Hi I’m Kamil Kawczyński. I am better known as 9_Destiny. I’m taking mobile shots since last year and I would like to share my knowledge with you. At start I would like to apologize for my English. In some parts of this article you could find some mistakes. Let’s get started.
Tip number 1. Playing with Exposure.
Exposure is one of the most important photo settings in each phone. Different levels of exposure could bring significantly different results. The rule of using correct exposure level is quite simple: When we have strong sunlight it’s better to decrease EV to – 0.5 or – 1 value. (It’s not a strict rule and we’ve got some exceptions) All of this in order to achieve more attractive colours and saturation of our pics. Instead of post processing most of your shots from mobie phone try to learn how to set the exposure correctly. You will save a lot of time spent in front of the screen of your computer editing your own pics. Lets have a look at some examples.
Here we have a picture of stone bridge during daytime. Using automode, the shot was overexposed a bit. You may notice that especially when you are looking at stone railing of the bridge. I had to decrease value of exposure to – 0.5 EV to aim the best result.
Another example showing benefits of decreasing exposure is next pair of shots. I was standing on that stone bridge (shown in two previous shots) because I waned to capture small lake which was in front of me. At first glance shot taken with automode looks quite good but wait; there’s something wrong with it. Look at the sky above the line of threes. It’s completely overexposed.
I’ve seen hundreds of shots with overexposed, white sky taken during sunny weather. Most of authors of that shots could avoid such effect by simply decreasing value of exposure before taking the shot.
Lets reduce our EV to – 1 value. Now look at the sky. Voila! We’ve got blue sky
Here we’ve got the sunset. I wanted to achive warmer colours that they were in fact. I also wanted to aim the shadow lines of that bridge in front of me, so I had to decrease exposure to maximum of – 2 EV to reach such effect. Here’s the result.
Proper value of expose depends on current light conditions and your vision of what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to experiment with EV.
Tip number 2. Experiment with white balance.
Also white balance could be useful if we want to aim original results. I encourage all of you to play with white balance as well. Changing it by purpose could bring great results.
Lets have a look at example below. This shot was taken during last autumn. We have side warm lightning here. First pic is made with automode.
Second one was taken with cloudy white balance. I’ve changed it by purpose because I wanted to achive warmer colours of setting sun effect despite it was afternoon. If I had decreased EV value instead of white balance my pic would be too dark.
One more pair of shots. First taken with automode. Second with cloudy WB.
What about when we’re going to snap some nigh shots. Again – it depends on what effect we want to achieve. Here’s a difference between incandescent and fluorescent white balance in practice. I suggest using it only in artificial light. When we want to “warp up” our night shot we need to use incandescent white balance. When we want to “cool down” our night shot we need to use fluorescent one. Here are some of examples and the difference between them:
Manipulating with white balance could bring interesting results. Use that opportunity, and experiment with it.
Tip number 3. Use manual ISO settings.
The smaller value of ISO we’ll chose the better result we’ll get. Especially in night photography. These three pictures were taken at night. First one with small manual ISO, second one on auto mode. The third at nightshot mode. Can you see the difference between them?
As you can see higher ISO generates larger grain. It doesn’t look very nice. First shot simply looks better. What shall we do if there’s not enough artificial light around, and picture with lowest ISO value is simply too dark? Use Xenon/Led Flash to light the subject of your shot. If the subject is too far away from you and flash doesn’t make the difference try to find fireworks photo mode. It’s lengthening shutter speed, letting in more light inside the camera with small value of ISO.
Lets see what will happen when we’re going to use lowest ISO value and tripod then tell me how many bricks contains this Cathedral
The lower ISO we’ll use the better night shot we’ll get. Low ISO guarantees better detailed shots without such huge “grains effect”. As a curiosity shown by pictures above I want to mention that in most mobile phones automode presents better quality that dedicaded nightshot modes and manual setting are better than automode
Tip number 4. Bring bad composed pic into a new life.
Simply crop it to aim a better composition…
Tip number 5. Keep in mind: Rule of thirds.
What is the rule of thirds? It is a rule invented by artists as an aid to composition has been adopted by photographers for the same purpose. This was also known as the Golden Ratio during the times of Ancient Greece. It was a rectangle where the length of the shorter side was about two thirds of the longer side.
The rule of thirds is generally used to expose the topic or theme of your shot. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.
As you can see in this picture, the main topic is the beautiful city, so it occupies the last two rows of segments or equivalent to two-thirds of the whole photograph.
Tip number 6. Use photo accessories dedicated for mobile phones.
There are quite many accessories which u can buy at online stores. Any kind of additional equipment could be very helpful. You can find all of these extra stuff at photojojo.com. Lets have a look at some examples.
Tip number 7. Be creative.
Try to snap unusual pic. Small size of the lens in comparison to digital cameras could work in your favor.
Holding phone in your hands and pretending that you are writing a SMS could bring suprising results. Just do not overdo with the creativity, if someone does not wish to be photographed
Tip number 8. Use mobile photo apps.
No matter what phone you’ve got. With Android, Iphone OS, Symbian or WindowsMobile. There a lot of photo apps which you can use to create unusual pic. Topic of photo apps deserves an additional article. Lets look at examples of two of them for now.
Pro HDR camera is an app which allows to make something like HDR shots. Application is mixing 3 shots of different exposure levels into one shot. It also allows to edit your own pics. I encourage you to experiment with EV values because they could bring completely different shots.
Camera 360 is an app which contains a lot of different photo effects like Lomo, HDR, Sketch, Fish Eye, Tilt-shift e.t.c. My favourite one is an effect called “B&W Visual Storm” Here are some examples:
Tip number 9. Look for Inspiration. Plan Your Angles & Locations.
When I’ve started my adventure with mobile photography I used to shoot photos of pretty much everything and everywhere. I remember correctly when I was strolling through one of the most representative streets in Warsaw. I’ve made about 250 shots during 3 hours. I also remember how excited I was to see all of them at the screen of my laptop. You can only imagine my disappointment when I realized that none from those shots was good enough to boast of.
Since that day I decided to have precise plan of what I want to capture. Initial vision of what I’m going to shoot. Predicted weather and light conditions. Technique which I’m going to use to hold only the special frames into memory of my cell phone. Finally; photo accessories which might be helpful or not. From that memorable day I’ve stepped into higher level of making shots. I’m taking much less shots that I used to and I’m more satisfied with the results than never before.
Learn from your own mistakes, experiment with manual settings, draw right conclusions. Keep looking for inspiration, plan what you want to capture. These are my advise to you. If you are looking for more inpirations maybe you will find some of them in my Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/76005239@N06/
Keep shooting don’t struggle. Thank you.