I snapped this picture of my daugther with an iPhone. It’s obviously not nearly as nice as DSLR or even point-and-shoot photos, but, as my photographer friend puts it, the best camera is the one you have on you.
Like any photography, phone photography comes with a learning curve:
This is the first photo I took with my iPhone. It’s terrible, even for a phone camera.
The top photo, on the other hand, is one of my most recent. Notice better colors, exposure, decreased noise, and the absence of facial distortion like in the bottom one.
Long story short, here are a few things I figured out along the way:
While light is everything in photography, choosing the right light source is especially crucial when you are shooting with an iPhone. Scattered natural light, available on overcast days and in open shade on sunny days, is best for on-the-go portraits since it softens facial shadows. Compare how different light sources affected these two photos:
Direct sunlight results in extremely harsh shadows (they have been somewhat softened here through the application of an Instagram filter that tends to lighten shadows).
In the above photo, my baby was in the shaded area of the room not far from a large window on a sunny day. The exposure is better and the shadows are softer.
Consider the angle of the light, too. Try moving around and shooting your subject from different angles to see what turns out best.
Good, even light will also result in truer colors and less color noise (i.e. grainy “texture”).
Any motion photographed with an iPhone camera will translate into a blur because this camera is not able to slow down the shutter in response to the subject’s movement. The best thing to do is to wait for the subject to be still and to steady your phone as much as possible (by placing your elbows on something stationary, for instance).
You may have noticed that facial close-ups often come out distorted, with the subject’s face appearing swollen and unwell. Like this one here:
Yikes! Poor baby.
Fortunately, all you need to do to fix this is simply take photos from farther away, like I did here:
Ahh, much better.
Lastly, imperfect iPhone photos can be much improved through the application of Instagram filters. Instagram is a free iPhone app that you can download and use to process photos with only a couple of clicks. Each of the so-called “filters” applies a particular effect, and some filters also add a neat border. Different filters work better on different photos, so make sure to try them all! You can also use Instagram to selectively blur out certain areas of a photo, which is great if you are trying to mask some peripheral blur due a moving subject. (I also found some of the filters to be a great way to improve facial redness.)
Another cool thing about Instagram is that it allows you to automatically upload photos onto your flicker account, which works great for me as a blogger, as well as email and/or share them on social networks, including Instagram’s own social network.
Here are some examples:
This filter increases contrast sharply (which also results in greater color saturation).
This filter lightens shadows and reduces contrast and saturation, making it great for fixing facial redness, which is something that happens with baby photos.
Here is another one of these.
Above all, take lots and lots of photos and delete anything less than great without hesitation.
Unless it’s something like this:
Because, truth is, not every sweet moment can wait for perfect exposure.