Better Mobile Photography

Improve your cell phone photography or How to Take Good Photos With Your Phone ( Part I )

It may seem that at this time mobile photography is the winner in terms of images taken and shared online and some may argue that images from mobile cameras are slowly wining on the print front too.

At the end, the cell phone is a camera that this almost always with you and thus you may end up using it, unlike your DSLR or Mirrorless camera that may sometimes seem excessive to take out with you. So how do we make sure we get the best photos out of our mobile phones?

Most mobile phones can take pictures in a range of 12MP and above. It is important to know that Mega Pixels coming out of a cell phone and those produced from a dedicated camera are not equal even if they have the same mega pixel count. A mobile image sensor is on average 1/2.55 inches across, while the sensor in your camera ( APSC 23.6×15.8 mm ) or (Full frame 36×23.9 ). In simpler terms, the larger the sensor size the better the dynamic range ( the range between the lightest and darkest tones in an image ). The are also other equations in play regarding image size and dynamic range but we don’t need to dive that deep into the subject as it will not affect our photography in this instance.

Even though the dynamic range coming out of a mobile phone cannot stand up to the dynamic range of a dedicated camera we can still take excellent photographs in demanding lighting conditions by implementing a few tweaks and by carefully composing our images. if your mobile phone supports RAW images then you should use this setting. RAW images allow for better highlight exposure control and adjustments in post processing.

Here are a few extreme examples:
This image was taken with a mobile phone, the lighting conditions were harsh ( noon, when the sun was at its peek). It is not the best time of day to take photographs. The dynamic range is adequate even for a print, and more than enough for sharing on social media.

Let’s see how the image looked at in the beginning. The dark shadows are obvious and the highlights are almost lost ( even with a dedicated camera it would be difficult to get back all the details ). So how do we overcome such limitations?
The east way is to recompose the image and/or take a readout from the spot metering from the focus area. ( take a readout from a middle range tones and the composition should be such as to avoid a large highlight area in the frame as much as possible.

Better mobile photography, improve your photography
spot readout from the highlights only.
Google – Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Just Black
Better mobile photography
Better mobile photography, spot readout from a mid range brightness.

Adjusting dark areas:
To adjust dark areas in the image it is best to avoid cranking up the shadows only as this will introduce noise and artefacts in your image. The solution is to raise the exposure for a point or two and then adjust the shadows a few points. This way we brightened the image enough and eliminated the appearance of noise and artefacts which would have happened if we only adjusted the shadows for example ( raised the shadows in order to reveal the dark areas ). Also by only adjusting slightly the exposure we avoided burning the highlights.

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