Deal 9: Hacking Photography mega-deal
A Guest Post by Sarah from a beach cottage.
Before I got my iPhone I had a Nokia phone with a pretty good camera on it… apparently… but I never really used it much because it had such a long lag on it from clicking the shutter to the picture making it to the phone that it irritated the willies out of me… talk about a way to make you not inspired to shoot with a phone!
Since I moved into the world of Apple though, a whole new world of photography opened up to me… my photos in the beginning with it were pretty dire… now I am right in the swing of it and loving the results.
First of all the best thing about phone photos over fancy DSLR shots is quite purely and simply, ease, accessibility and weight. In my world with 3 kiddos and generally being busy a lot of the time, I don’t have time, although I must say I certainly have the inclination, to get out my big camera, start fiddling around with what lens to use, start playing around with the settings, yadda, yadda, yadda… it’s heavy and bulky and means that I have to have an ugly camera bag with me.
Phone cameras change all that – and having that little baby in my pocket has taken me on another journey with photography, one I certainly did not see coming or expect and one I am enjoying immensely.
Phone photography for me means freedom and capturing moments with my family and things about Australia that I am inspired by that otherwise I would miss.
It was tricky at first to get a good shot though.
Here’s what I have learnt over the last few months:
When I first got my iPhone and discovered the camera I was holding it with just one hand and almost gliding it around… now I hold the ‘camera’ in two hands and with my right hand I ‘click’ the shutter as you would a regular camera…
I also imagine my camera screen as the viewfinder on my big camera – when I first started iPhoneology I was holding the phone out in front of me at a ridiculous angle and doing some strange straight-armed, head back movement, robot style. Now I hold the phone in front of me with both hands and ‘look’ through the screen to what I am taking a photo of as I would with the other camera rather than kinda looking past the phone… I hope that makes sense?
If you want to take something close up actually walk up to it, get close and click. Mmy iPhone loses heaps of quality even with a tiny bit of zooming and it becomes really grainy and pizelated. So I never move the zoom in. Moving from a telephoto lens on a Canon 50D to no zoom on a phone is a big difference and has been great for teaching me about light and my composition comfort zone has been seriously jolted… ahem, still learning here!
The great thing about digital photography is it allows for a lot of attempts and a lot of mistakes. Add to that benefit, the speed and ease of a camera phone and you have the opportunity to take a few shots so one of them will be good. You can just take multiple shots of the same thing and one of them will be vastly better than the others.
I love shooting at the beach with my phone, as you might have gathered and I will sit, with a coffee or on a walk and take a bundle of shots, upload ‘em when I get home and poof delete them right off. Too easy!
But don’t delete those shots you think are no good when you are out and about because often when you get home the things you think looked rubbish on your phone screen actually turn into interesting things on your computer monitor. The first time I got sun flare on my iPhone I was on the ferry to the city and shooting like mad with my iPhone. Checking the images I was a bit disappointed on the quality – they looked really over-exposed, too bright and patchy. When I got them uploaded to the computer later I realised that the elusive fingers of God were all over my pictures.
Light with camera phones is important – the lower the light the more grainy and bad quality it becomes – unless you are taking photos of the sun and the sea keep the light behind you and your subject well lit.
But don’t lose those dark and night time opportunities. Shoot with your phone at night and dusk and see what it produces. I am doing this all the time lately and learning a lot along the way. I love shooting the sky at night – results have been a real mixed bag but are inspiring me to get out there with my real camera and have a go like a big girl.
6. Keep the camera as still as you can because the jitters will make your picture blurred. To keep it still look for something to lean your arm/hand/camera on – this makes a big difference to camera jitters and my phone photos. Keep your hand there for a second after you ‘click’ too just to make sure, in case your phone has a big shutter lag.
The thing I love about my phone is that it is small and easy and you can get get down low and dirty with it or you can point it up and high really easily. Tou can move right on in to a shell or a flower and you can get it into awkward places and positions that a regular camera it would be more tricky with. So move it in bundles of different angles to see what you get – it doesn’t cost a penny.
