Don’t Lug Your DSLR. Smartphones Can Do It.

It’s steeper than it looks. Credit: Tamsin Venn

Do you want to take better photos with your Smartphone? Transform your friends into Alpine or Nordic heroes?

Mark Phillips is a professional photographer.

Mark D. Phillips, a former AP photographer, is used to lugging around SLRs and long telephoto lenses for photographing ski racing. Increasingly, for sheer convenience, he uses an Smartphone to get good high quality shots. Here are some pros and cons of using the Smartphone and tips for how to take better photos, according to Phillips.

  • The Smartphone quality level is about half of your standard SLR so you sacrifice quality. But if you are doing photos mostly on the internet and sharing with friends and family, the clarity will be fine.
  • The phone works best as a wide angle lens. You can take that a step further and turn on the fun panorama feature. Use anchor points on either end to bring the image together.
  • One drawback is not having the use of a telephoto lens (true on the earlier models). Stay tuned for new phones which will have new zippy telephoto features.
  • To compensate for the Smartphone’s lack of depth of field, try to connect the elements of the photo: the skier with a line of trees or throw in a pop of color to give a sense of depth.
  • Use the rule of thirds. Put your subject in a third of the camera, and use the rest as a complement.
  • Mix up the camera angle. Hold the Smartphone down at your knees and get an interesting low shot. No need to bend way down or get on our knees.
  • Fill as much of the screen as you can.
  • The Smartphone has good light values for night photos, but again you are going to lose the depth of field. Use lines for composition to give more of a sense of depth.
Sugarloaf inversion taken by Smartphone. Credit: Tamsin Venn
  • Photoshop tools in the Smartphone rival any of the other tools available for playing with photos. Change the exposure, the highlights, lighten up the shadows and bring some details back into the blacks, or add warmth to take the blue out of the snow. Or, turn the photo into a moody black and white.
  • Most people email their photos to their computer, but if you have a lot you may want to use a cable. (If you turn on the “send to cloud” feature, they will show up on your computer.) Work with the largest file size you have, the more data you have when you resize the better the image.
  • Shoot video with the slow motion feature, then scroll through the images one shot at a time to find the best single action photo.
  • Finally, if you want to shoot your ski tips hanging over the top of Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole, just accept that the Smartphone is going to erase the steepness factor. Then drop in.

Got any tips for taking better Smartphone photos? Share them in the Leave A Reply section below.

Moody day at Deer Valley has been edited with built-in editing tools. Credit: Tamsin Venn

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