The photos you capture with your phone have to be of your pet, your family, your food, or yourself, right?
Your smartphone is a wildly powerful camera that can help you extend the boundaries of what you think is possible in terms of photography with your phone. This includes creating breathtaking specialty images like long exposures, abstracts, and images that distort the viewer’s point of view.
Really, all that’s needed is a few tips and the right equipment, and you can add fun, unique, and eye-catching photos to your camera roll. Let’s explore how to do that.
The manner in which you take a solid long exposure photo with your smartphone is really not unlike the process you undertake when using a DSLR or mirrorless camera. First, you need a tripod to give your smartphone a solid base - any vibrations or movement will cause the image to be blurry and ruin the long exposure effect.
Next, you need some method of attaching your phone to the tripod. There are many options out there, but be sure to find something - whether it’s a special case, a cradle, or another mount - that it is designed specifically for your phone and that it will securely hold your phone in place.
Then, you’ll need to download an app that gives you the ability to create long exposures. Most slow shutter apps don’t actually control the camera’s shutter, but instead combine multiple exposures into one image to give the impression of a long exposure image.
Whatever app you select, ensure that it gives you the ability to control exposure settings as well as the artistic effect that controls the level of blur and the duration of time during which the camera takes photos. The app should have a built in timer as well, that way you don’t have to touch the phone to initiate the shot, as that could cause camera shake.
After that, it’s just a matter of getting some practice utilizing the camera and app to get the desired effect. Moving water, clouds, and passing vehicles are great subjects for long exposure photography. Whatever subject you choose, take a few practice shots and examine the effect. Then, once you get the hang of it, you can start to manipulate the app settings to enhance the look of the movement in your long exposure images.
The great thing about abstract photography is that you can make any ordinary object look like something otherworldly. That means that as you’re walking into work, taking the dog for a walk, or performing any other daily task, you can pull out your smartphone and make a compelling image with nothing more than interesting lines, shapes, or colors, to name a few.
Therein lies the key to successful abstract photography with your smartphone: using lines, curves, shapes, patterns, textures, and shadows or highlights. Now, we all know what these things are, and can recognize when we see them. The difficulty is learning how to use these features as the central subject in a compelling photo.
Like any other photography pursuit, this takes a lot of practice and a healthy dose of patience. Central to this kind of photography is simply training your photographer’s eye to not just see a shadow or a shape or a texture, but understand how you can frame it within your image such that the resulting photo is eye-catching, like the one above.
One way to train your eye to see in abstract is to focus on seeing the pieces of the whole. For example, rather than looking at an office building in your city and seeing a large building, notice how each window pane looks. Identify the various lines that comprise the building’s facade. Note interesting shadows along the base of the building. If you do that - deconstruct the scene - you can more easily highlight the abstract forms within it.
Fisheye photography represents another interesting specialty photo you can take with your smartphone. The beauty of a fisheye lens is the manner in which it distorts the view - turning otherwise ordinary subject matter into a creative and unique image that bends the mind.
The primary effect of a fisheye lens is to bend straight lines into curves. As a result, a photo of a landscape ends up not with a flat horizon but with an overly exaggerated curved horizon. But, that isn’t the only purpose a fisheye lens serves. In fact, you can take unique portraits in which the person’s face is distorted in an interesting way. You can also use it indoors for architectural photography, such as photographing the entire ceiling of a room.
Like the other types of photos discussed above, mastering the art of fisheye photography takes practice and patience. And, because you have to act as your own zoom and move yourself closer to or further away from the subject, it also requires that you experiment with your placement and perspective, and take photos from different angles and heights to maximize the effect of the lens.
Additionally, you also need to outfit yourself with a high-quality fisheye lens for your smartphone. Our pick is Sirui (pictured above) because of the level of precision in the construction of the lens. The lens is made with German Schott glass which has a multi-layer AR coating, meaning you get a clear, sharp result every time. What’s more, the lens has a viewing angle of up to 170-degrees, giving you an ultra-wide-angle view of your subject. It’s the ideal complement to your smartphone so you can maximize your creative pursuits in photography.
Even though we tend to use our smartphones to take photos of everyday events, that certainly doesn’t mean they’re limited to taking the same boring photos day in and day out. With the right inspiration, the appropriate app, or a high-quality fisheye lens from Sirui, you can take on long exposures, abstracts, and fisheye photography, all with your phone!