Finding beauty in unlikely places through photography

Huawei Philippines

Posted at Dec 12 2017 03:13 PM

People often think that they need to travel to picturesque places in the city or out-of-town to capture the best photographs.

But in reality, photographers can capture gorgeous photos even in places they go to everyday, with or without using a DSLR, provided they take into consideration the basic elements of photography.

For starters, these include lighting, composition, details, perspective, background, and foreground, among other things.

Playing with these elements can actually make traffic situations look pretty instead of headache-inducing, crowded places look intriguing instead of exhausting, and dark hallways look dramatic instead of scary.

Take a look at these unsightly places and awful situations, which turned into picture-perfect moments using a cameraphone, combined with a bit of pro-photography techniques.

1. Streaks of light during rush hour

Vehicles move along Roxas Boulevard during rush hour in Manila. Camera mode: Night shot
Tail lights create glowing streaks as vehicles pass by Roxas Boulevard during rush hour. Camera mode: Light painting

Ask anyone who has gone to EDSA or anywhere in Metro Manila, and they will most likely have a horror story about the heavy traffic, and how it caused people to lose their heads.

However, using the long exposure technique people can capture mesmerizing photos of moving vehicles that remind them that even in the most frustrating situations they can find something to smile about--if only so they won't lose their tempers and go into a rage.

In low-light situations, or during the evening, photos taken using the long exposure technique (or by holding the shutter open for longer than usual) can offer interesting shots. Moving lighted objects can be shown as streaks of light, in contrast with non-moving lighted objects that remain as they are.

2. 'Mirror' images using everyday reflective surfaces

A mural painting as reflected off a heavily tinted car window at a carpark in Intramuros, Manila. Camera mode: Pro-photo, manually adjusted ISO and aperture settings

It's easy to snap photos at any time, and any place, especially if you own a smartphone. However, it takes a bit more effort to level up photos to look more professional.

One thing that can be done is to consider looking at subjects from unique perspectives, or playing them against a nearby reflective surface. A plain frontal shot of a mural painting can turn into something more expressive when taken with its reflection.

3. Unleashing the bokeh effect

A woman in red sits on a bench in front of the Manila Cathedral. Camera mode: Wide aperture

The best way to highlight a subject against a backdrop is to use the bokeh effect. It blurs things that are not part of the main story you want to tell, and also lets your subject stand out.

Bokeh, which dictionary Merriam-Webster defines as "the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken with a narrow depth of field," can help photographers focus attention where they want.

4. Framing objects with shapes

The Manila Central Post Office building as seen from the Calvo Building in Escolta, Binondo. Camera mode: Pro-photo, manually adjusted ISO and aperture settings

Another technique to highlight a subject is to use shapes and patterns to frame a subject. There is no need to lug around a frame, because photographers can use anything they can find, such as the loops in a metal gate, holes in cement blocks, or even metal pipes.

The shape, which is blurred in the foreground of the photo, can draw the eye to the gap where the subjects are in focus.

5. Taking advantage of colors

A man in corporate attire passes by a cart of bananas while strolling along Ongpin Street in Binondo, Manila. Camera mode: Wide aperture

Photographers can make places or subjects feel more alive with colors that pop out at the viewer.

Colors are good elements to consider, especially when you want to achieve a certain feel within a photo, because colors can evoke different emotions.

Striking colors also highlight subjects against pale backgrounds. So always keep an eye for unique tones and hues.

6. Still life through the lens

Two women struggle to walk in Ongpin Street in Binondo carrying items bought at a nearby shop. Camera mode: Pro-photo, manually adjusted ISO and aperture settings

Photos of empty spaces can be nothing, or everything, depending on the viewer. However, it can be best to remember to look for stories--especially of people-- that can be immortalized with a shot.

While it may take a while before you get the perfect shot, it can very much be worth it.

7. Experimenting with lighting

A man who works as a family driver leans on the Calvo Building gate in Escolta while killing time. Camera mode: Pro-photo, manually adjusted ISO and aperture settings

Harsh lighting can be a photographer's enemy, but can be tamed to make a great photo. Just try to spot an angle where it can be best used. Sometimes, the contrast makes for dramatic photos not possible with well-lighted settings.

While great shots can be achieved using DSLR cameras, these can be bulky and heavy, and difficult to wield, especially when going to crowded places.

A great weapon for budding photographers, and even experienced ones, is a reliable cameraphone with the versatility and functions that can keep up with demanding users.

An excellent option is the Huawei Nova 2i, which can help users capture amazing shots rivaling those taken using pro cameras with its advanced camera technology, and functions designed for power users.

This new smartphone offers front and back dual lens cameras with combined 16MP and 2MP lenses in the rear-facing camera.

It is capable of taking photos with bokeh effect to capture depth of field, which are totally adjustable in post-production.

The Huawei Nova 2i also features a pro-photo option for users who want to explore other techniques in photography. Users can fiddle with the settings, just like how they can with DSLR functions.

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