Take better pictures with your cell phone camera
Nov 12, 2007, 9:56 GMT
Washington - With digital cameras showing up in more cell phones these days, lots of folks are using their phones to record what could be priceless memories.
The trouble is that getting a good picture out of your cell phone's digital camera is more challenging than it would be with a dedicated camera. That's in part because the resolution of cell phone cameras is low, but it's also due to other limitations imposed by the cell phone's form factor and the less capable electronics in most cell phone cameras.
With a little know-how, though, you can work around those shortcomings and end up with phone camera photographs that are worthy of a place in your book of memories.
--- Hold it steady
Tiny cameras such as those built into mobile telephones are especially prone to camera shake. The result of camera shake is blurry pictures - it's what happens when the camera itself moves when you snap a picture.
There are two ways to counteract camera shake. The first is to take pictures only in brightly lit areas. The bright light will allow the camera to use a fast shutter speed - so fast that any movement caused by camera shake will be negated. The second is to use your body as a tripod. When lots of light isn't available, it's especially important to hold the camera phone steady. Try bracing your arm with your other arm - or leaning your body against a solid object. Anything that helps you to keep the camera phone steady will decrease the number of blurry images you take.
--- Watch the light
With camera phones, you have to be especially mindful of where your primary light source is. In order to get pictures in which your subject is not darker than the surroundings, be sure that the main source is behind you or off to the side - so that it's illuminating the front of the subject rather than behind it.
When your main light source is behind your subject - shining at you as you take the picture - your cell phone camera will adjust exposure to compensate for the bright light. The result will be a subject that's much too dark.
With conventional digital cameras, you can often compensate for such poorly placed lighting by using the camera's built-in flash. But camera phones generally do not have a built-in flash, so using your primary light source to your advantage is very important.
--- Get close
Whenever possible, get as close to your subject as possible with your camera phone. When you do so, you'll be addressing a couple of issues at once. First, you'll go some way toward overcoming the low resolution of your camera phone. When capturing images with low- resolution devices, it's important to fill the frame with your subject so that you won't lose even more resolution later by cropping the picture in software to get the image you really wanted.
Second, close-ups often leave more of an impression with the viewer than photographs in which your subject is just a part of a larger scene. Unless your intention is to take a picture of your subject in context, move in as close as your camera - and the environment - will allow.
Also, when you have a choice, get close by moving your feet rather than using the built-in digital zoom on camera phones. Digital zooms work by taking a snapshot of a scene and then blowing it up digitally. That means pixelation and lower quality will result.
--- Pose people
Camera phones aren't speed demons: you cannot take a series of photographs in quick succession. That means that taking candids that are worth looking at later can be especially difficult.
The solution: don't be afraid to set up a scene, including posing people. With camera phones, you often get just one chance to get the picture right before people change expression or grow impatient. Having folks pose and say 'cheese' may sound stiff, but you'll likely end up with photographs later that best represent how you want to remember people.
--- Edit later
Some camera phones have built-in editing features for photographs. Forget those. Instead, download your photographs to your computer and use some photo editing software to modify or improve the photographs afterwards.
Not only is the built-in editing software in camera phones rudimentary at best, but seeing exactly how your photographs are being modified is difficult because of the often inaccurate display quality of the LCDs in most phones.
--- Keep your lens clean
Some camera phones have such tiny lenses that it's difficult even to see where the lens is. But take the time to find the lens on your camera phone, and keep it clean. Cell phones tend to get quite dirty, as they jostle around in pockets, purses, or are handled often. That's bad news for a camera lens, which needs to stay relatively dirt- and dust-free in order to produce the best pictures possible.
--- Use the highest resolution
Some camera phones allow you to change the resolution at which photographs are captured so that you can fit more photos on your phone. Always choose the highest resolution, however, so that you give yourself more options for editing photos later. Digital photographs with higher resolutions will not only print better at larger sizes but also give you more options when editing. Cropping a photograph to emphasize just part of the image, for instance, will be more feasible when you're working with more megapixels.
--- Take lots of pictures
There's no better way to improve as a camera phone photographer than by taking lots of photographs to see what works and what doesn't. Experiment with taking photographs at unusual angles, from up high or down low, and snap off as many shots of a given scene as your camera will allow. One of the great things about digital cameras is that there are no development costs, so learning is fun, easy, and free. And with a take-it-anywhere camera phone, you can get better at photography at just about any time and any place.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur