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How you, too, can master wide-angle photography

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LG has partnered with wide-angle professional photographer MITCHELL KROG, to offer consumers insight on how to best capture special moments with their smartphones, in a wide angled manner.

Ever found yourself staring at a bold South African landscape – a sunset over the mountains, a pillar of clouds over the ocean, rolling sands of a desert – and been struck with an urge to capture its beauty? Of course you have – you live in the age of Instagram and the camera phone after all.

There’s only one problem. When you do take that picture of the once-in-a-lifetime vista, it doesn’t exactly come out the way you remember it. Everything just seems… small. Insignificant. Boring.

Wide angle photography can help solve the problem of every smartphone wielding traveller who’s been awestruck by a sunset. Thankfully, today’s cameras make it simple to learn the art of the wide angle. Using a camera specially designed to take wide angle photos, such as the LG X cam with its 120° and 13MP lens, will allow you to capture gorgeous panoramas, as the way they were meant to be viewed.

For those amateur photographers who really want to take their wide angled photography to the next level – we’re talking framed shots hanging on the living room wall and Facebook albums to die for – you’ll need to take some expert tips into account.

Find your focus

Wide angle shots excel at showcasing strong foreground elements balanced against interesting backgrounds, especially if there’s contrast between the two. This makes the choice of focal point important. Too much background without a focal area in the foreground can result in a lonely shot full of empty space.

Then there are the edges. Ever watched an old movie that’s been remastered for today’s televisions and noticed a boom mic at the edge of the frame? Because these movies were created for different aspect ratios, the wider angle of today’s TVs can lead to some unintentionally hilarious shots.

The same is true for photography. A wider angle means more of a chance for unwanted elements to sneak into your shot without noticing. When composing a wide angle shot, don’t get so focused on your focal point that you ignore what’s happening at the edges.

Spurn the same old

One of the biggest advantages of having a wide angle camera at your disposal is that you can create some unusual and unique shots thanks to the lens’ perception distortion. Pointing your phone upwards to take a picture of trees in a forest, for example, makes the trunks look like they are leaning in.

Because of this tendency to distort images, panoramic shots are ideal for landscape and architectural shots. Extreme close-up shots also benefit from this distortion, so don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subject. Experimenting with the angle of your pictures is a great way of turning what would ordinarily be a plain shot into something much more dramatic.

Embrace distortion

While distortion can be cool, sometimes you want a more conventional shot. Be mindful of the lines of your shot. If you want to avoid distortion, simply put the camera level with the horizon or switch to standard mode.

Also be careful of taking shots of people. Their features can quickly become out of proportion – turning a normal nose into a honker, in just a single unflattering close-up. We recommend sticking to standard portrait shots for the most part, but if you do want to add some quirkiness to a shot, a wide angle shot is the way to go.

However you approach your wide-angle shots, don’t be afraid to experiment. The beauty of smartphone photography is that you can delete the images that don’t quite work and redo your shot until you get it right.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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