Amplify Your Photography Skills With Tips from Kent Wong
Pretty much everyone has a camera in their pockets these days with cell phones. We asked Master of Photographic Arts, Kent Wong, to provide some basic rules of thumb to take your photos from alright to excellent—whether you are using a professional camera, cellphone, or an old Polaroid.
This is both the orientation of the photo and taking photos of landscapes. "We have to keep in mind we're taking a three-dimensional world and representing it on two-dimensional media." Kent says. "Without something in your photo providing perspective, it is hard to convey the magnitude of what is in the photo." He suggests aiming to incorporate three elements: something in the foreground, midground, and background. Using an object of a known size, like a vehicle or a person, will help establish a size relationship or perspective relative to the landscape.
Kent also recommends looking for something to create a leading line which will draw your eye into the photo. For example, a head-on photo of a bridge does not provide a lot of perspective, only a lot of top and bottom space that doesn't add to the story. "You're better off going to one end of the bridge and shooting the photo on the diagonal. Then your static shot becomes very dynamic."
Don't throw shade at your subject! If the light is coming from behind the photographer, then there are no flattering shadows on the subject – that is called flat lighting. "Flat lighting doesn't lend itself to three dimensionalities. If possible, pick a time of day where you can see shadows on your landscape scene." If there are people in your landscape photo, Kent suggests trying to avoid having them looking into the sun and squinting.
Another faux pas to avoid with people is side lighting where one half of the person's face is lit, and the other half is in the dark. "If you have a built-in flash, turn it on and get as close to the people as you can to relieve dark shadows."
Most of the time, you will be focused on a person's facial expressions, so unless there's a good reason to include the lower half of their body, Kent suggest you don't. Getting closer will allow you to play with more angles and lighting options.
Aside from light and shadows from the sun, there are also three kinds of ambient lighting to consider that will influence the overall feel of the photograph. "Morning light will result in muted pastels that will have a calming influence on the photograph. Afternoon ambient light is very energetic and gives you the most accurate colour production. Evening light lends a very golden tone to complexion and everything will have a warm glow to it."
Imagining a grid of three vertical and three horizontal lines will help you divide up the content of your photo. "The biggest temptation, is to put the thing of interest in the middle then the eye wants to look above or below instead of the top or bottom third." Kent suggests trying to use what is known as the rule of thirds where you mentally divide the viewfinder into three vertical and three horizontal zones. Where those lines intersect, those become power points. "When you put your subject on one of those points, you get a much more pleasing composition."
Be on the lookout for other details. If there are people in your shot, look to see if their hair is in their eyes or out of place. "Look for anything that shouldn't be in the photo. It may mean you have to adjust your angle a little to the side or higher or lower to eliminate those distractions." As a professional photographer, Kent says there are a lot of things he will look for automatically. He reminds photo takers to spend a few extra seconds to make sure clothes are not bunched up and jewelry is in appropriate positions. "There are hundreds of little things I automatically look for after years of practice. It's worth it to make sure you're getting the best possible shot."
Kent Wong has worked with the Kelson Group for many years taking photos of our staff teams, exterior and interior building shots, and more. We rely on Kent to help us look as professional as we feel and appreciate his energy, professionalism, and talents. Thank you Kent for sharing your knowledge with us here to help our residents not only live better, but take better photos!