Snap Me Happy is a series featuring tips on how to take great photographs with an iPhone.
So tell me – did anybody do their Snap Me Happy homework from my last post? (Grace, I’m looking at you!)
In this second part of my Snap Me Happy series, I want to talk about – The Grid. (Sounds a bit like a Hollywood action movie.)
If the grid on your iPhone is turned off, turn it back on now. Seriously, the grid can revolutionise your photos. Don’t just use it – embrace it! That’s right, give your phone a mini hug right now. Now try doing that and taking a photo of yourself at the same time. Just kidding.
If you surveyed a small group of people, chances are they all use the grid in different ways and for different purposes.
Here is my number one reason for embracing the grid: to create lines in my photographs that are either parallel to the bottom of the photo or the side of the photo (or both).
What on earth are you going on about Ronnie?
Hear me out.
Take a look inside a home interiors magazine. Have you ever noticed that the ceiling or the floor usually runs horizontally across the page (rather than being sloped)? Or that vertical floor lamps and pillars usually stand up straight (rather than at an angle)?
There’s a reason for this: It looks good.
There’s another reason for this: It looks GOOD.
So good in fact that I suspect our brain takes those horizontal and vertical lines for granted when we look at professional photos like the ones in magazines, but strangely enough, I don’t think it’s how we instinctively take photographs ourselves.
This is where the grid helps. When taking photos…
Try to align the things that should be vertical in your photo to the vertical lines of the grid (e.g. the side of a door frame, the legs of a table, the side of the couch, the candleholders on the table). In the photo below, the sides of the chalkboard decal are vertical, ie. they are parallel to the sides of the photo.
Similarly, try to align the things that should be horizontal in your photo to the horizontal lines of the grid (e.g. the horizon, the edge of the table, the skirting board). In the photo below, the line where the splash back meets the bench top is horizontal, ie. it is parallel to the top and bottom of the photo.
An even trickier thing to do is to try and get perpendicular lines in your photo that are in turn parallel to the side and bottom of the photo respectively. In the photo below, the sides of the frame are (more or less) parallel to the sides of the photo and perpendicular to each other.
The key to all this is to hold your camera/phone straight – on both planes. By that I mean: it shouldn’t be rotated to the left or to the right, and it shouldn’t be pointing slightly up or slightly down.
- If you’re taking a portrait photo, the bottom edge of your iPhone should be parallel to the floor, whilst the front (and back) of the iPhone should be parallel to the wall.
- If you’re taking a landscape photo, the side edge of your iPhone should be parallel to the floor, whilst the front (and back) should be parallel to the wall.
(Chances are your hand won’t be steady enough to get those lines right the first time, so I suggest taking multiple shots to get the right one.)
Naturally there are exceptions to the rule. Here are a few that I can think of:
1) When your photo has no lines running in it whatsoever, you can disregard the grid altogether (e.g. close-up portrait shots, macro still life shots.)
2) When you specifically don’t want to have perpendicular lines in your photo, because you’re hoping to achieve a more artistic shot.
3) When you’re photographing a particular object at an angle, which makes it impossible to capture both vertical and horizontal lines.
Ultimately, it’s up to you the photographer to decide when it’s appropriate to capture those vertical and horizontal lines in your photo.
And remember – the more you do it, the easier it gets.
(And there’s always the straightening tool.)
How do you use the grid when you take photos on your iPhone?
* * *
If you should feel so inclined, here’s some homework for you (yay!):
1) Take three interior shots incorporating vertical and/or horizontal lines.
2) Take three outdoor shots incorporating vertical and/or horizontal lines.
3) Take at least one photo anywhere that shows both vertical and horizontal lines.
If you have Instagram, upload your shots with the hashtag #snapmehappy and also leave your username below so we can all follow each other and see how we’re progressing (mine is @pinkronnie).
* * *
For more tips on how to take great photographs with an iPhone, you can read all the Snap Me Happy posts here.