Using your smartphone as a camera
I am currently taking my second ‘small’ 10 day course in photography with a different aim each day to make you look at the world differently through the eye of a camera. But in today’s world a camera, can be that super dooper SLR. The small compact hidden away in your pocket or more likely the ambiguous smartphone like the current favourite the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with its 12-megapixel, f/1.7 shooter – deemed to be the best dynamic range ever on a smartphone camera (Tech Insider).
The reality is that in most cases, you can achieve excellent photographs without resorting to really expensive equipment that professional photographers have – remember that is their livelihood!
I am going to develop my theme by using a smartphone with its camera. I do not have a really expensive phone, it is now about 3 years old, it is a Galaxy S4 mini which has an 8 MP camera.
The Way Forward
Whilst most of us will not be endowed with the high end smartphone camera, and in consequence we will have to be aware of their limitations, however to get around this we need to go back to basics:
- Composition – think about light, the colours, the lines and where you have placed your subject.
- Join up – most of us take photos to share with others. Join with a photo-sharing group e.g. Instagram or Flickr – connect with friends and other picture takers – get and learn from their feedback, and develop enthusiasm for the camera.
- Check out your camera app, and it’s basic features
- Gridlines to your frame – helps you centre your subjects and gets horizon lines level
- Enable or disable flash
- Set a time
- Adjust exposure level easily
- Lock your focal point and exposure level
- Shoot video
- Know your camera – don’t just read the manual (which by the way you should do!), but practise using the various options on your camera
Develop a great compositional style – check out other photographer, look at the great ones, what doe they have in common ‘A great compositional style’.
- Develop your ability to shape light
- Develop your ability to see lines within a composition – is there a better line, just feet away?
- Don’t crowed all the time – look for space within a compositional
- Frame it! Frame it! Frame it! – Frames can help the viewer to focus on your subjects
- Not everything is black and white! Remember changing your viewing position can change the colour of the picture – try it out and be selective with your shots
- Look for reflections and shadows
- Be aware of the shutter speed, what it does and how your camera may adjust a picture according to its conception of what is good –
- Check your autofocus – sometimes you will need to override it to achieve that shot you know is brilliant
Some ideas for projects:
- Take photographs of yourself, your friends or our family
- Try macro photography – remember that manual I told you to read!
- Get a group of like minded friends and do a photowalk through your town or city – do this once a week
- A-Z – working your way through the alphabet, choose a place and try to find three or four subjects that match the letter of the alphabet.
- Choose something, a word, a theme, a feeling etc. and try to get a collection of photographs to match that theme.
- Go B&W instead of colour – what difference does that make to your pictures?