Deepavali is one of Malaysia’s top holiday seasons of the year and it’s looming large, like really large because it’s literally 2 days away. People observing the festival are frantically stocking up on all the decorative lights, multi-hued traditional outfits and spreads of delicacies.
‘Tis the season of how light triumphs over darkness, but can the same be said for photographers grappling with capturing the dim-lit ambience after sundown? The struggle is real.
Gettings down-to-fine-detail shots of beautiful diyas (oil lamps), fairy lights and splashes of colour is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you’re not one to use mirrorless cameras like a pro. But, and this is the best part, with the remarkable leaps and bounds smartphones have been over the last decade, you could surpass a DSLR-esque shot with a little bit of practice.
The golden A-S-I rule from the photography playbook
Just to flex some creative muscles here - and to help set in stone the basics of photo-taking - you need to bear in mind a camera’s equivalent of the PRNL gearbox: Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO.
Aperture is the hole that allows you to decide how much light you let into the camera. So, the lower the aperture level, the brighter your image.
Shutter speed is the speed of the light. In layman’s terms, it’s the amount of time the camera sensor is exposed to the light. The higher the speed, the more light enters through the lens.
And finally, you have the ISO, which stands for International Organisation for Standardisation (brownie points for the person that invented acronyms and made our lives a mile easier). This function mainly deals with the image sensitivity to light. You can either manipulate it during the photography or after you’ve captured it.
All of the above are readily available on the latest Apple and Android handsets. All you need to do is slightly adjust yourselves to these and bam, your Instagram feeds are picturesque.
Having a sharp eye and still hands for close-ups
Let’s start with the iPhone series, from the 7 Plus to latest 11. The plethora of functions available can allow you to take top-notch photos, particularly with the Portrait mode. The depth-effect creates the illusion of a blur background, in the professional photography world that is known as the depth of field.
Minimal lighting could hamper the possibility of achieving that portrait enthral, but the way to counter that is manually adjusting the position of the camera.
Even better is the Realme X2 Pro where you have a night-vision feature called Nightscape 2.0, made specifically for low-light photography. The flagship’s predecessors are just as equipped to take on detailed photos, thanks to its 16MP+12MP dual rear cameras.
Remember, to strike the dramatic effect, the rule of thumb is to have a toned down and dark background, with a brighter subject (i.e., a candle or diya) at the centre. You’ll surprise yourself with incredibly steady hands to capture the perfectly artistic shot of the decor.
Wide-angle landscape shots aren’t impossible in the dark
Not to play favourites here, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a wide-angle lens that even in dim-lit environments, photos appear far brighter than iPhone and Huawei combined - sorry not sorry.
According to the DxOMark Score - a leading digital camera reviews testing site - no matter the flash mode, the exposure of photos indoors and outdoors turn out brighter, less shaky and captures an accurate tone of the subject.
To avoid sounding too biased, Xiaomi’s Mi9 and essentially all of its budget behemoth phones including the Redmi Note 7 Pro, present excellent dynamic ranges of shade and tone in a wide shot. Hands down to the triple camera setup.
Defocusing the background to activate that blur effect is also a feature you can find in the Xiaomi series so you’ll win the best deep portraits award of the Deepavali pictures.
Going all-out with third-party lens while staying true to the handset
If you can’t be bothered with the technical adjustments to bag professional photos, you have dedicated add-ons to increase the A-S-I quality even during zooms.
A Taiwan-based tech company, bitplay, places the future of photography squarely in the palm of your hands. If you buy the Snap!8 all-purpose case exclusively compatible with iPhones, any add-on lens from Bitplay will attach seamlessly with it.
Android users, you’ve got the choice to buy bitplay’s AllClip Photography Set that you can attach on top of any smartphone case. The two lens collections which are regular and Premium HD are scratch-resistant and produces outstanding results.
Another all-in-one camera kit tailored for most smartphones mentioned in this piece is by Apexel, it comes with a mini tripod. The piece de resistance for the Deepawali celebrants is the filter kit. When facing bright objects, you can use a star filter for adding a new shape and pattern to your photos. As if that isn’t in the spirit of the festival already.
We could write a 5-page essay on the endless possibilities of how to master the artful camera features of your smartphones. But in the next 48 hours, it’s safe to say that you can home in on these skills and get your hands on what you need to mark the end of the harvest season by capturing surreal moments like no other.
This article was written by Fatima Qureshi