February 17, 2012

How to take a snapshot with your mobile phone.

shooting with a mobile phone. Zoom in and check your focus after the shot.

Take a look around at the massive (and growing) world of mobile phone photography, and you’ll see some astonishing work. There’s the stuff Chase Jarvis is shooting. There’s the moody work of David Koslowski.
And then there’s, uh, this.

Great photographers already know how to make great photos, whether it’s the latest D3, a plastic Lomo camera or a Galaxy S. The last one in that list is particularly important because when it comes to the average snapshooter (likely you and me), mobile phone cameras are changing the way we take pictures.

Shoot ‘em faster, share ‘em faster. That’s the beauty of taking your iPhone out on an adventure. Of course, if you spend any time with your phone as a camera, you quickly realize that most flashes are suspect, low light performance is grainy and it’s easy to go nutty with a few too many filters (anybody else remember typeface-happy “designers” from the early ‘90s?). These aren’t really problems, they’re aspects of the medium, things to accept and tweak.

That said, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to take better photos. Here’s five things worth considering:

Rules of photography still apply
Good composition is good composition – no matter what kind of photos you’re shooting. Start by understanding “Rules of Thirds” and get in close to your subjects for more effective portraits.

Find enough light or get comfortable with grain.
Shooting your friends without a flash at the birthday party is a dodgy prospect – the photo isn’t going to look great. But maybe that’s ok. Maybe that’s part of the look you’re going for. Want something a little more like the results you get form a point-and-shoot camera? Be somewhere where there’s light (near a window works for people) or get a tripod (for landscapes).
Don’t get nutty with filters.
So many choices, why not use them all? Because they don’t look good, that’s why! Remember when desktop publishing and web design became all the rage and everyone was using the garish and the blinking? Don’t be that guy. Pick a filter or two at a time and see if you can get them to work in some interesting ways.

Get better at holding your camera, er, phone.
Most people hold their cameraphone the wrong way when it comes to taking photos. An extended arm two feet in front of you means your hand is probably shaking. If you’re shooting in low light, the camera compensates by giving you a longer shutter speed, which means – ta da – that your shot is blurry (see above). Become a human tripod and your photos will be sharper.

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