Special features of smartphone photography – a basic course (part 2)
The first part of the course dealt with the basics of smartphone photography. The second part deals with more specialised features of smartphone photography.
No matter what the marketing bla-bla claims: The digital zoom on the smartphone only enlarges the picture and does not give good results.
Just because there is no optical zoom in the smartphone, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a zoom with you – just use your legs. If you can get a few steps closer to your subject, you will get better results.
Distance and proximity
The panorama function of the mobile phone can be used as a substitute for wide-angle pictures. A panorama doesn’t have to be very wide.
If you want to shoot subjects up close, i.e. macros, it’s easy: Just get up close to your subject with your smartphone; the device will do the rest.
If you want to use the panorama function, it helps to rest your smartphone on something, e.g. a cup. Then you can easily turn it around its own axis without shaking the image.
Keep the camera steady
Smartphones don’t like fast movements. Just keep them steady and don’t try to take pictures while running. Otherwise, the basic rule applies: The more light there is, the shorter is the required exposure time and thus, the more movement is possible.
In the case of artificial indoor lighting, movement is not usually possible.
If you hold your smartphone with both hands, the shot will be less shaky and you will take better pictures.
Light and backlight
Especially when it is relatively dark (for example, in conferences), you should always look for the light. Avoid fast movements and hold the smartphone still.
In the case of backlight, look for a tree, a building, or a person that can act as a light-breaker. Later, you can still increase the brightness and contrast.
Set the focus point
If you tap on the screen, you can set the focus point – both on iPhone and Android devices. This way, you can also define the foreground and background more consciously.
Adjust your exposure
Once you have determined the focus, you can set the exposure on the iPhone by swiping up or down. On Android devices, a scale on the right lets you adjust the exposure.
Using flash in an emergency
Set the flash to manual. Always make sure to keep the camera steady, otherwise the image will be blurrier due to the longer exposure time.
HDR sometimes helps
If you have a camera with the HDR (High Dynamic Range) function, you have more colour depth. This gives more leeway when there are both very bright and very dark areas in the image.
But sometimes this can also cause images to look a little gray or unnatural.
The basics of image editing
It’s impossible to cover this subject in a basic course like this one. But here is a summary of the most important aspects of image processing:
- First adjust the exposure (brightness, contrast, shadow, lights).
- Then select the colour/temperature.
- Now use filters.
- Finally, adjust the focus.
If you want, you can also download one or more image editing apps, but you usually don’t need one.
When it’s better to use a real camera
Smartphone cameras reach their limits in some cases:
- When it’s dark (festival, indoors, family festival)
- For sports and movement
- If you later want to print the image larger than on a DIN A4 piece of paper
- If you need a zoom or telephoto lens (animals!)
- If you want to actively control the depth of field
Professional tip for the end of this session
Pros can break all the rules. But beginners should at least know the basics.
So much for our short course on the fundamentals of smartphone photography. Feedback is always welcome, of course. And if you’d like to hold a Weekly at Ray Sono, just talk to our partner management team at email@example.com.