That quote “the best camera is the one that you have with you” (Chase Jarvis) might be a bit cheesy but it isn’t wrong. All of these images are from my 2 year old Samsung Note 5 (smartphone), I had left it a bit late to charge batteries for the Nikon or Sony so the mobile phone was the weapon of choice!
We had rented a dog friendly apartment (Archie loved it!) for the night in the centre of Bath, had a meal at Jamie’s Italian and had a good wander around in the Autumnal sun.

Not everyone has a DSLr or digital camera, but most have smartphones with a camera. So here is a few pointers:

  • To make your images look more like standard images from a camera switch from aspect 16:9 to 4:3, this will drop the megapixels of the phone but snips the image down to an aspect we’re used to seeing. Becoming more popular – Instagram 1:1 (square), I’m a big fan!
  • Modes – Have a look through your menus, you might be surprised! Panoramic, macro, landscape, portrait – its all there and you never know you might like them.
  • Photo-editing apps – we all like a filter or two, you can make an image look ‘more as you saw it’ or boost the image to make it more exciting. Avery is a good app, free, powerful and doesn’t require social media, it saves to your smartphone image folder. Instagram is a fantastic app but can be slightly more restrictive and only lets you post to it’s social media platform which is great if you like and use social media, from here it can be posted to your other social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter etc. With any image editor try not to ‘over cook’ the image, ie over do it on the slider, especially the sharpening. The controls are usually on sliders, it is best to have a play and see what works.
  • Check your settings, look for a slider to adjust the light in your photo. Feeling brave? look for ‘pro mode’ – here you’ll find multiple settings to have a play with. Your smartphone aperture will be set, but you can control shutter speed, ISO, White balance, scene/colour palette. Honestly I’d leave White balance to auto and colour/scene to standard. ISO the lower the number (to 100 or below) you can get away with will give you cleaner, better images as higher ISO give grainy images. The shutter speed can be altered, the slower speeds under 1/50th of a second can be difficult to hand hold. Consider propping yourself against a wall to help steady the smartphone or even better prop it down on a wall. Do not panic! the settings will adjust in real time on your screen to show you the exposure. Not got time? can’t get it? Auto is still an option. 🙂
  • Clean your lens – yes! I’m not joking, a quick wipe to get the dust and general smears off. Better image quality and lessen the possibility of an unusual artefact in the image.
  • Lens attachments, there are many on the market to turn your smartphone into an ultra wide angle, macro (close up photography), fish eye, telephoto (far away objects). I have a set for an older smartphone which are not compatible with this one and modified the camera field of view very well. Note: check the reviews of the kit/product before buying and try to find out if it will affect the image quality dramatically and compatible with your make and model of smart phone.
  • Remember it is not a superhero – all cameras have their limits, smart phones are incredible with the quality of image they can produce. They all share similar weaknesses which are low light performance (detail in higher ISO settings) and dynamic range (ability to hold colour, highlights and shadow details) – it is just worth knowing what your smartphone can and can’t handle.
  • RAW – yes! more and more smartphones support RAW file capture, this may require a more sophisticated image editor like Adobe Lightroom mobile etc. A RAW file is essentially as much detail as your smartphone’s camera sensor can capture. It will look slightly flat in it’s colouring as a file but can be edited much more than the standard file type JPG. Note RAW files are not usually accepted by social media etc. because of the file size, they will need to be converted to JPEG after editing via an app/software.
  • Have fun! go nuts! nail that ‘safety shot’ then have a go with the other settings or a quirky angle.