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It is said that today’s smart phones have more technology inside than it was necessary to put man on the moon. When referring to their cameras, it is probably safe to say the image quality is also superior to many cameras that were being used by the average family back then . Mobile photography started to be taken seriously not so long ago, and until then, taking a picture with your phone was either something you would do for fun ( the poor image quality was part of the fun) or because it was an extreme measure of some sort.
Most of the smartphones we use today offer decent image quality and some are actually quite impressive. We are therefore entitled to say that we are very lucky to be able to have this kind of technology with us at all times. A wise man once said the best camera ever is the one you have with you. By this rule, there are some pretty amazing photographers on the web who use only their phones for their work. Here are 9 ideas to help you create beautiful photography using your phone.
1. Understand the limitations
As good as a mobile phone camera may be, it’s still quite limited when compared to a conventional compact camera . The lens is fixed so zoom is pretty much out of the question (digital zoom is something no person should ever use). That means you will be changing perspective via step power. The shutter speed and aperture values are also quite limited, so most of the exposure setting will be done by changing ISO. Luckily, there are apps that can improve some of the camera’s limitations.
2. Find the best apps
Having the right apps installed can significantly improve the camera’s abilities. Some of them have grids to help you frame better, others have included editing options and good control over focus and exposure. There even some apps like Slow Shutter, that will enable you to use long exposures with your phone. Bet you didn’t dream of that five years ago.Instagram needs no presentation. It has revolutionized mobile photography, created one of the most active online platforms and paved the way for using retro filters to enhance images. Even if you don’t use its filters, I recommend sharing your photos on the network and looking for inspiration. There are some absolutely amazing photographers on Instagram who use smartphones only.
3. Practice your ninja skills
Probably the greatest advantage of using a phone as a camera, besides portability, is the fact that is draws virtually no attention to itself. With the right moves, you can capture amazing photos even in the most crowded places, as well as in the quiet ones where nobody has anything important do to and attention could easily be stolen. It’s not all as easy as you might think. While taking out your phone is as common as any other human gesture, holding it to get a proper frame isn’t and that’s where practice will be required. There are some apps that allow you to use the camera while having the screen turned off; that way even if you do look like you’re holding the phone in a suspicious way, you still have a chance at capturing the moment.Sixty Tips for Creative iPhone Photography
Speed is important as well in photographing unexpected scenes. It’s not exactly as interesting as training for a cowboy duel , but it is still pretty fun to be able to get your phone out of your pocket and turn the camera on in record time. Just be careful if you have a wallet type holster. It could get tricky and the last thing you want to do is drop your phone in public.
4. Get some additional optics
I never imagined I would be recommending anything remotely related to this but, hey, it’s not the first time technology works miracles. Since the lens on your iPhone or Android phone is a fixed one, you should consider the possibility of enhancing the optical power with an additional lens (there, I said it!). There are some good options that cost very little, so even if you won’t end up using them full time, you should give them a go.
5. Composition should be flawless
Because these are not advanced cameras, things like beautiful colors, good dynamic range and low light performance are out of the question, so you are left with very little to create a powerful image. The most important of all is composition. Do your best to get the right framing and use the size of the screen to your advantage. Composition rules such as the rule of thirds are much easier to apply on a large screen than in a viewfinder. Although the square format seems to be the standard these days, I strongly suggest trying multiple formats on an image before the final upload.
6. Use frames
A frame can do a lot of good for the overall look of a photograph. Just make sure to keep it simple because it’s not the frame you want getting the attention, but what’s inside it. Also, black or white fits any image, but you can pick a different color as long as it doesn’t “scream”.
7. Always be changing perspective
It is the lightest camera you own so there is no excuse to try only one perspective when you find something interesting. Even if you move one step in any direction, it will look different and possibly better .Again, the large screen will help you choose the best angle.
8. Have some love for black and white
There are a lot of really good looking filters available, yet not a lot of people try to see what their photos would look like in black/white. Next time you photograph something interesting that hasn’t got color as a main attraction, try a desaturated filter. You might be surprised with the results.
9. Have a positive attitude and curiosity
There are still a lot of professional photographers who would never consider photographing anything “serious” with their phones, yet there are others of equal status who create most of their personal work with these devices. It depends on your attitude towards photography, but I for one found it very refreshing to not have to carry a camera and still feel safe about capturing the right moment, should it occur. It is still early in the age of mobile photography and things are just starting to grow. Eventually, it will reach a technical level that could rival and even surpass bigger cameras. For now, all I can say is that I’m really happy with this tool that allows me to be in the center of the action without being perceived as a photographer. Street photography is one my favorite things to do and I do it solely for my personal pleasure. Five years ago the smallest camera I could take to the streets was small enough to fit in my pocket, but it was still a lousy camera and it would still get attention. Having this incredible opportunity to shoot “below the radar” should empower you to capture moments that would otherwise remain only in your memory.
Ironically, shooting with a phone is a lot like shooting film. You can do all the editing on one device and that saves you an enormous amount of time; it’s that time you could spend shooting instead of handling a mouse. Go out, shoot, upload and do it again.
Photos copyright Sergiu Aursulesei
Written by Sergiu Aursulesei