Also move the angle of the phone as you take the pictur – I have experimented with this a lot with the horizon and the sea… haven’t posted any of the images yet ‘cos it actually looks like I was drunk when I took the photos, ahem maybe there was the odd Limoncello involved in some of them actually… but the shots are really interesting in my own personal photo-taking journey.
I didn’t do this for ages and I don’t do it enough now still. My phone is in my bag, in my pocket, floating about in the car and ultimately has grubby little kiddo fingers all over tit so cleaning it makes a difference to the resulting shot.
All of my phone pictures are processed. I think that is the beauty of phonology, you have the ability to whip that baby out and capture something amazing you see, even though the quality and look might not be what you wanted. Then wham bam thank you mam, technology and a lil bit of foofing gives you a pretty nice shot…
I usually use Windows Live to tweak the contrast, light and saturation etc. It’s normally the light that makes the big difference in shots. I turn the highlights and brightness and often exposure right up. A real photographer would probably shudder at my processing, but the look I like, and hey that’s who I’m doing this for, is overly bright photos.
I also nearly always turn the temperature down. I like my photos on the err of blue and you would never have guessed but I like ‘em pretty white too. You can also do this with an app if you have an iPhone. Qhen I first got mine I went on a serious iPhone frenzy and got a lot of phone camera apps but really none have them have honestly floated my boat that much. Nowadays I just take the photo with the regular phone camera and do the foofing later.
There are a few apps for processing too but I find it fiddly and too small to try and see what’s going on on the small screen of my phone, I much prefer getting them uploaded and doing it on the big screen.
Don’t have too much going on in your photo. One of the reasons, in my humble little opinion, some of my phone photos are still fairly good even though they are pretty grainy and not even in the same league in sharpness and quality as my DSLR camera shots is that there is not too much going on in the photos. This allows you to get away with a lot.
Keeping one main subject and a scene where you want all/most of it in focus are best. As you can see in the photo above, the quality is average to poor and pretty grainy (when viewed at full size) but hey I LOVE the pink sunflare, I love the clouds, I love the sea and baby I captured it… bingo… and that’s what photography is all about for me!
That’s how I take photos with my iPhone, hope these ten tips for phone photography might help you too… main thing though… just shoot ‘em up baby!
Sarah is a busy mum blogging from the beaches of Sydney about her sea-change from the grey skies of London to Australia, she logs the renovation of an old cottage and life by the sea, since picking up an old Powershot that had seen better days when she first started her blog, she began on an unexpected journey with, and new found love for, photography…slowly moving up the camera ranks, she replaced the Powershot with a Canon G10 and soon moved onto a Canon 50d…and nowadays also uses her iPhone when she’s down the beach to capture it all….
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September 13, 2012 01:05 am
I loved a lot these pictures,and i really was thinking to begin using my camera but in a professional way ,then after i implement these tips i will choose the most beautiful image and then i will put in my iphone cover .
im going to be proud and happy whenever i saw this image .
June 24, 2012 07:53 pm
camera phone photography tips :)
May 15, 2012 10:24 pm
I thorougly enjoyed your article and the first thing that I did was clean my iphone lens lol! Excellent tip! Thank you Sarah and DPS.
I currently have iPhone 3g (yep its old!), so I can't wait for the new iPhone due out in autumn 2012 to continue to take beautiful shots. When I have an up to date quality iPhone I may decide to leave my DSLR at home.
Another thing I loved about your article was how much you Sarah enjoyed taking the shots, it wasn't about anyone else. It wasn't about looking for fame and fortune it was the pure pleasure of enjoying what was/is going on around you and capturing it. How wonderful and a real worthwhile experience, and a brilliant hobby. If you get paid for it as well, then that's a blessing! Yay!
April 12, 2012 04:34 pm
Great tips. Thanks for sharing.
See my shots with iPhone4S here http://nikonbaby.com/gallery/iphone4s-photography/
March 7, 2012 01:18 am
Great tips. I love taking photos with my iPhone (even though I also have a 5D for real photo shoots). My 52 week photo project for 2012 seems to consist mostly of iPhone photos so far, because that is what I have with me most of the time during a hectic week. Here is my latest...http://theartisticlife.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/weekly-photo-10/
January 15, 2012 07:38 pm
Looking past the typo errors in this entry, I must say, we share the same passion for using the iPhone for photography.
