Over the past few years, a quiet revolution has taken place – in your pocket! The camera on your average smartphone now has the ability to take really inspiring shots, wherever you are, and you don't need to be an expert...
When we heard that "Don't Bee Choosy", a stunning picture taken by student Laura Elliott in her parents' garden in County Fermanagh, had been named the winner of the National Trust's Your Space photo competition, we were really inspired. Laura entered her shot in the smartphone category and was "shocked" to win the whole competition! That just goes to show what you can achieve with your pocket-sized pal, if only you think to use it!
We asked our friend Paul Fitzpatrick, a keen smartphone snapper, for some simple tips to inspire you! We'd love to see your smartphone masterpieces on our Facebook wall...
Five great tips for top smartphone snaps
1. Keep your eyes open: Spotting a good photo opportunity takes effort, but once you’re in the habit of seeing the world this way it becomes quite addictive. So as you walk around look up, look down and generally be open to interesting and beautiful compositions. And yes, ‘interesting’ and ‘beautiful’ are very subjective!
2. Exploit your limitations: I take and edit all my Instagram pics on my IPhone 4's 5MP camera (hardly state of the art these days) so zooming and low light conditions are best avoided. But this is good as it forces me to be creative – avoiding landscape or wide shots and, instead, looking at details.
3. Take the photo and compose it later: Sometimes I get lucky and frame a picture 'just so'. But often it’s not until I look at a photo later on that I see which area or detail will make the best composition. So it often pays to take a wider shot than you need and crop in Instagram (or in another photography or filter app) after the event.
4. Use filters, but mindfully : There’s no harm in editing your shots with filters. Instagram has some lovely ones and there are loads of other apps with more options. But don't apply a filter effect for the sake of it, only if it helps tell your story.
5. Be part of the community: Being an active part of the Instagram community means you’ll get feedback that can really help you improve and it’s inspiring to see what other people are coming up with. Like something someone else is doing? Don’t be afraid to try and do it yourself and, above all, enjoy experimenting. It’s huge fun and so easy to do with a smartphone in your pocket!
Here's a selection of Paul's lovely shots, plus his comments about how he took them...
"Just an odd sight! It was overcast so I took the snap and increased the contrast to create this silhouette effect. Adding a slight green filter and a pinhole camera effect helped too. I guess I wanted to make it look like a scene from a Brothers Grimm fairy story!"
"Living in Bath, I’m spoilt to bits for nice views but it's hard to find a shot that hasn’t been done a millions times before. I took this in colour but the ironwork just nudged me towards making it black and white. What appealed to me about this was actually all the space on the right. The rest of the image just acts to frame it."
"This is a lamp in a pretty ugly car park. But by adjusting the exposure down after taking the pic, I suddenly got all of those beautiful streaks and tones appearing. It looks like a NASA probe’s photo of a planet and I like that!"
"I just got very lucky with this one. The sunset was gorgeous and the web of telephone wires just gave the scene some focus. I didn’t have to tweak this one at all!"
If this post has inspired you, and we hope it has, we'd love to see YOUR smartphone masterpieces on our Facebook wall!
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