Breaking The Norm!

 
It is not always necessary to choose a white balance setting that makes the colours neutral. Choosing the ‘wrong’ white balance setting adds a different tint to a photo—like this blue cast because of shooting in Tungsten mode. Photograph/Yarik Mission

It is not always necessary to choose a white balance setting that makes the colours neutral. Choosing the ‘wrong’ white balance setting adds a different tint to a photo—like this blue cast because of shooting in Tungsten mode. Photograph/Yarik Mission

Put aside the common concepts of photography and experiment with your camera’s settings to get some unique photographs! Neha Mutreja encourages you to step out of the box.

There is always a perverse pleasure in breaking norms and rules. Any schoolgoing child will testify to this. So why not for photography too? There is no better joy than to move away from conventions. Doing the opposite of what is typically expected will sometimes take you by surprise with the fantastic results. All you have to do is play around with your camera’s settings and experiment. Let us begin by tweaking the way we normally capture and see our pictures.

Add Grain Deliberately
Yes, it is true that you should generally avoid noise in your images at all costs. It is typically advisable to choose the lowest ISO possible, because it gives you smoother and sharper pictures. But try deliberately boosting the ISO even in bright daylight and closely observe the grainy, shattered-like effect you get on your photographs!
Grain adds to the mood of a colour photograph and more so in the case of a black and white one. It can sometimes make a photo look a little abstract. So, if your camera has a B&W mode that allows you to control ISO, do not hesitate to experiment with it.

Do not be afraid to boost the ISO even when shooting in bright daylight. The impact is stronger in black and white photographs because they get a vintage look. Photograph/Neha Mutreja

Do not be afraid to boost the ISO even when shooting in bright daylight. The impact is stronger in black and white photographs because they get a vintage look. Photograph/Neha Mutreja

Get Low and High Key Images
At most times, photographers put in a lot of effort to achieve the correct exposure. They do this to replicate exactly what they see. But by moving away from this norm, you can get some exceptional results. Experiment with your camera’s metering modes (especially Spot metering) to see what results you get. Alternatively, use the exposure compensation function or the Manual mode.
A high-key image is mostly about light tones—it has no shadow details and very little tonal contrast. Such images impart ethereal or romantic tones and can be effectively used to create dream-like photographs. On the other hand, a low key photograph is dominated by darker tones, and is more sombre. It can be used to portray power or the pensive nature of a subject.

Playing with Colours
Manipulating exposures in colour photography also has the additional effect of altering colours. A slight overexposure will enhance the colours, but an excessive one will make colours appear faded or old (almost pastel shades). Similarly, underexposure deepens shades like green and red—it is most useful when photographing sunsets. Also experiment with any colour settings or filters built into the camera’s systems for different effects.

Experiment with the different colour settings of your camera to change the mood a photograph evokes. For instance, the yellow tint in this photograph makes it look warmer. Photograph/Rajesh Kunnath

Experiment with the different colour settings of your camera to change the mood a photograph evokes. For instance, the yellow tint in this photograph makes it look warmer. Photograph/Rajesh Kunnath

Make Day Look like Night
There are times when your digital camera’s built-in light meter gets fooled by extremely bright or dark elements in a scene. For instance, in brightly lit situations, the camera will automatically underexpose. But there are times when a deliberate underexposure can work wonders too.
Underexposing a barren landscape can lend melancholic tones that convey isolation. You could also lower your exposure by two to three stops for a dark effect in the day; thus making the sun look like the moon. Use the spot metering mode to take a reading from the brightest parts of the scene to achieve this effect.

Shoot Out of Focus
We all aspire to click sharp and detailed photos. However, purposely leaving your main subject out of focus can draw the attention onto colours and shapes. You can choose to have the entire picture hazy, by focusing far behind or in front of your main subject. This will require you to use a wide aperture, as it will help minimise the depth-of-field.
Alternatively, you may want to keep just one element in the frame perfectly sharp and the rest of the image looking completely fuzzy.
Additionally, any bright, light sources in the frame will be rendered as out-of-focus highlights in your frame. Identified as bokeh, these circular splashes of light can look quite pleasing in a photograph.

Keeping the main subject out-of-focus creates an unusual effect. Use this technique when you have more than element in the frame. Photograph/Rohit S Krishnan

Keeping the main subject out-of-focus creates an unusual effect. Use this technique when you have more than element in the frame. Photograph/Rohit S Krishnan

Get Creative with White Balance Settings
Today, most cameras are loaded with automatic features that simply try to average everything out including light, colour temperatures, and the impact of mixed light sources. The Auto White Balance is one such feature, which aims to neutralise colour casts; for example, it fetches yellow from a tungsten bulb or blue from a blue background, and neutralises the colours to make them appear normal.
To create something different, you will have to manually adjust white balance settings. For instance, use the camera’s Sunlight setting in fluorescent light to make the photo look green and in open shades to make it look blue. Tungsten and Incandescent settings used at night also give a different look. Observe how the Cloudy setting, when used in direct sunlight, results in warmer tones in your photographs. The idea is simple—by misadjusting the white balance, you can add a different colour cast to your photographs.

Tilt the Camera
Usually, images must be straight. But try tilting the camera sideways and see what results you get. A diagonal composition can add drama, mood and fun to your photographs. Remember to make it very obvious as it can seem like a mistake otherwise.

Oops! My Hand Shook
Sometimes, purposeful camera shake can give your photograph a sense of movement and energy. This also happens by fluke. So do not discard your mistakes before you take a good look at your photographs. This is very simple to achieve—just set your camera at a shutterspeed that does not allow you to handhold the camera long enough to shoot a steady picture. The resultant up-down shake may give you some unexpected results.

Sometimes a mistake can also result in great photographs. For instance, camera shake can make a photo look like a painting. Photograph/Kunal Panchal

Sometimes a mistake can also result in great photographs. For instance, camera shake can make a photo look like a painting. Photograph/Kunal Panchal

Take Really Blurry Images
Almost every photography tutorial will teach you how you need to freeze your frame and shoot pin-sharp images. Instead of that, how about shooting blurs that convey a sense of movement in subjects? This can be done by setting the camera at a slow shutterspeed that can vary from 1/30sec to up to 40 minutes. You can also simply walk with the camera in your hand with an open shutter. Your walking action and subsequent swinging motion of hand will register streaks of light and splashes of colour.

A long exposure and an unsteady hand allow you to deliberately introduce blur in a photograph and convey a sense of movement. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

A long exposure and an unsteady hand allow you to deliberately introduce blur in a photograph and convey a sense of movement. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Moving away from conventions just for the sake of it, results in not-so pleasing photographs. The fun is when you know the right way to do it, and then consciously set out to experiment. Your photographs will not only be your creations, but they will also be aesthetically strong. So go ahead, attempt some wonders.

Ignore Common Rules of Composition

  • Manage Space in Portraits: With portraits, the position of the subject should usually be such that there is more space on the side of their head. Instead, take some shots with your subject looking into the camera, and some looking to one side that has more space to look into. This will lend different moods to your images.
  • Place the Subject in the Centre: The Rule of Thirds suggests that for most impact, the subject should be positioned at the intersection points of three horizontal and three vertical lines in the frame. However, placing the subject in the centre can also produce powerful images.
  • Use Disappearing Lines: If there are strong lines in the scene, we try to get them to disappear into the corner. This is done because, if the lines break into the centre or the edge, it tends to divide the photo. But if used effectively, it helps in drawing the viewer’s attention and will leave them with a feeling of being lost somewhere
Tags: artistic, blurry, break rules, Composition, conventions, May 2009, Neha Mutreja, out of focus, Shooting Technique, white balance