Six principles for mobile photography

This is a series of practical advice. Although these six principles are not systematic, they are indeed the author’s experience and are summarized from many photos of “seeking comments”, covering observation, operation, composition and other aspects – from enthusiasts to talents, we always abide by the six principles. Some of these principles may not be realized; Some of them may look ridiculous, but we may not form the habit of making them influence the shooting imperceptibly.

Familiar with several gestures

The first issue that deserves our attention is that we should pay attention to “gesture”, that is, “feel”. Gestures will affect the quality of our photos. Is it that serious? We can recall some things that we are familiar with, and we will find that we are very familiar with strangers: when writing with a pen, we must be familiar with a pen to achieve the best learning state; When playing the piano, the quality of the music played will be greatly reduced when encountering a particularly hard or soft keyboard; Even when my father cooks vegetables, he feels it is difficult to control the heat when he encounters unfamiliar pots and spatulas.

The familiar gestures let us not rush about and take photos in a calm, stable and most comfortable way. According to our experience, we can develop our familiar gestures in three types purposefully.

Swing the racket

This is the most common situation. The things to be shot will not be fleeting, and the scene flow is relatively stable. At this time, hold the camera steady and press the shutter with your thumb. The posture I am familiar with is as follows:

When taking a horizontal shot, it is a camera with both hands firmly held: the left thumb and index finger hold the phone firmly, the phone leans against the right palm, the thumb naturally presses the screen to focus, adjust the exposure and press the virtual shutter key.

When shooting vertically, hold the phone with your left hand, lean your right hand against your palm, and press with your thumb.

Everyone has a familiar posture; There is no formula.


Being familiar with the gesture of snapping can help us capture some unexpected scenes. Usually, the phone is in the lock screen state when it is placed on the pocket table. It is critical to enter the photo interface in the shortest time and make both hands in the shooting gesture. There are two main points: when you pick up the phone, you can quickly enter the photographing interface by drawing your thumb from the edge of the screen on the left; Quickly make a “swing clap” gesture. This process usually does not exceed 2 seconds.

Snap – 1, take out your phone and light up the screen

Snap shot – 2, thumb left stroke to enter the photographing interface

Snap shot – 3, quickly adjust your posture to take pictures

Continuous snapping action

Street sweeping

It is also often used when important events occur during highlight travel. A few experiences can be shared: during street sweeping, you should hold your mobile phone in your hand, which will give you a state of mind of “hunting”; It is not recommended to open the photographing interface at any time (it is relatively expensive), but the thumb is ready to quickly enter the photographing function by left swiping the lock screen interface at any time; It can be used as a shutter trigger in conjunction with the headset volume key.

Here we will talk about single handed operation separately. Take the iPhone for example, you need to first use your right thumb to “lock the screen and turn on the photography function by left stroke”, and then press the volume key with your index finger as the shutter. If time permits, after the photography function is turned on, you can also use your right thumb to press the screen to determine the focus, or even slide up and down to adjust the exposure.

Three steps of single hand operation. Although the above operation is not difficult, it still needs some practice to form several familiar gestures.

One hand continuous operation

Keep it straight, level and steady

The beginning of photography operation is not to look for those inexplicable and crooked “innovations”, but to put the mobile phone in a correct position and shoot the scene honestly, easily and firmly. Because when we observe the world, we will not feel that the world is tilted if our head is slightly tilted. As for photos, any deviation of the horizon will be sensitively perceived. Check out the award-winning works of IPPA in 2016. At least half of them follow this principle.

When I was a child, I just learned the piano and liked Chopin’s music. I was fascinated by the performance of a master who sounded “free and loose” (later known as rubato free stretching). I imitated it and was later stopped by the teacher. He thought that “the foundation was not good at that time, He insisted that I practice in a uniform, stable and rhythmic way. Sure enough, when I reached a certain level and understood some music, I naturally had “free stretching” “The feeling. And most importantly, I found that even in the free stretching playing mode, it is still based on a firm and stable skeleton, not random. My understanding of this point is consistent with my view on the composition of photography. We need to understand and stabilize a scene, and then go to the sky and push, pull and shake.

This means that in most cases: make the horizontal line horizontal and the vertical line vertical. If the vertical line cannot be vertical, at least ensure that the horizontal line is horizontal. This also means that even if you want to look up and down, you should straighten and level your phone – unless you have enough reason to get a diagonal composition.

It goes without saying that although high-end smartphones such as iPhone have better anti shake optimization, too strong shake will still blur the picture.

Analyzing the winning works above, it is easy to find horizontal and vertical structural lines. The upright and flat beat is suitable for most situations.

Rightness is not a golden rule. You can say that there are a lot of natural, relaxed, powerful and conflicting photos in Huangmu Jingwei and Senshan Avenue. The “upright” here is to avoid those embarrassing deflections, and to know the shooting scene well, and take a picture firmly and steadily.

Works of Japanese photographer Moriyama Dadao. The “skew” in his works is not blind but has reasons.

Clean the lens

The mobile phone does not have a lens cover. The extremely high usage rate will also cause the lens to be dirty easily. The most easy to accumulate is fingerprints. If the lens or reflector of the SLR camera is dirty, it is easy to form black stains in the picture, which can be removed with the stain removal tool. But the phone lens, especially the fingerprint print on it, will make the screen appear lens halo. If there is light in the photographic scene, this glare will be magnified infinitely, even across the entire composition, and the damage to the photo is devastating.

