As the cameras on our smartphones become increasingly advanced with each passing generation of mobile technology, the lines between professional-grade and amateur photography are increasingly blurred. Today, savvy smartphone wielders can snap shots that rival the work of artists who lug around DSLRs for a living. But taking great photos on a cell phone isn't exactly a no-brainer. Rather, it takes a bit of conscientious execution, careful timing, and thoughtful editing to capture smartphone photos worthy of being printed and framed (much less posted on social sites for the world to see). So to help you make the transition from bumbling cell phone snapper to polished and impressive amateur photographer, here's the essential guide to smartphone photography:
Here Comes the Sun!
The number one sin of smartphone photography is shooting into direct sunlight. The number two sin is shooting subjects with direct sunlight facing them straight-on. So seek out mild shade, shoot on overcast days, or find a way to illuminate your subjects with indirect and slanted light.
Optimal Conditions Optimize Photos
Because lighting is such a crucial component of shooting with a smartphone camera, the best photos are taken at times when the light is best. In addition to overcast days, sunrise and sunset are ideal times for snapping shots. So wait until the time is ripe, and your photos will benefit immensely.
Stability is Key
The more stable you can keep your phone, the better your shots will come out. So look for surfaces to rest your smartphone on or utilize a portable mini-tripod. If neither of these options is practical, stabilize the phone with both hands, tuck your elbows into your chest, and steady your breath before shooting.
HDR takes multiple photos in rapid succession and splices together the different exposures to optimize color, contrast, and saturation. Because of this, it isn't an effective technology to use for moving subjects. So only utilize your phone's HDR setting when shooting static scenes, landscapes, and stationary subjects.
Getting Up Close and Personal
In general, it is best to avoid zoom. So if you want to take stunning photos while working within the limits of a relatively rudimentary camera, get close to the subject. Ensure that your scene fills the frame, and always use the tap focus to send the digital focus to the correct spot in the picture. While the auto-focus feature is often satisfactory, consistently using the tap focus will take your photos to the next level.
The Age-Old Rule of Thirds
Whether you are shooting with a professional-grade DSLR, a smartphone camera, or a disposable, the rule of thirds is essential. It is also remarkably simple. Imagine your frame divided into three even horizontal sections and three even vertical sections. Overlay this imaginary grid on the frame before each shot, and be sure to align important horizontal lines (like the horizon, for example) with one of the three horizontal grid lines. Do the same for any obvious vertical divisions in your picture (perhaps a tree trunk or a flagpole), and always position your subjects at the intersection points between horizontal and vertical divisions.
With a little practice, you'll soon be recording moments worthy of sharing. So as the holidays approach, you may even be able to print and frame some of your mobile photos to give out as seasonal gifts. For true photo enthusiasts, there is also a host of portable photo printers on the market today for printing on the go. With better quality and greater versatility than the iconic Polaroids we all wistfully remember, the latest generation of instant photography takes high-quality photo sharing to heights never before possible. In any case, by taking the time to master your smartphone camera, your 'casual' photos will never be the same.(
is a writer for
and a photography enthusiast. Check it out if you want to turn your photos into amazing gifts and greeting card ideas.)
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