To paraphrase a recent TV commercial, “What are two-thirds of the people in the world holding right now?” The answer is a cell phone, and approximately 1.5 billion of them are smartphones, which is predicted to double by 2015, which will equal 40% to 50% of the world’s population having a smartphone. This also means that the most common digital camera is in our phones. This may be very convenient, but, of course, cell phone/smartphone cameras are still somewhat limited, although the technology has made great strides during the last few years.
Undoubtedly, the future of digital photography for many, if not most, people in the world will be contained in their smartphones. That’s why it’s important to start today to understand how to squeeze more photo, or image, quality from your smartphone; and these 10 tips should help.
Don’t Forget the Rules of Composition
Smartphone photography may be in its infancy, but you must still think like a photographer whenever you’re shooting with your mobile device. Remember to use the Rule-of-Thirds and other compositional guidelines to help maximize the look of your photos, even if the sensor and lens limit the kind of pictures you can capture.
Don’t Rely on the Lens’ Zoom Function
The manufacturer of your cell/smartphone may have given the lens some zoom capability, but it’s digital zoom technology, and not optical zoom. As much as you would like to use it, you won’t be happy with the results. An option to consider is Schneider Optics’ iPro 2X Tele Lens, which is the equivalent of a 60mm lens in 35mm format, or 84mm for video. You can order it from the company’s Website at iprolens.com.
You can also crop a wider image during post-production on your computer, or, of course, the best solution is one we preach all the time at PhotographyTalk, which is simply to move closer to your subject.
Do More Creativity in Post-Production
Your smartphone may come with photo editing capabilities, but the best way to enhance the quality of your images is to become an editing master. Learn how to use Photoshop, Lightroom or other editing software to offset the limits of your smartphone’s photography technology.
Shooting with a cell/smartphone is actually a very good reason to become an expert at light. The device’s sensor is unable to capture as much light as a compact camera or DSLR, so you’re essentially forced to learn more about light to help the sensor as much as possible. Learn how to read the light and position your subject and you, so you have the most and best light for your photos. Some smartphones have a small flash. It doesn’t have much power, but learning how to use it as a fill light outdoors could give your pictures a real boost.
Give Your Phone’s Other Photo Functions a Try
Just as you would (or should) with a compact or DSLR camera, read your phone’s manual thoroughly to learn all of its other photo functions. Some include a grid that is super-imposed over your view to help with composition. Other phones will have an HDR and/or panorama mode. You lose nothing by trying these and you may gain new knowledge. Plus, the images these modes capture can be “fixed” or enhanced in post-production.
Don’t Be So Quick to Trash Images
Reviewing your images on your cell/smartphone is not the best way to determine their value. The screen is small and doesn’t have the resolution of your computer or tablet. You might be surprised how much better many of them look once you load them onto your computer.
Check Your Phone for Space
Smartphones are also a music-listening, game-playing and apps-using device, so you must check your phone’s memory regularly to make sure you have enough memory to shoot photos and videos whenever the occasion arises. This is another reason to make post-production an important complement to shooting with a smartphone. As you become more of an editing master, it will become part of your routine to empty your phone’s memory, upload those images to your computer and make backup copies to store on another device or in the cloud.
Direct Sunlight is Still the Enemy
A basic bit of knowledge about light is that direct sunlight is one of the worse ways to illuminate a subject or scene. The best photographers know that it’s better to move your subject into the shade, where there is still adequate ambient light, or to shoot during early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and more diffuse.
Don’t Be a Static Photographer
Often, the best (and easiest) way to improve photography with any camera is to move closer to your subject, so he or she fills the frame. Again, the limitation of a smartphone camera lens won’t allow you to create a pleasing, professional-looking blurred background, so try to eliminate as much of the background as possible by tightening your composition.
What a Convenience!
Despite the limits of the smartphone for photography, the convenience of having it with you all the time is a great benefit. You don’t have to carry a separate camera, so it’s very easy to capture images of virtually everything happening in your corner of the world. Your photography is apt to improve as you shoot more images, so do so everyday.
Now’s the time to learn all you can about producing the best images possible from your smartphone because the technology will improve…and being an accomplished phone photographer will have value in the world.
Image credit: backyardproduction / 123RF Stock Photo
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