There used to be a time when only people with SLR (or dSLR) can craft magnificent, gallery-worthy photos. Thankfully that isn’t the case anymore as smartphones became stronger along with its camera hardware. In fact, you do not necessarily need a flagship device to be able to take great sets of photos. Today’s mid-range pack decent lenses and all you need are the know-how, the situation and a fully-charged device at your hand to ensure you take that (Pixel) perfect shot.

To brush us up on photography and mobile photography, ASUS ZenFone flew us along with various media partners, ZenFans and PixelMasters to Boracay for 3 days of IG-worthy adventure!

Welcome to Bora!!!!

ASUS Philippines’ PixelMaster Class is an on-going pocket mobile photography seminar specifically for their ZenFone community. The effort let’s you learn from various Master photographers (dubbed PixelMaster…hence the pun above) where each work coming out from each session gets critiqued and properly guided.

To end another year of cultivating mobile photography through the ZenFone lines, ASUS laid out various fun photo challenges for us and for the hand-picked ZenFans as well as give a few pointers on how to make the most of your device in terms of mobile photography.

1. LIGHT MATTERS

In photography, light is EVERYTHING . The amount of light you use (or don’t use) literally makes or breaks the image. Too much and you risk of creating overexposed shots, too little — and well, everything turns dark. Knowing what time of day to shoot is also crucial and positioning of light — hence flash photography isn’t really advisable especially for a phone camera.

 

Jay Ermitano opening the talk and running down on the basics of photography

 

For the PixelMasterxBoracay challenge, though, the group was tasked to take some creative sunset photos utilizing what is known in photography as the “golden hour” (usually around 4:30 – 6pm) when the sun produces all sorts of yummy colors for you to capture.

2. KNOW YOUR PHONE’S LIMITATION

PixelMaster Ken Go reframing the photo to work with the limitation of your device

Pixel Masters Ken Go and Emir Bautista cannot stress this enough. While smartphones have become stronger as the years progress, and their camera system much more complex, they still have a ton of limitation than say a dSLR — one of which would be the lenses that’s fitted in the system. You can’t change them. So it’s best to learn what they can and cannot do and adjust your shooting style around that. Digital zoom not really working out for you because you tend to be shaky? Don’t use it, or if you have to, use a tripod and a bluetooth clicker to reduce any vibrations that may affect your shot.

PixelMaster Emir Bautista

3. CHANGE YOUR ANGLE

PixelMaster Nicco Valenzuela

Which leads me to the next tip that really stayed with me — change your angle. If you already have an idea of the limitations of your phone, then you may want to change the way you shoot normally. Look at things from a different perspective, change the angle or simply tilting the frame can make wonders of your photo.

Here’s a concrete example during our 2nd day when we were going beach hopping. We saw this beached wooden structure around the shoreline and someone from the events team (ahem, Pierre), decided to use the prop for an impromptu photo session. The natural tendency is to go near and take a shot straight on — as what most of us did. PixelMaster Dail Deri, on the other hand, decided to look at things from a different perspective. 

Our Photo:

 

Her Photo:

 

 

Automatically the quality of the image turned out waaay better — and we were using the same ZenFone with the same setting. All she did was attack the subject matter from a different perspective and used the elements to form a natural frame. BOOM. Instant fashion editorial!

This practical application made me think of every shot and ask the question “Is there a different angle I can shoot this with”.

Applied it to a sunset photo on our way back to Manila. At 32,000 feet up in the air, my initial shot of the sunset is probably want everybody will be taking — with the sunset and the horizonline parallel with the device. So, after taking a few shots, I decided to have some fun with it.

 

 

And the result, after filtering it just ever so slightly on Snapseed, is this:

 

 

The slant, at least for me, gave the photo movement and made it much more interesting than the first orientation.


4. SHOOT WITH INTENT AND WITH A CONCEPT

PixelMaster Arlene Donaire

PixelMaster Arlene Donaire  along with pretty much every PixelMaster that was present would heavily remind us to shoot with intent and to compose the image (more or less) in your mind first. What is it that you want to say? Why are you shooting this scene? Is there a narrative you want to say?

Even if it’s just documenting a barkada trip, try to create a narrative through your photos. This is probably something that you’ll have to be conscious of and have to do so a few number of times (maybe thousands) before it becomes second-nature to you to do so.

 

(c) Alora Uy Guerrero

Above is a great example of a photo that has a lot of creative narrative from the winner of the PixelMasterxBoracay PixelPerfectxTravel, Ms. Alora Guerrero.

 

5. CREATE REGULAR SELF-CHALLENGES

PixelMasters Dail Deri and Ricky Ladia

Creativity is hard to teach, but, there are ways to hone it. PixelMaster Dail Deri suggests creating small self-challenges to help you along the way. In her case, she made a bunch of weekly challenges to keep her creatively locked on a specific subject like creatively shooting office supplies for a week. Then you move on to a different subject and so on and so forth. By the time a month or two ends, you’ll end with a whole bunch of photos and a portfolio of sorts at your disposal.

 

BONUS TIP: Follow these people and get inspired.

Sometimes, especially when you’re starting out, copying works of Masters is the best way to improve your craft – – and eventually lead you to find your own styles. In art this is absurdly evident. Even the Masters themselves, at one point, had copies the great works from their time because that’s how you really learn. If you don’t have a reference point, how would you know what works and what doesn’t. Eventually, as you progress with your craft, you begin to form your own style. Who knows, then after, people might be using your work as reference as well.

To get you started, the PixelMaster Class from ASUS is an amazing entry point into mobile photography. Follow the PixelMasters above and check their craft as each specializes in a particular field. 

ASUS Philippines’ PixelMaster Class is an amazing endeavor from the brand to cultivate a culture of mobile photography excellence. When smartphone’s are being used as the main point-and-shoot of this generation, it only makes sense that efforts like these flourish. For more information about the PixelMaster Club program, check them out at their their official FB Group Page.

If you want to check out our thoughts on the ZenFone 5, you may want to hit here.