All photographers go through a lifecycle; those distinct stages from new photographer through to seasoned shutter bug. It definitely happened to me and, looking back, my one embarrassing stage was the camera kit snob stage. I’m not going to dwell on it, but suffice to say, it was a pretty cringeworthy stage for me personally. Now I am not too proud to miss an opportunity just because I don’t have my main camera on me.
Years ago I stumbled upon Chase Jarvis who is, I think, a massively creative photographer. He came up with a common sense mantra, the title of this article. The premise is that we should all embrace the camera we have on us and, hopefully a safe punt, that is going to be your cell/mobile phone.
If you are reading this article, chances are you don’t carry around an ageing Ericsson or Nokia from the late 90s. Personally I use iPhone, but I figured out early on with a few must-do tips, you can come up with some impressive images using just the camera in your phone.
All the images in this article were captured, hand held, with a Nokia 808 Pureview. All image editing was performed in Photoshop CS5 and, apart from black and white conversion, very basic – really, 3 minutes load through to save basic.
Always think about the composition and what you are trying to capture. I’m willing to bet, with SLR and tripod, you put a great deal of thought into your shot, so why should it be different with your phone.
Check out Christina Dickson’s most useful article, breaking down composition into geometric areas.
As with an SLR and tripod, I always try to find a rest or surface to remain steady for the shot. Window frames, lamp posts, benches, trees, girlfriend’s head, etc. It will make such a difference to the resolving power of the pea sized lens on your phone’s camera.
I do edit and publish on the move, so getting it right in shot will get the highest quality up front. Each app you use to edit shots will degrade and potentially resize your images all the more. You have a big LCD, so take a moment to line up and level before pressing the shutter.
Editing: Color and contrast
I don’t think twice that Photoshop will be editing this image for an SLR shot, so the same usually goes for my camera phone shots. It is rare if I do more than boost color and contrast, but it does make for a significant improvement.
Editing: Straighten, Crop
Someone out there always tells me if my images are not meticulously level, so I’ll recheck in Photoshop. If need be, I will crop too – too much sky, half a bird, etc.
Editing: Sharpen, Resize
Use your image editor to make the full size image sharp and then resize down for the internet. I will use a High Pass filter technique in Photoshop.
Camera phone images don’t need to be terrible snaps and with these tips, equally important for compact cameras too, you can definitely open the eyes of those firmly entrenched in the ‘SLR is best’ camp!
Want to learn more about mobile photography? Check out our iPhone Photography eBook.
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