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5 easy composition rules to improve your photography: #5 break the rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

― Pablo Picasso

Rule number 5… well it’s not really a rule at all.

Over the previous four weeks, we’ve looked at the rule of thirds, framing, filling the frame and embracing negative space, and while there are so many more ‘rules’ of photography that I could go on to talk about, I’m going to give you the most important rule of all…

don’t be afraid to break the rules

sometimes placing your subject dead in the middle of the frame works well…

and there will be moments when you don’t have time to frame your subjects – it’s more about capturing the moment and you need to think quick

there will be times when your foreground and background are an important part of the story of the image

and times when no matter where you move, there will be no negative space in your image, but it will still work

So there you have it – my top 5 rules to help you improve your photography!

now, it all comes down to practice

So pick up your camera whenever you can.  Practice on whatever willing, unwilling, stationary or moving subject you can find, and you will soon see an improvement in your photography.

And most important of all, have fun!

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Has this series of 5 easy composition rules to improve your photography helped to make you more confident in your own photography?  And what was your favourite rule to play with?

If you’ve enjoyed this series, please share it with a friend!

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my 5 favourite iphone photography apps

black and white photo of parsley flowers

hello, my name is Tasha and I’m a DSLR snob

I fought upgrading my bog-standard mobile phone for ages for this very reason. The camera’s in a mobile phone simply can’t be as good as my camera. Simply. Can’t.

Well, it turns out they can. Which in turn made me into a bit of a camera and editing phone app junkie there for a while.

And 18 months on, I’ve landed on my favourites. The apps I turn to whenever I pick up my phone to take photos… which is becoming more often.

just don’t tell my big camera I’m cheating on it

Camera+

Camera+ ($4.49) helps you use your iPhone to shoot the best photos you possibly can.  The app uses your existing phone camera but allows you more control over the settings.  While you are still able to take pictures in automatic mode, if you feel like you want more light and speed control, then you are able to independently change focus and metering points, allowing you to meter based on a different part of the scene and/or focus in a different area of the frame.

Camera+ is more than just a camera replacement, though, with advanced editing in exposure, brightness, contrast and saturation tools (to name just a few) letting you tweak your photos to your heart’s content.

VSCO

If I’m totally honest, it’s been a while since I’ve used VSCO (Free). For a long time, VSCO was my go-to for editing, with a great selection of image adjustment tools and quite a range of high-quality photographic filters (the app was originally developed for the serious photographer who was looking to emulate film).  They’ve upgraded the interface since I’ve used it last – it’s now very sleek and modern – but it’s still an app that I will go back to when the time calls.

Filmborn

Filmborn (Free) is my latest app acquisition….  I use Mastin Labs presets for all of my photo editing – both personal and professional – so adding Filmborn to my phone was a bit of a no-brainer.  Designed to give you a genuine film look in 3 steps or less, the app lets you take photos with your in-phone camera, then edit them without having to import photos like some of its counterparts.  I love that you are able to view the presets in real-time and the kicker (for me) change between three different focal length crops (31mm, 35mm, and 50mm).

Lenka

Lenka (Free) is a dedicated black-and-white app, developed by professionals, for both amateur and professional photographers alike.  The app is stripped down to the bare essentials. You can only use the rear-facing cameras, your picture mode options include normal and high-contrast, and you can choose to turn the flash bulb on or off for a source of continuous lighting in dark environments. No unnecessary controls, filters, colour… It forces you to focus on what matters most in photography – the light and your composition. Plus you get a real-time preview of what you are shooting.  Minimal, but a lot of fun.

Later

Later (Free-$US49/month) allows you to plan, schedule and publish your visual content.  Personally, I use the free version on both the desktop and iOS versions to schedule my photos for Instagram.  It has a lot more capabilities – with more to come – but being able to schedule my IG posts, particularly if I’ve used my DSLR to take the photos, is what makes this app a winner for me.

And a bonus hardware favourite for you as well.

Moment

I added a Moment ($US30-50) case to my phone about 6 months ago. After much research, I decided on this particular case as it is designed to mimic a “real” camera shutter release, with a two-stage camera button, which means you can lock focus and exposure with a half-press before pressing fully down to take a shot.  Originally launched as a Kickstarter campaign, the Moment app is more about the camera than editing.  The reason I love this case and app so much – I can hold my phone one-handed and take a photo using the shutter button.  Not having to try and tap the screen or use the volume button to release the shutter on the camera on the phone, means that I keep a steady hand each time I take a photo.

Whether you’re new to phone photography or looking for a new photography app to add to your collection, I hope this list has given you some ideas.  The key is to use just a handful of apps, but learn to use them to their full potential.  Regardless of what apps you use, though, to quote one of my favourite photographers  – “You can’t polish a turd.” – so always start out with the best image possible.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What are your favourite phone photography apps?

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2016: the year of the 85mm

Why I'm only using my Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens for all of 2016.

When we were in Melbourne, back in November last year, I bought myself the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens that I’d been lusting after for a little while…

and promptly put in my camera bag

Nearly 3 months later, and I’ve only taken two photos with it.  Two.  Mind you, I did exactly the same with my 50mm f/1.8 when I purchased it as well.

The first few times I tried to take photos with my 50, I just couldn’t nail the focus.  The photos were horrible – not sharp; focus was soft; horrible, horrible photos.  So I gave up and put the lens away in my camera bag for months.

Until 2015.  When I made the decision to use only my 50mm lens for all of that year.

To be fully transparent, I had to swap out my lenses from time to time, especially when I was doing photos for school events.  But all of my personal work was done with the nifty-fifty, and I can honestly say that I now  love that lens.

So this year I’m going to do exactly the same with my 85mm….

use only this lens for all of 2016

Learn it.  Learn its sweet spot.  Its peculiarities.  Its ticks and quirks.

and hopefully, learn to love it as much as I love my 50

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I'd like to learn the Cello

I’ve been wanting to learn how to play the Cello for years now.

Actually, I can pin point the exact song that prompted it…  the theme music to “Angel”, the television series.

Cello

And apart from the fact that I think David Boreanaz is pretty hot…  the music a cello can create is even hotter.

Sexy.

Sulty.

Emotive.

And something I want to learn.

What is stopping me?  (1)Finding a cello-teacher close enough to me and (2)the time to dedicate to learning it.

Poor excuses really, but I’ll get there one day.

What would you like to learn?  An instrument, a skill, a craft?  What is holding you back?

Share your story…

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