Therefore, we often check whether the phone lens is dirty. This simple habit can even be said that if you are taking important photos, you will definitely wipe the lens of your phone with a napkin.

Take photos with the focus of your mobile phone

BeforeMobile photography

In the sharing meeting, this is called “Beware of zoom”. Considering that many brands of mobile phones have introduced dual lens or even zoom lens, I don’t think mobile phone zoom is a terrible thing anymore.

First of all, I’d like to introduce to beginners what are the different shooting angles of lenses in different focal sections.

The smaller the focal length is, the larger the angle of view of the lens is. To a certain extent, the lens can capture a wider space when it is very close to the object being shot. We call it a wide-angle lens. Such as the common 14mm super wide-angle lens, 16mm wide-angle lens and 24mm wide-angle lens.

The larger the focal length is, the smaller the angle of view of the lens is. The angle of view is small to a certain extent. It can draw the objects far away very close. We call it a telephoto lens, such as the common 135mm, 200mm or even 400mm lens. For wildlife photography, many enthusiasts are keen on bird hunting, so they need to use a telephoto lens. The focal section of the two ends and the feeling of the human eye are quite different.

The focal length between the two, such as 35mm and 50mm, is usually called “standard lens”. The angle of view is relatively ordinary and close to that of the human eye. Most mobile phone lenses are in this focal section. Therefore, the scene we observe through the mobile phone lens is close to or slightly larger than the human eye’s perspective. This also means that mobile phones are good at photography scenes from this perspective.

Mobile phones are not suitable for taking pictures of distant wildlife, birds, or the big moon. They are also not suitable for capturing the action details of athletes in the stands. They are also not suitable for taking pictures of very wide scenes from a very close distance. Mobile phone photography is suitable for the things we see with the human eye (or a little wider than the human eye), which are about 28mm or 35mm focal length. Of course, more and more mobile phones now have dual lenses (such as the 56mm of the iPhone 7p), and it is not difficult to capture a telephoto angle above 56mm.

The current mobile phone lens is not competent for recording scenes with exaggerated perspectives such as wide-angle and telephoto, and can only “imitate” the effect through external lens.

Let’s talk about zoom. The essence of mobile photography can be divided into several situations:

Single lens mobile phone — a fixed focus camera with a focal length of about 28mm.When we stretch our two fingers to draw the screen, the scene gets closer. This does not mean that the focal length of the mobile phone lens has become longer, but that part of the recorded scene is “cropped” by the electronic zoom. For example, in the above figure, the image of segment AB is cropped in 28mm to simulate the feeling of the image of the end segment of the telephoto AB, but the image quality is greatly affected.

Dual lens mobile phone — 28mm, 56mm dual focus camera.When we turn on the iPhone 7p shooting function, the default is the same 28mm lens as the original, which is 1x at this time; When we click 2x, we have switched to the 56mm lens. If we continue to zoom in, the phone will perform digital zoom based on the 56mm lens, up to 10x; What about between 1x and 2x? In fact, the digital zoom is made on the 28mm, but because the stretching is not very serious, the loss of image quality will not be too serious. From 1x to 2x, the iPhone is still very smooth, with almost no flaws.

The zoom diagram of the iPhone7P 7P. Although it can achieve 10x zoom, we still recommend using 1x and 2x fixed focus, and the zoom should not exceed 3x

The principle that we use mobile phones to take photos is to use only the original focal length of the lens and only slight electronic zoom. Otherwise, the output picture quality will be greatly affected. Take the iPhone for example. I usually control the zoom within 3x.

It can be seen that the focus bearing range of the mobile phone to ensure a certain picture quality is still limited, which is still a small range dominated by standard lenses (although this range is expanding). But we don’t think this is a depressing thing. In the past, many street photographers took pictures with almost a few focal sections (such as Bresson’s 50mm and 35mm focal sections), and this focal section is close to the mobile phone focal section. At least in Jiao Duan, we don’t have to struggle. Use your mobile phone to take a good picture of its focal length.

The following sentence is summarized in a very good way: “A good use of mobile photography is actually a good use of 28mm small wide-angle”.

Use flash with caution

At present, flash is the weakness of the photography function of all brands of mobile phones. In most cases, the photos with built-in flash in mobile phones are relatively stiff, which only play the role of “light filling”, far from “light distribution”. In professional photography technology, the use of flash and the use of spot light and natural light are mutually reinforcing and highly skilled, which is not suitable for the positioning of mobile photography. Therefore, in most cases, I will turn off the auto flash button of my mobile phone to take pictures. Enjoy the world created by natural light and scene light.

Less is more

I have talked about the operation before. If you have to take one of the composition materials as the initial principle, I think it is.

Less is more, “less is more” means to use as few elements as possible to express the meaning of concentration. When I first came into contact with photography, the “beauty” observed by my eyes always tended to be “all” recorded, and then I gradually realized that greed could not produce good photos, seeing the big from the small, and daring to give up can often produce unexpected effects. Looking at the award-winning works of IPPA over the years, we can also find that the composition of single center and theme concentration takes up a large part.