Tag Archives: Ben Gray

3 Easy Tips from the Pros for Taking Better Photos with Your Phone

If everyone’s a writer in the Internet age, then it’s doubly true that everyone’s a photographer.

We all take a lot of pictures, mostly on our phones. It’s fun, it’s easy and — unlike in the prehistoric days when we had to develop film — it’s a source of cheap and instant gratification.

But are you doing it right?

If you’re like me, you might not even notice that sometimes you’re taking pictures that will show telephone poles growing out of someone’s head … or you might look at the photo later and say, It really wasn’t that dark in there.

I’m no expert. But I’ve had the privilege of working with great professional photographers and designers over the years. And they’ve been kind enough to share pointers that are so basic and simple, even I have benefitted from using them.

So try these out next time you’re taking selfies or shots of the family, the dogs or even landscapes.

And shoot a LOT. It’s digital!

1. The Rule of Thirds. You know how Instagram puts a tic-tac-toe board over your screen? It’s to help you compose the image so that the subject is where it should be. And most of the time, it’s at one of the four intersection points. Use this with any camera, any time. Just divide the screen into thirds horizontally and thirds vertically, and put the main subject at one of the points where the lines cross.

2. Look at the entire screen. What is behind the subject and what’s filling the rest of the image area? If you’re taking a photo of mom in the living room, is there a giant floral arrangement behind her that will make her look like an alien peacock? Is the wallpaper so loud it competes with her Christmas sweater?

3. It’s all about the lighting. Be sure to touch the screen on the main subject — mom’s face, for instance — so your phone or camera adjusts to light her. Be careful of putting people in front of windows or other bright light — it can make them appear so dark that you can’t see them in the photo.

THE BAD (mine)

photography tips, iPhone, how to take better photos, Georgia Tech, GA Tech, undergraduates, North Avenue, Atlanta

What’s wrong with this picture? A lot! (I can say that because I took it.) My friend Pete Cross, who is a sensational photographer, pointed out that I have a telephone pole growing out of one of the guy’s heads AND a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on his ear. Also, the shadows are unfortunate. I could’ve just moved around them a bit to get a better shot.

THE GOOD (a pro’s)

Ben Gray, photos, photography, iphone photos, how to take better pictures, Atlanta, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ben Gray liked the image of nature overcoming the sign, and he added to it by following the Rule of Thirds down the right side. He also waited for a little action in the background. Ben says adding a little activity, or something different in another plane, adds to the shot.

MORE BEN GRAY:  His #runography project

RELATED: ‘Everybody Writes,’ indeed

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When the Photographer Started Running, What Did He Get? #Runography, of Course

We all long for a career doing something we love.

Ben Gray, Atlanta, Journal-Constitution, AJC, running, runner, ultra distance, ultra-marathon, marathon, people who run crazy distances, instagram, runography, belt line

He carries a little tripod for the occasional selfie.

Some of us find passion in a hobby.

Ben Gray has both – and a way to combine them in a new creative project on social media.

Five days a week, Ben, 43, wraps his iPhone in a plastic baggie and tucks it into the inside-waistband pocket of his running shorts. Then Ben – an award-winning photojournalist and an ultra-marathon runner — hits the streets, trails and backroads of Atlanta for runs that can last several hours.

Along the way, when he spots something that would make a good photo, he stops, takes out the iPhone, gets a quick shot – and uploads it to his Instagram account with the #runography hashtag.

Ben Gray, Atlanta, Journal-Constitution, AJC, running, runner, ultra distance, ultra-marathon, marathon, people who run crazy distances, instagram, runographyThen he keeps on running.

Ben estimates he’ll log 2,000 miles this year. He’s burned 163,000 calories so far in 2014. This year, he ran his first 100-mile race. And he only started four years ago (not counting high school track).

At age 39, Ben had covered the Peachtree Road Race for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for many years. He always thought it looked like fun, so he decided to start training for the 10K.

“I hated it when I started,” he says now. “The turning point was when I could go a distance and actually get somewhere. I could find different routes and check out different neighborhoods.”

Soon he was running from the AJC’s Dunwoody office to the Lindbergh MARTA station. His wife and two kids would drive from their Southwest Atlanta home to their Decatur church 11 miles away, and he’d meet them there on foot.

The Peachtree led to his first marathon, then first 50K, 50-miler, 100K and onward.

That takes a lot of training, but a photographer’s eyes are never blind to what he’s passing. The iPhone is easy to carry and Ben likes the constraints of it and posting the shots immediately. No fuss, no filters, no slowing the heart rate — and no treating it like an assignment for work.

He’s growing a following on Instagram and considering ways to take #runography to another level.

“It’s really about what I like and what I’m seeing,” he says. “And hopefully, other people like it, too.”

Follow Ben on Instagram 

Click here for 3 easy tips for better pics


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