Tuesday 22 March 2011

How to take fantastic photos with your mobile phone

Yup - seriously, you CAN take fantastic photos with your mobile phone nowadays. Don't believe me? Read on.

Just about all (smart) mobile phones have pretty good cameras in them nowadays and more and more people take more and more photos with them. In these tiny cameras there is hardly anything that you can set manually, though, so the only way that you can put your own skill and vision into the photos you take is to consider the composition of your photos.

Here are some pointers for taking more impressive and inspiring pictures with an all-automatic camera:

Tip no. 1. Use framing

This means introducing some kind of framing element at the egde(s) of the shot, normally something that is in the foreground of the scene. It will give your photo a sense of depth and dimension, and the scene a reference point. If you take a photo of a beautiful sunset, for example, a simple photo of the sky can look quite flat and uninspiring:

Compare to the next photo where I included some branches in the foreground to frame the photo with. Immediately it gives the scene more depth.

Reeds in the foreground give more interest in this photo.

This photo would be very boring without the beautifully silhouetted tree framing the setting sun.

You can go even further and fill the whole frame with a "see-through" foreground subject

Tip no. 2. Use 'rule of thirds' in composing your photo

You'll make your photos much more interesting by not placing the main subject of the photo in the middle of the picture, but slightly to the side.

If you photograph a person, place them either left or right of the frame, rather than the middle. If the person is looking away from the camera, leave space in front of the face, to give space for the person to look into. Same rule goes for animals.

A shocking self-portrait, taken with the low-res secondary camera of Nokia N8

Also avoid placing the horizon in the middle of the frame. By moving the horizon to either the top or bottom third of the image, you immediately create more interest and room for the eye to move around the image (which makes it more compelling to look at).

Tip no. 3. When taking photos of pets and children, take the photo from their eye level.

(Avoid having a tree growing out of your pet's head, though!)

Speaking of pets, have fun with them. Take action shots.

Get close.

And every now and then, fill the frame.

See how much more intimate the above portrait is compared to a photo taken from further away and too high up.

Tip no. 4. Get creative and experiment!

One late afternoon when I was walking my dogs in drizzle and quickly disappearing light, I thought I'd see what happens when I take a photo of drizzle with the flash. After a few tries, I got a picture of a magical tree:

Not just drizzling, but raining? Take a picture of your umbrella! ;-)

Foggy days are great for photography, too.

See if you can capture the sun in between the branches of a tree...

Are you convinced yet? There is so much you can do with your tiny little mobile phone camera... and it's great fun to do something new, and be creative. These are just a few very simple tips to help you get going... see what you can come up with and show me your results! Send a link to a photo you have taken, and feel free to ask any questions.

Happy snapping!

(All photos taken with Nokia N8 mobile phone)


Anon said...

What a great article. I take loads of pictures with my Mobile and my Nokia was actually very good but unbelievably my HTC is better than my digital camera at night!

Brighton is a really photogenic place as well with lots of natural frames (the pebbles on the beach, the sealine, the promenade etc)I often forget about some of the rules though. Thanks for a great how-to!

Katariina Jarvinen said...

Thanks for your comment, Joanne! Wow, your mobile is better than you digital camera at night... That's impressive!

Yup, lots of great things to photograph in Brighton, and elsewhere, too! Rules are good guidelines and I believe it's good to know them so that you know when to break them and why, for added effect. Perhaps I'll write another post about that some time soon. :)

Angelika said...

I don't have a camera so started taking pictures with my mobile phone. My old phone was ok, good enough for the odd snap, but I am very impressed with my HTC so will take a mot more from now on.

Thanks for your tips!

Katariina Jarvinen said...

You're welcome! Good to hear that you have started using your mobile phone to take photos with... it's great fun, I can assure you. The more photos you take the more you will get into it. It's good for the soul to have a creative outlet. :)

Anonymous said...

Pls visit dmayo.shutterchance.com to view images taken with My Nokia N8

Katariina Jarvinen said...

Some of the photos have some great detail. Hard to believe that the photos have been taken with a mobile phone!

Fran said...

Wow what a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing. I will definitely be trying these out. I'm not a natural photographer (well is anyone?) but do like to try and take nice photographs for my blog - so this is really useful!

Katariina Jarvinen said...

Hi Fran, good to hear from you, and I'm glad you liked the post! I'll try and find time to write Part 2 with more tips in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, get your camera out and play. :)