective lenses. With digital zoom, on the other hand, the recorded image is only enlarged, which affects the quality of the recording.
The Golden cut
In addition to the considerations mentioned, the golden section, also known as the rule of thirds, is the simplest design option for your photos. Most current cameras support you by showing the necessary grid on the display.
The grid divides the image into nine equal rectangles with four dividing lines and therefore four intersections. These intersections and lines help you to align your motif in an appealing way.
When taking photos, a placement in the center of the picture looks boring and unappealing. Accordingly, you should place the person or object you want to photograph on the respective guide lines or intersections. An example: If you photograph a landscape, do not place the horizon in the middle of the picture, but on the line between the lower and middle or middle and upper third. This ensures dynamics, depth or the right focus – depending on what message you want your photo to have.
The shell of the nautilus is an example of a naturally occurring golden spiral. Image: © Pexels/Pixabay 2022
The golden spiral is also based on the golden ratio. Here you mentally divide the photo several times in the golden section. The main subject should be at the center of the spiral, while all other elements are aligned towards the edge of the image using the spiraling line. The golden spiral is particularly harmonious because it occurs frequently in nature, for example in the shell of the nautilus shell or – on a larger scale – in spiral galaxies.
Getting the picture right is important
Even if you've followed all the tips up to this point, your photo can still look boring because you didn't depict the subject in a meaningful way.
Put what is important to you in the focus of your photography. Image: © Pexels/Vlada Karpovich 2022
When taking a picture, always think about what the message of the picture should be in order to choose the right picture detail. If you want to capture a child blowing out the candles on their birthday cake, get as close as possible with the camera or use the zoom. The dining room in the background isn't important to the story of your photo, it's distracting.
Photographs can be improved afterwards with image processing programs such as Adobe Photoshop , Adobe Lightroom and Luminar orone of the Photoshop alternatives, some of which are free .
With such tools you straighten photos if you accidentally photographed crooked. You can also use the help lines to adjust and crop your image so that it corresponds to the golden ratio.
In post-processing, you can also change the image section to bring your subject into focus. Image: © Pexels/Bess Hamiti 2022
Many shots can be saved or improved thanks to post-processing by cutting out unnecessary details or background objects so that the main subject comes into its own.
For some images, it is also useful to convert them from portrait to landscape or vice versa. Experiment and let the results work on you.
However, post-processing is the same as with digital zoom: If you zoom in on a photo to bring the subject more into focus, the quality of the recording suffers because the available image information is only extrapolated. In such a case, you should rather choose a smaller image format than the source file has.
- Before you take a photo, you can work on the composition of the image with a few considerations and settings.
- Auxiliary lines help you orientate yourself on the golden ratio and take harmonious photos.
- With image editing programs, you can edit images digitally and optimize them in a variety of ways.