The majority of people on this planet have a phone and pretty much all of these phones have a camera built in so, here we will talk about how we can use the embedded camera to take awesome photos. I will be focusing on an iPhone 7 because that is what I have but the same principles pretty much apply to most smartphone cameras.
A Quick Recap
We know photographs require light, some kind of composition and a steady hand. Follow the links to read more, but these three things here will set you up for a nice photo. A fourth thing could be a plane ticket to Iceland to photo a nice geyser but that is a nice accessory (one day – in my dreams hehe).
We will assume that we have no apps installed to manipulate the inbuilt camera and no add-on lenses, just the raw phone, and camera.
iPhone and the Hidden Grid
Is there a grid for the camera so we can get an idea of our rule of thirds? Yes, there certainly is. Go into ‘Settings’ -> ‘Camera’ and there it is. Turn it on, close the settings panel and test the camera. One useful grid to help with composition.
The Technical Bit
The aperture on the iPhone is huge,f1.8 which means a lot of light gets in. This, in turn, means that the shutter speed can be slower thus reducing the chance of a blurred photo. What this does not mean is that the effort for a sharp photo can be neglected. Always support and keep any camera as still as possible.
Let Us Try
The grid is on, we are outside and we want to try our hand at a few shots. Remember, what looks good on a little phone may not be quite what you expect when you look again on your PC.
- Get the phone supported by a solid object
- Clean the lens on the back of the phone, remove fingerprints etc
- Turn the grid on
- Get the horizon level on the screen
- Use the grid to align your object on one of the crosshairs of the grid. Try not to center every object in every shot
- Check the background, make sure it is not overpowering or full of all sorts of distracting clutter
- Look where the sun is, be aware of light.
- Don’t zoom in, get closer if you need to
- Take the picture by gently touching the screen, gently
The list items here are very similar to what you would do with a full DSLR camera, that is because the same guide/rules apply. There is no reason why a camera photo should be any worse than a DSLR photo. Composition, light and a steady hand. Just because it is your phone does not mean that the rules for taking photos do not apply. Assuming you want good photos.
What iPhone cameras are particularly good at is the macro shots, those close-ups of objects. great for posting on Instagram.
Cameras on smartphones are now usually high quality. They really can take amazing photos, comparable to a DSLR camera. It is the operator that will need to keep up with the camera. The rules for composition, light, stability still apply to a camera phone. A little tripod could be a good investment for those really sharp shots.
Follow the links out of this page for articles on lighting, composition and general tips.
All photos in the article were shot using an iPhone.