Like many stock photography services, iStockphoto has realized it can no longer ignore mobile photography. The service officially began allowing smartphone images last August, joining the ranks of Foap, Pocketstock and other more mobile microstocks.
Now iStockphoto is spreading the word about how to make your mobile photography better with its own list of Ten Tips for Better Mobile Photographs. The tips, which actually number 11 in all, maybe 10 just sounds better, are nearly all applicable to any photographer using any equipment. Though slightly oversimplified, some remind us of the basics like composition and framing, while others call out specific advice for mobilographers. We found them worth repeating here (with the addition of some useful DPReview Connect links to past stories and reviews):
1. Know Your Gear
Understand how your mobile phone camera works and get familiar with its limitations. Yes, it has limitations. Typically these cameras have a limited shutter-speed range and a fixed aperture, so major in-camera exposure adjustments are made by adapting the ISO. The good news is that there are apps to help get around or hack your mobile camera's limitations.
2. Know Your Apps
The right apps can help you overcome the limitations of your device.
Camera+ and Camera Awesome, both for Apple iOS only, have grid tools, levels, image editing and great controls for exposure and focus. They give you robust filters and interfaces for quickly uploading and sharing your images to social media sites.
Also worth looking at: 645 Pro calls itself the 'photography professional's iPhone camera' and aims to offer DSLR-style control for your iPhone.
Slow Shutter can create dreamy long-exposure effects like flowing streams and evening hour light trails, while keeping the high ISO noise to a minimum. (See our review of Slow Shutter and other similar apps.) Editing apps like Adobe Photoshop Express, PhotoForge 2, and NIK Software's SnapSeed (for iOS and Android) give great control and effects. (We also suggest iPhoto for iOS, Pixlr-o-matic and Photo Editor by Aviary.
Always save your images at the highest possible resolution and make copies before you apply any filters. Some apps won't let you go back. Don't lose good shots to impulsive filter decisions.
3. Get the Exposure Right
Your final image will always be better if you get the exposure right in-camera: this is just as true with a mobile camera as a DSLR. Even with all the great editing apps and filters available, exposure fundamentals remain the same. Get it right in-camera, then play with it afterwards.
Small sensor cameras need light! Use the sun, get in the shade, use a piece of paper to bounce light, wait for the right light, use a flashlight or another mobile phone screen as a light source — make use of your existing knowledge to get the best light. Be patient. Use smartphone flash only as a last resort.
4. Composition is (Still) King
Mobile photographs are well-composed for the same reasons as any other photographs:
- Get level — keep those horizons and verticals in check. (Many camera apps have horizon levels and grids.)
- The rule of thirds — is still the rule. Don't always centre your subject.
- Use curves and converging lines.
- Use positive and negative space.
- Make use of complementary colors. Use color patterns and shapes to add compositional interest.
- Watch your backgrounds. Poles growing out of people's heads or lines cutting through them ruin mobile shots just like they ruin any other shots.
- Direct — Don't wait around for the perfect composition to happen (or settle for what you've got). Move things and people. Arrange your frame so that is makes you happy.
- Break the rules! But know why and when to break them.
5. Frame your Shots
Use objects in the foreground to frame the main subject and give depth to your shots. Shoot through windows, mirrors, other objects — framing provides context and adds interest.
6. Change your Perspective
Look for different angles and viewpoints to add interest to your composition. Don't be afraid to get down on the ground or climb a ledge for a bird's eye view. Your camera is way smaller now — take it places.
Get close and focus on the small details, or go wide and give more context and sense of place.
Play with Apps: tilt-shift effects, distortion, and selective focus/blur can add cool variety.
7. Black & White
Black and white compositions work in mobile for the same reasons they do in other photography:
- Removing color can add impact by distilling the image down to its essence.
- Eliminate competing colors.
- Take advantage of backlighting and silhouette.
- Save a noisy or poorly-exposed image.
8. Crop It
Sometimes things happen quickly and you need to react instantly to get the shot — without getting quite enough time to compose. So shoot wider than you need and crop. The resolution of phone cameras gets higher and higher with each generation. There are a lot of pixels, so focus on getting the shot using a full-frame app like Camera+, then edit later.
When you have the time for careful composition, the right crop can change or enhance the context of an image.
Try cropping to a square (like Hipstamatic / Instagram) to add focus to the main subject.
Don't miss DPReview Connect's Simple Photo Tips: Square format images.
If you are a gear-head, there are more than enough gadgets out there to make you happy:
- Get a little mobile tripod with clips for that steady shot.
- There are all kinds of clip-on and magnetic lenses out there: fisheyes, macros, telephotos. Avoid the digital zoom if you can.
- Save money with a little ingenuity and what you have on hand. Shoot through the lens or viewfinder of your SLR or pocket camera — or even a pair of reading glasses
10. Take More Pictures (Or, Shoot, Upload, Repeat)
The advantage of digital photography is that we have unlimited film and instant feedback. The advantage of mobile digital photography is that the camera fits in your pocket. Just shoot it — happy accidents and defining moments happen all the time.
11. Keep an Open Mind
It is your eye, mind, and skill that make you a professional, not your gear. What we're saying is: your mobile device can be a tool for stock production. It isn't necessarily going to replace any of your other tools, but it is an option.
Play, experiment, and see what kinds of images these tools lend themselves to. Take advantage of the intimacy and spontaneity of your mobile device. Have fun taking pictures.
Let's hear from you: Share your own tips for better mobile photography in the comments section below or via our forums.
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 31, 2016
Jan 30, 2016
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has the worst effect on youth mental health.