Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cellphone Photograph | Tips, Tricks & Image Making

In this tech age world of ever growing megapixels and hefty awe inducing dslr gear I am here to make a stand for the humble cellphone camera. Now, 4 to 5 years ago this conversation would be  irrelevant but that little dot on the back of your cellphone has come a long way since then. In fact, beyond snapping a photo of your morning meal and a quick makeup selfie in the bathroom mirror, you can take some very blog worthy images using nothing more than your phone.



THE BASIC PREMISE
My current device is a Samsung Galaxy S3, which due to certain technical details, I have chosen over the ever popular iPhone option. It features 8MP in the front with auto focus (as well as tap focus), flash option and a self timer. For regular everyday lighting conditions, any camera with 5-6MP is a good start. Up to a certain threshold the megapixel isn't going to magically give you exceptionally better photographs but one aspect that you should look into is the aperture specifications (mine is f/2.6). This will determine how much depth of field you can achieve to give you more control between foreground and background in multi-layered photo scenes.

Now let's get into some nitty gritty examples, all of which were taken with my cellphone camera to illustrate some ideas to keep in mind as you snap away.



LOOK FOR SHAPES & CONTRAST
While there are many approaches to creating an eye catching image, the easiest place to start is looking for setup that give yous maximum contrast and to let the shape of your subject define the image. This is where the metering mechanism on your cellphone camera can be manipulated to great effect as it will often auto-adjust brightness depending on your point of focus. For this image (above) my daffodils were actually in front of a beige wall but with the direct sunlight streaming through the window to the top right corner. I tap focused on the flower which caused my camera to expose for the flowers while leaving the background completely black.


LOOK FOR MOOD & ATMOSPHERE
This is the exact same setup and background as the last image but this time I used a reflector (any shiny foiled surface will do) to create a ray of light on the left hand side to counteract the sun light from the right. I tap focused on the front flower that was not in direct full sunlight which prompted the camera to give a more balanced exposure reading. Then with an in phone app, I merely faded the image a little to give a more moody appeal.


LOOK FOR SATURATED COLOURS
Put harmonious colours together and you get a feeling of calm. Put bright contrasting colours together and you get an image that really grabs your attention. Sometimes you just happen to be in the right setup but you can create this scene like I did by putting down some hot pink tissue paper to bring out the yellow in the daffodil.


LOOK FOR MOVEMENT IN YOUR FRAMING
Natural objects such as trees and plants can be great subjects because their leaves and branches create direction and movement in your image. The various thick and thin branches create lines that the viewer's eye can follow when looking at your photograph, going from one area to another. If we break this down by isolating the foreground or these two clusters of flowers, the branch on the left actually leads the eye into the image while the the branch on the left leads the eye out in a fluid movement.



LOOK FOR LAYERS IN YOUR IMAGE
What most people tend to love about fancy dslr cameras is their ability to create a bokeh effect, otherwise known as the 'fuzzy background' but this can easily be done by many camera phones as well. Remember the aperture specs I mentioned earlier? This helps to determine how much depth of field you can create between your closest object and your farthest object. My camera was able to capture the fine sand grain details in the glass bottle while fading out the background.

These days while I still squeal over the latest releases by the big name camera companies, I've grown a real appreciation for the convenience and the surprising quality produced by my cellphone. In fact, not only do I use them for Twitter and Facebook pages but they have made their way into the main feature of some blog posts as well. Don't forget that your camera just is a tool through which you are the composer, creator and editor of your photographs.

Have a great cellphone photo tip? Do share it below!


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