Here are some photos I took using the iPhone:
I love iPhone 4 and I think it takes better photos than my Nikon point and shoot, but I still prefer my Olympus E-520 if not only it's so bulky!
January 15, 2012 06:44 am
Tim - a shoe box with a hole in it is a "real camera". It's the person holding it that makes it special. I have a DSLR and I have an I-phone. I don't use the I-phone camera often, but when I do I am really happy to have it along. I would have missed some really special moments without it.
If you can't take a good photo with an I-phone, you need better skills, not a more expensive camera!
January 15, 2012 06:34 am
Bing - I loved your project 365! Not sure what it is about it, but it has an interesting "slice of life" quality that made me want to see every one. Nice job!
January 14, 2012 08:57 am
How about making sure that the horizon is level? The author apparently doesn't consider that important and actually posted a couple of images that needed a bit of rotation. This is equally important with a DSLR, EVIL or iPhone.
January 14, 2012 06:20 am
Neat article, I've recently bought a BB Playbook which has an ok camera, so found this of interest, thanks.
January 14, 2012 12:00 am
I love taking photos and even editing on my iPhone. My favourite apps at the moment are: Hipstamtic, Fotoffiti, Pic Grunger and Pixlromatic. You can see some of the effects here:
January 13, 2012 09:42 pm
I have 3 cameras in my lIfe.
I use a Canon 5D every day at work, with extras lens, kit coming out my ears!
A iPhone that goes everywhere with me and i mean everywhere!
And a Sony T-700 Point and shoot
I use my 5D for pro work and use my iPhone for 'everything' else and virtually never touched my Sony again although higher in res, more functions you can shake a stick at and astonishingly good for sun backlit portraits. My iPhone is my world, and my weapon of choice. I can take all the pics i need, save them process them, save the location, send the location, tweet them, email them, txt them, upload them, send them to print, all from a click of the same button i took the picture with, amazing!
More often than not use the Hipstmatic App because its a reliable, expandable emulator of old cameras, lens, films and flashes. it opens up the world to amazing possibilities of present an past photography and a whole world of crazy madness in between, as well as doing a straight and simple quality shot. i thought that mega-pixels mattered, i was wrong. its the capture at that moment that matters. i recently went to a place where photography was banned and severe penalties put in place. I had my iPhone, everybody else put the cameras away! I'm no secret agent but it helps to get the shot!!!
here's just an off the cuff example
January 13, 2012 01:46 pm
I planned to include photos shot with an IPhone in my Project 365. there is an effect that camera phones have that makes it unique. you can check out my shots in the link below.
i'm new to this and appreciate suggestions and especially critiques.
January 13, 2012 01:22 pm
Yes quite interesting post, however I was waiting to see some examples of "the fingers of God" in the flares. My favorite line was about he dirty lens and your tit. However, I don't think you were actually trying to throw that tidbit in for us. As earlier stated by many... Proofread before publishing or use a keyboard to type on, not the phone.
January 13, 2012 12:07 pm
Great tips in the article, especially since I'm basically never without my iPhone camera! :D
However, I think this article needs to be renamed to "9 Quick iPhone Photography Tips"... You missed number 6. o___o"
January 13, 2012 10:10 am
"iPhone Photography" is an oxymoron. Get a camera.
January 13, 2012 06:40 am
Thanks for the tips! I love my DSLR but I found myself shooting so often with my iPhone last year, that I started my Project 365 this year on solely my iPhone - http://www.storyofbing.com/category/project-365/
One more tip I have is to meter with the iPhone by tapping gently on the screen while composing. Tapping on the subject will allow the camera to focus better and meter for exposure and white balance better too. I usually shoot with Instagram and Camera+
January 13, 2012 04:43 am
I just took this night photo with my iPhone (HDR setting on) as part of my 52 week photo project. http://theartisticlife.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/weekly-photo/
Surprisingly, the iPhone gave this nighttime shot a painterly quality.
