17 May 2015

Russel Wong shares tips on phonecam photography at OPPO workshop

Wong demonstrating how the O-Click remote control can be used to take pictures with OPPO N3 even though the phone may be quite far away. The O-Click's range is about 10m.

Celebrity photographer and photographer of celebrities Russel Wong no longer carries a compact camera with him when his phone can do the job. Wong explained that an OPPO N3 can can shoot pictures in the RAW format favoured by professional photographers, and comes with software with outstanding image editing features to boot.

The Expert Mode for the N3 allows camera parameters such as white balance, exposure and ISO mode to be adjusted, Wong explained at the It's Your Turn with Russel Wong! photography workshop for bloggers organised by OPPO in Singapore (It's Your Turn is one of the taglines for the OPPO N3). In fact, Wong said lightening the exposure slightly can make skin look more luminescent, with a little less detailing, which he said the ladies might prefer.

"I know the picture quality is pretty decent if I blow it up to 8x10," he added of the large image files the N3 can produce in Ultra HD mode. "If it is a huge file, you can shrink it. If you shoot on a small file, you will only get pixels (if you expand it)," he said.

The Colorful Night mode, on the other hand, can reduce graininess in night shots, he added. Wong was generous with advice during the workshop, giving tips such as:

Set things up before beginning.
All equipment has to be in place as subjects such as kids (or celebrities) can lose interest quite quickly during the session. "You've got to get it in the first five minutes," Wong said. 

Always do variations. 
Moving the phone to the left or to the right, or half-body versus full-body shots can give a completely different look and feel to the picture. "Shoot everything, then edit," he said.

Ask the subjects to move around.
This is as opposed to shooting where they happen to be, as "nothing is fixed". He also suggested asking subjects to tilt their faces slightly as slight changes in the angle can change the shape of the face significantly.

Only amateurs centre shots. 
"It gives a different feel," Wong said of making subjects slightly off-centre, or even cropping them in half vertically. "Moving the phone slightly can change the shot."

Don't raise the phone too high.
When the camera takes pictures from a high angle, it causes foreshortening, as if the subject has very short legs. Wong says to hold the phone upright, perpendicular to the floor. He noted that as phone camera lenses are typically wider angle than those for cameras, slight tilts can also distort the picture. "Portrait shots should be at eye level," he said. "Zoom in a bit so that the distortion cuts out."

Create an imaginary border around pictures. 
This technique gets around the problem of distortion right at the edge of the image. This problem exists with all camera lenses, Wong said. "You can always crop it," he said.

Try cropping foreheads. 
"You can see more of the eyes. Look at cover shots," Wong said, sharing that he has done the same for his celebrity subjects. Wong's portraits on his website also show how cropping part of the forehead can change the emphasis of a shot.

Keep shooting, even when the subject is not posing. 
Wong spoke of capturing actor Jackie Chan laughing at a joke, a picture which turned out to be one of the best of the session. 

Print pictures in a lossless format like TIFF, not a lossy format like JPEG, so you have more information in the file. 

Wong particularly likes the Bluetooth remote control accessory for the N3, the O-Click, which can remotely control the camera within 10m. He also demonstrated how the N3's camera can take panoramic pictures without moving the phone at all. According to OPPO, the 16 megapixel camera swivels in precise increments of 0.012° in either direction with its precision stepper motor to capture the fine details of the picture within a span of 206° in the 'slow rotating' mode.

The best pictures may however need added lighting. Wong said large light sources impart a soft light to subjects, whereas smaller light sources can be harsher.

Wong will be available at a similar workshop for the public on 6 June in the first of a series of events at the OPPO Concept store in Singapore. It’s your turn with Russel Wong! runs from 5pm to 9pm at the OPPO Concept Store, Suntec City Tower 3, #01-627.

Lucky members of the public at the store might also get a chance to have their portraits taken by Wong himself.

Need background?

Read the WorkSmart Asia blog post about the launch of the OPPO N3
View Wong's portfolio