I firmly believe the old adage that the best camera is the one you have with you. The trick to creating great images with your phone, whether it’s on the slopes, in the bike park or sightseeing with the family, is to take your time and follow some simple pointers. —Rory Tucker
CLEAN YOUR LENS
The first thing I do when I am shooting with my iPhone is wipe the lens. Every time. While mobile phone cameras sport many of the same features as traditional cameras, most don’t have lens caps. Your phone is always hanging out with the lint and dust in your pockets or bags. Plus, fingerprints, whether yours or those of your kids’ Angry Birds playing paws, will degrade image quality considerably. A cheap little lens cloth does wonders, but I find the inside corner of my T-shirt does the trick.
CHECK THE FRAME
Use the lines on the screen as a guide to create interesting compositions. But before you get too concerned with the “Rule of Thirds”, use that big viewfinder and take time to pay attention to everything in the frame. Look at the edges, top, bottom and both sides. Make sure you see everything you want in the shot and more importantly look for things you don’t want in there. Moving your angle slightly can rid your shot of distracting items like that tree branch growing out of someone’s head.
TRY NEW ANGLES
Seeing things we’re not used to can be very appealing. We’re drawn to images that differ from what we normally perceive. So try a new perspective. Look for a typical scene, then purposefully shoot it differently than you normally would. Crouch down or get up high and change your angle. Get in closer or play with cropping. Look for negative space, unique textures and experiment with filters. Also, use the low key nature of a camera phone to your advantage and catch your family acting naturally, not just the go-to “pose and say cheese” shots.
FOCUS AND EXPOSURE
Camera phones are quite good at point and shoot. But there are times when you may want to help the camera choose the focal point or exposure. Every phone is different, so search ways you can override the auto settings. By selecting focus, you can create depth and a blurred effect typically reserved for larger professional cameras. And by adjusting exposures, you can lighten faces in shade, darken skies, and bring detail into bright spots like snow.
GET A CASE
The right protective case for your camera is good insurance, especially on a trip that involves snow, water or dirt. There are a lot of options for cases that allow you to take your phone into the elements; some are even waterproof. A good option is Hitcase. It’s waterproof, durable and includes add-on lenses and an integrated connection that makes it easy to mount your iPhone in a number of different ways.
Rory Tucker is a mountain biker, skier, marathon runner, trails advocate, wicked campfire builder and a professional photographer based on the West Coast of Canada with a serious mobile photography habit. See more of his iPhone photos at instagram.com/rorytucker.
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