January 13, 2012 04:21 am
It is also worth barring in mind with the location service capabilities of the iphone you can take a shot and it will store and show you on a map the exact place you took it. So if you are out and about without your main camera gear and you like a shot you have seen while roaming about, its a great way of reminding yourself to go back with all your tools. It helps me remember when I go out on walks etc.
January 8, 2012 10:04 pm
I have been using instagram for all my iPhone photography despite having about a dozen photo apps. Finding it a real focus on composition rather than the technical side. If Anyone else is using instagram I am @flixelpix on there.
January 8, 2012 07:18 am
Great advice, thankyou
January 7, 2012 12:58 am
1. look at itunes for additional apps such as tilt and shift, pro camera-lite and any others you can find. dont always settle for the camera app that came with the phone.
2 use the HDR function if you are not sure of the light levels- you have 3 possible photos to choose the best from. The iphone works well in high light levels, but as said here grainy any where else
3. there is a shutter lag on the iphone, so you have to accomodate it unless you intended to create blur..
4. the iphone like any other mobile phone is greating for scouting locations or ideas which you can follow up with a DLSR. It also allows more candid photos for when a DLSR just plain scares people.
January 6, 2012 09:56 pm
O agree with the article. I have a 60D and an iPhone 4S. And I love to take pictures with both. I think that one of the good things of phone photography for DSLR owners is that the lack of control in the phone ,make us remember why we got a DSLR in the first place. I often take pictures with my phone and after seeing the result, even if they look good, I start thinking what setting on my DSLR could improve it. And when it's possible I also took the same or similar shoot with the big camera to compare. Maybe before I got the phone I would shoot the photo with my DSLR with a similar result to the phone photo and forget to think better the composition and settings.
I think that there is no way that taking more photos could be a wrong think for a photography enthusiast. Experience is always a good thing and working with limitation make us value the possibilities of our equipment.
January 6, 2012 05:52 pm
A good article, but so many typos! :P Isn't there an editor to proof this stuff?
January 6, 2012 09:39 am
I never thought I would be an advocate for using an iPhone for photography. I became interested in Dewitt Jones 'Celebrate What's Right With The World'. I read an article by Dewitt Jones in 'OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER' about how he uses his iPhone with his photography. He has an eBook out called 'iPhone Art in My Life'. After looking at his book I decided to try pursuing cell phone photography. I bought the iPhone because the apps that Dewitt Jones uses were in the iTunes store. I have been having a lot of fun with the camera in my iPhone, most of my pictures I erase those that I really like I put on instagram. I hadn't thought that they would look better on my big screen, something I have to try. I like to shoot close ups, so I've had to learn how to hold the phone in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other. I also have tried to experiment with holding a flash light in one hand. There are apps that allow you to touch the screen any place to take the picture. I hope others use this article and try cell phone photography.
January 6, 2012 08:00 am
Quite a timely post. I'm stretching the scope of this article to beyond Iphones as it technically it applies to camera-phones in general (with comparable megapixels). I take this opportunity to point out that there are many good cameraphones out there and so let those of you who have non-IPhone Cameraphones also use this article.
Even with our DSLRs etc, using digital zoom is to be avoided as far as possible, so also with camera-phones. No surprise there.
My observations with my Samsung Wave mobile's camera has me largely agreeing with this post.
Definitely convenience is the key, as photography is also about photo-opportunity, and there are times you wish you had your "regular" camera with you but if u dont, the mobile-camera is definitely the next best thing, and certainly beats not taking a picture at all. Example: if you are at your friends' home in the balcony and a colourful bird perches just a few feet away from you what do you do......
A) SULK....and mourn the absence of your DSLR? or
B) celebrate the presence of your cameraphone and click it ? Obviously B.
I find the number of photo-opportunities are practically more than doubled. If your phone-camera have auto-focus and about 5 megapixels or more, you are MOST DEFINITELY good to go.
I recommend using on-screen "guide-lines" option in settings to show lines at 1/3rd and 2/3rds of the screen horizontally and vertically. Helps you use the rule-of-thirds.
