How to Take Better Mobile-phone Photographs*

In an effort to clarify in my own mind what I'm doing with my mobile phone camera, I've decided to add a few pointers here on how I use a mobile phone to capture what I consider interesting images. If you have no aspirations towards image making with a mobile phone, try this article at 43folders, it has some fun ideas and uses for these gadgets.

First a disclaimer. This is not a recipe to making good images, but rather, a set of guiding principles, and like all good guiding principles, these can sometimes be broken. Also, I'm going to assume you are using a camera with at least 1.5 mega-pixels, today's 2 and 3 mega-pixel phones are more than adequate for small prints.

  1. Mobile Phones Cameras Are Not DSLR's:- coming to terms with the limitations of these cameras is part of the learning process. Drop those expectations and you are on your way to becoming a better image maker, using mobile phones.
  2. Camera Phones Are Stupid:- your eyes AND your brain are what enable you to comprehend and appreciate the world. Get close to things that are important, shift and change your viewpoint, examine all aspects of the viewfinder/screen, try and eliminate distracting details. Get Closer, Get Closer, Get Closer.
  3. Camera-phones Are Legally Blind:- so don't go trying to get them a driver's license, but seriously, you would be surprised how much light IS required to take a photo, without artefacts like noise. Bright sunny days to soft overcast ones are the best times to make images, with your mobile phone. This assumes you DON'T want these artefacts.
  4. You Are Better At Vacillating Than Your Camera Phone:- the fully automatic nature of these cameras is good, most of the time, sometimes, however it is better to under or over expose a shot to get the best results. Take a series of over and underexposed images on your camera if it has the facility to do this, [and you have the inclination and time to do it] you do have plenty of room on your phone's memory storage don't you? Failing that, titling the camera to include or exclude bright areas such as sky can trick the meter into giving a different exposure.
  5. Cheap Tricks Are For Nice People Too:- carry your phone everywhere, most people do. Look around you, if something catches your eye, quietly pull out your camera and take a photo, do that EVERYDAY for long enough, and you will start to see what works and what doesn't. Speaking of cheap if your camera-phone supports removable storage, upgrade it to at least 128meg, that way taking 300+ photos on a weekend away is entirely feasible.
  6. In Cyberspace People Can Hear You Scream:- don't simply assume that images you capture with your mobile must end up as prints, or die a quiet death on your hard drive of your computer. Places like flickr, facebook, ipernity, photobucket, myspace, all encourage you to upload and share photos online, the perfect environment for displaying images made using a mobile phone of any size CCD.
  7. This Is Not A Pipe:- ultimately a photograph is an abstraction of reality, these phone's poor optics and electronic design cannot not replicate the real world, understand and apply this, and you will get some surprising results.

*Thanks to Lord of the Flies, for prompting this article, sorry about the poor writing, just keep asking, keep shooting and keep joking.

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This page contains a single entry by s2art published on July 10, 2007 10:27 AM.

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