Phone cameras are great, right? Yes, they certainly are and they can take amazing photos. But they could take even more amazing pictures without any special gadgetry or functions. How? Well, this is where you come in. All the auto-focus, face detection, object tracking , blah, blah, blah, in the world won't help the composition of a shot. In other words it'll only take a picture of what you point it at. If you have a great eye for composing an image then great, keep doing what you're doing!
For the rest of us, who sometimes need a little inspiration to make things a bit more interesting, here's something that might be worth trying.
Now lockdown is easing and we can get back out into the world a bit more, we can look at old favourites or new scenes in a slightly different way. We see everything at eye-level (no surprise there!) so we're quite used to how everything looks at approx 1.5m or so from the ground (unless you're extremely short or tall!). So why not change your point of view? Change the height and / or angle you're looking from. We're always told to "look at the bigger picture" but how about looking at a much, much smaller picture? If you're now thinking "what on earth is he on about?" allow me to explain...
Standing at up and looking down from eye-level may not be the most interesting angle. As this indistinct patch of bluebells shows.
So how about if we change our position and get down to ground level? So let's give it a try...
Not only do we get a better view it also adds in some background which gives it some context, some depth. We can get in nice and close to pick out a bit more detail too. How close you can get will depend on the minimum focusing distance your lens will allow. But most phones let you get in pretty close. You might need to be a bit careful with the point of focus but usually if you tap the screen on what you want to focus, the phone will then lock on. One thing to avoid is zooming with your phone's digital zoom to get in close.
There are two reasons not to do this, first it is much harder to keep your subject in focus as any slight movement of your phone will be amplified. Even if you can hold you phone steady by propping it up or mounting it on a tripod etc., it's still best avoided as the image quality will be far worse. If you are struggling to focus close up, maybe because
you're too close for the minimum focusing distance of your phone, move back a bit and then crop the photo in afterwards so you keep the resolution and don't lose any image quality.
That way you get to keep all the detail, such as the water droplets (and the bug!) on these primroses. If you want to get really low to the ground turn your phone upside down so that the lens is only a few millimetres off the ground.
Another nice effect is to ignore the rule about having the light behind you. All three of these close up flower shots were taken facing into the sun. This gives a beautiful backlight to your subject and makes translucent objects, such as petals, almost glow.
Just as we don't pay attention to what is going on around at low levels, similarly we don't tend to look up very high either (which is why the supermarkets put all the stuff they want you to buy at eye-level!) So try have a look up. And I mean right up - not just a few degrees. You could even combine the two. You could get down to ground level and look straight up. The view will look very different to what you are used to seeing. You can even mix it up by rotating the image too. One huge advantage that phones have over conventional cameras is their size. They are super thin!! The photo below looking up at the tree from under the grass could only be done with a phone because you can get it under the greenery at ground level.
Conversely you could try looking straight down. Just think how enthralled we are these days by the images you can get from drones (well, I am anyway!). Don't have a drone? Maybe you have a selfie stick? Extend it as long as will go and point your phone straight down. On the subject of selfie sticks, they're great for getting your phone into all sorts of places up high or down low - out across water too!
These are just a few simple examples to show how different our normal world can look. The beauty is there's no hard and fast rules, just experiment and see what you can come up with.
If you have any other tips you'd like to share please leave them in the comments.
I'd love to see what crazy and interesting pictures you capture!
For the record, all the images in this article were taken with my trusty old cheapo phone with no post processing.