There are times when you think "aw its just a cameraphone, it wont capture the scene well" and skip it totally. Dont do that, just take the picture and you'll be surprised at the results (sometimes pleasantly so). It may not give you what you were looking for, but it can still give something very nice.
And try out the available scene modes for photos, like beauty-photo, panoramic, etc.
If yourphone-camera has HD video recordingcapability (like my Samsung Wave), then also think about which will do more justice to the scene, a photo or a video.
For lowlight videos (close range) in very dark situations use the flash, it works like a flashlight (although a weak one), and it may be better than otherwise.
For videos, if you have option of slow-motion (like on my Samsung Wave :-) ), YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO TRY IT TO BELIEVE IT. Its quite amazing how beautiful, some mundane / routine scenes can be in slow-motion.
January 6, 2012 04:53 am
I have not been able to locate how to adjust camera settings on my iPhone like you suggest in # 5!
January 5, 2012 08:01 pm
I usually shoot a Canon5D2 for landscapes but just before Xmas I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 ( swapped from an iPhone which I disliked ), this year I have set myself a project of shooting an 365 with just my camera phone. I have discovered there is quite a lot to learn about using camera phones over a big old DSLR units. The two-handed holding and the manual zoom being the two I learned the hard way!
I have to agree with others that in very low light the shots are very, very noisy so I tend to find brightly lit subjects to shoot. It's is a real challenge it's almost like going right back to my first film camera when I was 7 years old.
To all those that dismiss camera photography as nonsense, you need need to try it, it's not as easy as you think. When you have the luxury of a full-frame DSLR with all the gadgets and gizmos you get stuck in a rut. When you move to a tiny little gadget with next to no things to help you out, you really start to look the subjects a little more closely.
January 5, 2012 07:06 pm
I live in Norway. Most of the time it is way too dark to use a mobile for taking good pictures. Sure, an iPhone, or any other mobile with a decent camera, can be used for taking snapshots. But the image quality is under par for most uses, as most are no good in poor lighting.
The best camera is the one you have with you. That is why I often take my best camera with me, my trusted SLR.
And speaking of shutter lag. I have the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, where the shutter lag is almost non-existent. But it is still no good compared to my SLR, or even any compact I have owned the last 10 years really.
January 5, 2012 05:03 pm
I just got a new iPhone 4s myself and the camera is pretty darn good! My favorite tip from this post? Clean the lens! Brilliant...total common sense, but brilliant. Thanks for the tips.
January 5, 2012 04:54 pm
good articles for mobile photography
i have added few other tips
January 5, 2012 08:09 am
Great tips, I'm going to try them on my ipod touch 4th gen (ignoring the bad press for the camera in it) and see how they turn out!
Until the time I can afford an iphone and see what all the talk is about...
...after all the best camera is the one you have with you?
January 5, 2012 05:16 am
you forgot the no1 tip on the iphone! the picture is taken when you RELEASE the button not when you press it, knowing that has helped me soooo much!
January 5, 2012 04:56 am
My good camera is a 7D and I love it, but I agree with the author of the article, where I don't always have the 7D with me, I always have my iPhone. I recently got a couple of small things for christmas that make it even better, the gliff, which is a simple little plastic bracket that fits the phone and allows you to connect to a standard tripod screw (and doubles as a stand for watching movies), and one of the Joby Gorillapods. I went for the small video model which also helps a lot when making, surprisingly enough, videos. I haven't weighed them but I'm guessing together the two items weigh under a pound. I almost always have my messenger bag with me, and they both sit in the bottom unnoticed and unfelt, until I need them. Of course you aren't going to get the quality of shots you get with a dslr, but if you love photography, you should want to ALWAYS be able to take shots when you see them.
January 5, 2012 04:45 am
I am one of those people that are to lazy to take my professional DSLR with me everywhere. Why am I to lazy? Because I am running after two kids and a toddler ALL the time. Not only that but try picking up a toddler with a $3000 camera attached to a $2,000 lens without hitting it on anything. Reciepe for disaster!
I take a little point and shoot with me everywhere as well as my IPhone. I am still nervous about using my IPhone for those important shots of my kids but I can't wait until the quality is as good as a point and shoot so it is the only thing I carry. This has inspired me to download my IPhone pictures I have taken and see what I captured!
