Date : 08-12-2020 | Author : Leo
It wasn’t too long ago that mobile phone cameras were disregarded as low quality and complicated to achieve good results—but over the last 10 years a lot has changed. Current phone cameras, especially those found in top-tier smart phones like the iPhone, can compete in quality and resolution with larger cameras regarding both photographs and video—and even surpass them when considering the photographer’s mantra “the best camera you have is the one with you”.
But, of course, as it’s a tool you still need to learn how it works to get the most out of your mobile camera—here are some tips and tricks to give you a head start.
Before snapping any photos or pressing record it’s important to get to grips with your ideal settings and best practices. Of course, these can change depending on your usage, but these will have you covered for most cases.
It may seem obvious, but don’t be afraid to hold your phone in landscape or in portrait depending on your subject. Portrait is well suited to individual faces or items, but landscape is often more versatile when including various subjects.
If your subject is stationary, or you are taking a static video of yourself consider using a tripod—or any equivalent you can find. If you have a tripod with a mobile phone adaptor you gain a little more flexibility, but even if you don’t you have tonnes of options. Whether it’s piling up books, standing the camera against a wall or anything you can think of, stabilising your video can help image clarity while also freeing up your hands.
If your video requires a moving camera don’t be afraid to pick it up and move around with it.
The greatest tip here is to not grasp your phone too tightly. When holding the phone tightly you increase the chance of many sharp, jagged movements which are unappealing. Instead hold the phone more loosely, using your entire arm, not just your wrist, to guide its direction.
And remember, whenever making any movements think about the image—try to make slow, steady, sweeping motions when panning or tilting to reduce jagged moments in the video.
Instead of pressing the phone screen to take pictures, or begin a recording, consider using the shortcut of the volume button as if you are already gripping the phone, this can act as a much more stable alternative. Do note that this may vary between phone models, although most modern handsets will set this as default.
Although modern iPhones have the capacity for 2x optical zoom—a type of zoom which retains all camera quality, compared to digital zoom which does not—it’s often best practice to move the camera instead of zooming.
Not only can this introduce the opportunity of better framing, but it will also ensure that you don’t go into the realm of digital zooms, where quality (resolution) quickly begins to drop off.
Flash photography is far more complex than consumer devices make it out to be, little attached flashes like the one found on the iPhone often ruin exposure and create extremely artificial images, so just turn it off and instead…
Using a camera is using light as a material, so lighting your scene or subject is incredibly important. Whether it be yourself, someone else, or an object make sure to get it well lit. This could be done with artificial lighting, by bringing a lamp in closer, or more naturally by moving closer to a natural light source like a window.
However you do it, in most circumstances you’ll want your subject to be the brightest part of the image, as to naturally draw the eye of the viewer, while also displaying all the glorious detail of the subject.
As you get more comfortable with lighting your subject you can also begin to experiment a little more with lighting your background, creating hair lights and crafting perfectly lit image.
Once you have found the perfect lighting, it can be useful to lock the exposure and get the subject in focus. This, basically, ensures that the camera’s settings itself won’t adjust the image any more through digital manipulation of light. To do this, on an iPhone, you simply need to tap and hold a part of the image for a few seconds and the message “AE/AF LOCK” will appear at the top of the screen.
While you will want to do this for static shots, you may not want to do this if the camera is moving as it will likely result in incorrect exposure and the subject falling out of focus as you move around the scene.
If you’re photographing or videoing a person (even if that’s yourself!) ensure that they are comfortable in where they are and what they’re going to do. This can help to avoid needing to re-take the photo/video many times which can lead to unnecessary frustration, on both sides of the camera.
Now that you’re able to take a competent image, you can consider some more advanced photographic tips to take your images to the next level.
Although the built-in photo/video app is fantastic, a third-party app gives you far more control. Using such an app allows you to manually control all the usual camera settings—f-stops, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and more.
If you’re unsure of these terms, or are looking for quick solutions to take photos and videos these apps might not be for you, but if you’re looking to gain full control over that mobile camera they’re worth considering!
Hight Dynamic Range (HDR) is a digital camera mode where your camera will take two three images and merge them to produce an image with brighter highlights and deeper shadows than would be possible in one single snap.
This mode thus provides an added richness to images, especially landscapes or scenes with high contrast.
Portrait Mode is an iPhone feature, however other brands do have similar offerings. This feature artificially creates depth of field, making one part of the image in focus while blurring the background.
This mode is fantastic for taking close shots of individuals or objects as it really highlights the details in them and focuses audience attention.
So, if you’re taking a single-subject photograph from relatively close-up, consider switching on Portrait Mode to see the fantastic results.
Any photographer or videographer will tell you that the image is made in the edit. As such, consider editing your images after to draw the most out of them. This can be done either in app—most smart phones offer excellent out-of-the-box photo editors—or through a third party app (on the device or a computer).
By increasing the contrast, changing the saturation, shifting the colours and adding filters you can really enhance the mood of an image to bring out the best in it.
Beyond these tips, there are thousands of tips, tricks and ‘rules’ of photography which can help you produce much more aesthetically appealing images. These will, again, help take your mobile-phone photography to the next level, so if you’re getting serious about it consider taking some tips from the pros!
If all these tips boil down to one thing, it’s to always think about your images before taking them—think if they could be better in any way with the tools, time and space at your disposal. With that, and all the tips we have discussed, in mind your iPhone photography skills are ready to be put into practice—go and get shooting!