Donut selfie hits the spot

University of Edinburgh undergraduate Xynna Pang (above), did hers at Arthur’s Seat, an inactive volcano in Scotland.
University of Edinburgh undergraduate Xynna Pang (above), did hers at Arthur’s Seat, an inactive volcano in Scotland.
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang; use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows; or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam (above), which gives photos nostalgic, sub
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang; use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows; or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam (above), which gives photos nostalgic, subtle hues. -- PHOTO: CHIA AIK BENG
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang; use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows (above); or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam, which gives photos nostalgic, sub
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang; use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows (above); or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam, which gives photos nostalgic, subtle hues. -- PHOTO: INSTAGRAM
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang (above); use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows; or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam, which gives photos nostalgic, sub
To take photos with a difference, go for a fisheye effect like actor Tosh Zhang (above); use reflective surfaces such as water puddles and play with the shadows; or experiment with photo filter apps such as VSCO Cam, which gives photos nostalgic, subtle hues. -- PHOTO: TOSH ZHANG
Singaporean Vincent Tan captured his backpacking trip to Thailand in a creative montage of multiple donut selfie videos he took on his GoPro camera. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF VINCENT TAN
Singaporean Vincent Tan captured his backpacking trip to Thailand in a creative montage of multiple donut selfie videos he took on his GoPro camera. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF VINCENT TAN

Execute the latest fad in selfies by putting the camera on video mode and panning it across your face - there you have it, the donut selfie

A new method of taking the now-ubiquitous digital self-portrait, or selfie, has been making its rounds on the Internet.

Dubbed the donut selfie, it is in no way related to the well-loved fried pastry, but is every bit as appealing - with a nifty swivel of your smartphone, you get the dramatic effect of a camera sweeping across your face.

A sample video by its inventor, American designer Karen X. Cheng, has already garnered close to 800,000 views since it was uploaded a month ago on videosharing network YouTube.

Ms Cheng wrote on her website: "Selfies are usually flat images and nothing has changed besides some filters. But in the meantime, our phone cameras have gotten way more advanced. This is a gorgeous way to capture yourself and your surroundings."

To do a donut selfie, place the camera phone in your left hand with the camera at your right temple, then loop it in a circular motion to your left temple.

For a cooler visual, use a camera with a slow-motion video function.

One Singaporean, full-time national serviceman Vincent Tan, 22, has been featured on Ms Cheng's website for a creative montage of multiple donut selfie videos he took on his GoPro camera while backpacking in Thailand.

"I did it for fun and to show my friends the places I'd been to. It's also a nice way to preserve my memories of the trip," he tells SundayLife!

Other Instagrammers here have also picked up on the fad. Singer-guitarist Benjamin Kheng, from local quartet The Sam Willows, roped in his bandmates and friends to do one on the band's Instagram account (@thesamwillows).

For comic effect, he panned the camera across his face, while the others pretended to fall backwards in an exaggerated manner.

He says: "We wanted to do something ridiculous and fun to wish our friend happy birthday, so I suggested trying this out. It's cooler than your average selfie."

jianxuan@sph.com.sg

For more information, go to www.donutselfie.com/


PICTURES THAT POP

Since "selfie" was crowned Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2013, it has become firmly entrenched in today's cultural lexicon.

Its rise is mirrored by the skyrocketing popularity of image-sharing social application Instagram, which gained more than 60 million new monthly active users last year. Its active user pool now stands at 200 million - the same as Brazil's population, which is the world's fifth biggest.

Plough through the "Explore" feed in the app and you will find almost everyone getting their selfie game on, from pouty teenage girls parading their outfits of the day, to po-faced politicians breaking out the monopod sticks and smiles for "wefies" at grassroots events.

As camera makers introduce more sophisticated functions, users such as American designer Karen X. Cheng have devised ways like the latest donut selfie craze to improve their shots.

SundayLife! checks out four other methods and tricks to take your photos to the next level.

1. Fisheye, wide angle and macro shots

To make your shots look less flat and "pop" off the screen, aim for a fisheye effect, which visually distorts your shots to create a wider and rounder image.

Singaporean actor Tosh Zhang uses a GoPro Hero3+ camera for such shots on his Instagram (@toshrock).

"I want to give my photos a different feel from the usual that I would take with my phone," he explains.

The effect can also be simulated with applications. Some popular (and free) ones are Fisheye for the iPhone and FXCamera for Android phones.

Clip-on lens that you can attach to your phone are another option.

Some examples include macro lens for extreme close-ups, while wide lens allow you to shoot with wider angles.

These are available on sites such as www.camera-licious.com and www.prettycloset.sg 

2. Surfaces and silhouettes

Make use of reflective surfaces such as water puddles and mirrors, and play with shadows to give your photos more depth.

Graphic designer Chia Aik Beng, 47, recommends the ProCamera 8 app ($4.98, iPhone only), which allows users to tinker with exposure settings, to easily capture silhouettes.

"Focus on something bright to bring out the contrast in your picture," he says.

Another notable local Instagrammer, 21-year-old Yafiq Yusman (@-yafiqyusman-), uses puddle shots to capture Singapore's urban landscapes.

3. Post-processing

While Instagram comes with its own set of colour filters, there are other apps that give your picture that extra evocative tinge. One such app is VSCO Cam, a favourite among photographers for its nostalgic, subtle hues and customisable settings.

Says Mr Chia, who has a 17,000-strong Instagram following (@aikbengchia): "When using filters, it's best not to overdo them. Just make some mild adjustments. Also, slightly underexposed photos are easier to tweak than overexposed ones."

4. Panodash

For an impressive visual trick, do the Panodash, a term coined by netizens for a panorama shot where the subject appears multiple times.

It entails the subject circling behind the camera and re-appearing in the shot as it pans horizontally.

Such shots work best when the background scenery is too expansive to be taken in with a normal shot, such as long stretches of beach or on mountaintops.

Welding superintendent Jonathan Ang, 26, took his panodash on a hill at Ngong Ping Village in Hong Kong.

"I saw it on a YouTube video and wanted to find a creative and fun way to capture the scenery," he says.

University of Edinburgh undergraduate Xynna Pang, 20, did hers at Arthur's Seat, an inactive volcano in Scotland. "I felt it was a nice way to capture the sunset, but my friend and I had to try a few times to get the timing right," she says.