Android Photo Composition
Last week I decided to take my landscape photography seriously. I planned the shot but even if I have the right mindset, it was still a challenge because I found out that I don’t have the right tools and the correct preparation.
That experience lead me to take composition more seriously. I know this is a cliché — the only rule in photography is that there are no rules but there are composition techniques that we can use to make more artistic photo. The popular techniques include rule of thirds, golden mean, deep depth of field, shallow depth of field, color, shapes, framing, leading lines and different kind of lines.
You might already know that Nikon released the first Android based camera recently. The apps listed below should could beef-up that camera with DSLR-like features.
If you have a phone camera, point and shoot camera or an entry-level DSLR, you will find these Android apps will be helpful in your composition as well. These apps are not necessary camera apps. Majority of these apps are utility tools to help you understand the technical side of photography. I haven’t found the iOS equivalent of these apps but I will cover them next time. For now enjoy these Android apps that can help you make better photo composition.
1. Camera FV-5
This is not just a simple camera that puts fancy effects in your photos. It puts DSLR-like manual controls in your fingertips and it’s probably one of the most advanced camera app in Android. You can set exposure compensation, ISO, light metering mode, focus mode, white balance and, [shutter] speed mode and program mode. It even have bracketing options and live RGB histograms.
The rule of thirds is probably the most widely use guideline in creating stunning pictures but there are more composition guidelines built around the divine proportions such as golden mean or the golden ratio. Sensor Camera gives you the basic rule of thirds grid as well as golden sections, golden triangle, golden spiral, golden spiral stretched and face geometry.
One of the improvement area on this app is the zoom feature. You can’t zoom on the current version of Sensor Camera so you have to move closer or farther to you subject if you want to compose your picture using this app.
And one more thing, this app is proudly made in the Philippines.
You get real-time histogram too but unlike Camera FV-5, you only get 1 histogram with 3 segments to easily figure the midtones, highlights and shadows. You can overlay 3 x 3 grid or Fibonacci spiral that you can rotate depending on the orientation.
Depth of field is the most important aspect in selective focusing. If your camera has depth of field (DOF) preview that’s great, but if you don’t have DOF preview it is hard to guess how deep or shallow the depth of field will be until you take your photo.
As part of the creative process, knowing the depth of field in advance can help you plan the exposure parameters ahead of time so you will not spend your time playing around with different aperture value. Your time is better spent taking great pictures.
Depth of Field Calculator calculates depth of field (DOF) using the specified camera model, the focus length, f-stop and subject distance to give you the near limit, far limit and hyperfocal distance for your camera.
There are several other DOF calculator in this list but this is the easiest to understand. The diagram feature is the best way to understand how DOF works.
5. DoF Calc
DoF Calc also considers teleconverter in calculating depth of field.
6. DOF Droid
If the diagram of Depth of Field Calculator is not enough, DoF Droid gives you several diagram to compare depth of field against aperture size and focus distance.
This app lets you put in the exposure without filter (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and then the Exposure Value (EV) adjustment which is equal to adding neutral density (ND) filter.
If you use ND filters, this is the best app you can get in calculating exposure after adding ND filters. Professional landscape photographers would know this by heart but if you are just starting, this app can be a life saver.
8. Photo Tools
Photo Tools is a collection of photography tools including focal tools, exposure tools, time tools, weather and location tools, color tools and other miscellaneous tools.
If you are learning how to be a good photographer, you can use these collection of tools to understand how your camera works on different conditions.
This is very helpful if you want to achieve that special sky color when taking your pictures. Golden and Blue hours are calculated by this app using precise algorithms to get the time at any place on Earth at any date.
I wish I have this app when I was shooting seascapes.
This is a free app for serious photographers – without ads! It includes several tools such as exposure calculator, DoF calculator, timer, distance meter and more.
During design and planning stage of your composition, you can use these apps to setup how you are going to use your camera and photography equipment so that the next time you go on out to take photos you will get better photo composition and a winning shot.