CAMP 2013: Mobile photography

Consider using the rule of thirds in mobile photography.
Consider using the rule of thirds in mobile photography.

By 2013 JAWS Fellow Jackie Zubrzycki

Does just having a smartphone camera make you a photographer? Jackie Spinner’s answer was, definitively, no, but she shared a number of smartphone apps to help wannabe photographers get a little closer.

Smartphone camera cons: The resolution and lens on a smartphone camera is still not equivalent to a more professional camera, though the iPhone 5 and 5s do better in low light and have better apertures than older phones. Jackie suggested NEVER zooming on a smartphone camera and avoiding using the flash, because this will hurt the quality even more.

“Zoom with your feet.”

Smartphones also tend to get blurry if you’re capturing movement.

Smartphone camera pros: They’ve improved a lot, and you probably have it on you! Jackie demonstrated how she has used the phone to take pictures while pretending to talk to someone so she could capture photos in difficult situations. A smartphone photo from Hurricane Sandy made the cover of Time Magazine.

“What you have when there’s breaking news is the best camera.”

A quick primer: Good composition is even more important when you’re using a smartphone. Use the rule of thirds. Don’t center the object of interest in your photo; imagine a grid dividing your photo into thirds, and station the object of interest at one of the intersections there. That’ll draw your audience’s interest into the photo.

[photo caption: trying to use the rule of thirds…]

Jackie suggested never using the native camera app on your phone. Also: “journalists don’t use filters,” so don’t rely on Instagram. Here’s what she suggested using instead:

Smartphone photo apps (not free, but cheap):

For iPhone:
· IPhone Procamera: This allows you to focus, stabilize, and balance the photo. Results in higher-quality photos than the native app.

· Filterstorm: This is an editing app. It’s still preferable to edit on a computer with a larger screen, but if you can’t, Filterstorm has many of the same options as Photoshop.

· Slow Shutter: This helps slow the shutter speed and reduces blurriness.

· HUELESS – allows you to shoot in black and white

For Droid:

· Camerazoom fx: The equivalent of ProCamera. Allows you to take higher-quality photos.

Other tips: sells gear and equipment, including a clip to attach a smartphone to a tripod.

If you need tutorials on any of these, Google is your friend. Also, you can play around – they’re fairly intuitive. and also offer tutorials.

Jackie recommended checking out the photos of Koci Hernandez and Dan Chung to see what a smartphone can do.

The best part of smartphone photography? “We’re all in beta,” and there’s plenty of room for experimentation.

Here’s a list of tips from CNN to be a better smartphone photographer.