January 5, 2012 03:36 am
I used to be quite happy with my Samsung 5 mp camera. I spoiled it and I miss it badly because I agree a SLR is not always feasible. Here are a few clicks from the good old days at Red Fort, Delhi.
January 5, 2012 03:31 am
iPhone cameras are indeed amazing and just what you need sometimes. When looking for quality shots, I prefer my dSLR, but a lot of sunset pictures are made easy & taken beautifully with the HDR setting on the iPhone. Great article & smashing pictures!
January 5, 2012 03:25 am
Thanks for sharing this post! Well said!
I do Car Photography for http://CustomPinoyRides.com
I usually use my DSLR 99% of the time, as with car and motorsports photography, it's really a must. But there's that 1% of the time when the only camera I have with me is my iPhone! But hey, there's this app done by Chase Jarvis called The Best Camera. I've tried a lot of camera apps on my iPhone but by far this is the best and simplest of them all. And since it's done by one of the best photographers in the world - Chase Jarvis, it was created by a photographer, for photographers. You should really check it out. Hope it helps!
January 5, 2012 03:15 am
I would always prefer carrying a little DSLR with a small prime lens (or even good compact camera) then ending up with low(er) quality shots. Phone pictures may work for a sunny day on the beach, instagram pictures or for a snapshot when nothing else is available. But as an amateur photographer who values good image quality, I really don't see the point in having a fancy DSLR but being too lazy to take it with you.
And btw, the use 'iphoneology' is not a valid term for 'taking pictures with the iphone'. 'iphoneography' maybe, but there is no phono in a photo...otherwise it would be called 'video' ;)
January 5, 2012 02:51 am
I agree about the good light. It also doesn't hurt to have a couple of good photo apps on your phone. I like Pro HDR to take the picture and Nik Snapseed to process the picture. Sometimes I do additional processing on the computer, but I usually try to get it all done on the phone. A few of mine are at http://www.msbphoto.com/iphone
January 5, 2012 02:41 am
This is an interesting post but it would be so much more credible if at least the typos were corrected so it didn't look like it was also written using an iPhone...
January 5, 2012 02:34 am
I love the iPhone and all the apps that it has for creating unique photos that you might not otherwise be able to capture. It's camera is powerful for the small package and you're free to upload your photos almost instantly from wherever you are!
I post iPhone specific photos on my blog every Sunday - This one was edited with 100 cameras in 1 and I thought it came out kind of mysterious http://www.phogropathy.com/gazebo/
Thanks for sharing these tips for photographing with the iPhone! I'm a huge fan of #2 as digital zoom is almost never a good choice. You can crop in later if you truly must.
January 5, 2012 02:26 am
I agree that most of the phone apps do not work well with processing. Also, I have an Android phone (Google Nexus S), but it can take great pics. I second everything the writer stated. The convenience is key.
If you have an Android phone, try:
*Camera360 (great effects built in),
*Sensor Camera (on screen composition tools such as the Fibonacci sequence, and Rule of Thirds),
the freebie *Photoshop,
I have captured many pics that would have never materialized had I rushed to get my dSLR.
January 5, 2012 02:13 am
This is a well timed post as the number of iPhones sold recently is astronomical. I’ve been researching photography tips for iPhone cameras and one of the remarkable things is the number of ways to improve, enhance and creatively process and retouch marginally good photographs into great photos. Whether it’s an app for the phone or you do photo editing on your computer later, the potential is limitless.
The technological improvements in cell phones multiplies the possibilities for great photos with camera phones too. It is a great time to be interested in photography.
January 5, 2012 02:10 am
This is a well timed post as the number of iPhones sold recently is astronomical. I've been researching photography tips for iPhone cameras and one of the remarkable things is the number of ways to improve, enhance and creatively process and retouch marginally good photographs into great photos. Whether it's an app for the phone or you do photo editing on your computer later, the potential is limitless.
The technological improvements in cell phones multiplies the possibilities for great photos with camera phones too. It is a great time to be interested in photography.
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