Recent Features - How To

Top 10 tips for taking better photos on your phone

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I get asked every so often to condense my years of (ahem) photographic wisdom into digestable form - and set against the background of phone camera hardware and software which is constantly improving. It has been six years since I did something along these lines on AAS or AAWP, so let's put that right now. Your typical 2020 smartphone camera system will take pretty good photos in full 'auto' on its own, but what can you do to take the next step?

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Three years on: What's in Steve's phone-centric toolkit? (2020)

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Three years ago, I let the world know what was in my mobile IT kit, the accessories I group together in the house and take with me on any serious journey to family etc. What inevitably happens in all locations is that, as the 'tech guy', I'm the one people turn to connect A to B, to adapt C to D, to provide power in the middle of nowhere, you get the idea. I'm sure the same is true for you! In compiling this, hopefully of interest and with helpful hyperlinks, I was surprised by just how much had changed, with more capable items replacing older tech, etc.

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No sharpening please, we're British... A five way shootout!

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When considering smartphone imaging, there are two end goals, depending on who you talk to. The populist opinion, catered to by the likes of Samsung and Huawei, is that the photos you take should 'pop', with exagerated edges and detail, enhanced colours, and so on. My view, even though I enjoy hyper-real images as much as the next man, is that photos should accurately portray the world you see, and with as little enhancement as possible. In other words, photos from a phone should be natural and with scope for enhancement later in software without worrying about starting from an edge-enhanced, over sharpened base...

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Contrast and sharpening are overrated: purity should be the end goal...

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I realise I'm the lone voice shouting in the wilderness here, but after multiple comments on multiple imaging features here on AAWP I wanted to respond - with a real world example - of why higher contrast and sharpening may look better on the phone screen but they're 'damaged' photos and greater purity (yes, yes, 'PureView') is where phone camera makers should be aiming their shots...

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Anatomy of a Lumia photo #16: Steaming to the sea-side

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In this latest 'Anatomy' imaging feature, I look at ways to 'think differently', in terms of angles, framing and positioning, to capture memories and create interest. My subject this time? A steam train heading off to the sea-side, though I was hampered by overcast conditions - not that this put me off!

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Why I/we pixel peep - Quality Gives Options

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A debate on Twitter earlier in the week (see below) put up one of THE most frequently asked questions about phone imaging. Why do I/we both pixel peeping when most phone-shot photos are only ever seen on 5"/6" phone screens? It's a good question, but I think I have a great answer. If you're a phone imaging enthusiast then you'll know where I'm going with this already, but for the casual user, here's why I do what I do and here's why enthusiasts care...

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The toughest subject of them all... Nature!

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My camera (phone) comparisons over the last few years have been gradually stymied by manufacturers choosing to over-sharpen, to edge enhance, and to reduce noise. All in the name of producing 'wow' images for social media. Yet, living in the UK, greenery - so trees and grass - and nature generally form part of many test scenes. And it's nature itself, with all its incredible textures, that proves hardest of all to capture using modern camera phones. By way of some data points, I investigate!

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Anatomy of a camera phone photo #3: 1870s Clock

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My series 'Anatomy of a Lumia photo' (here's #1!) has proved popular, even though I used the HP Elite x3 instead for #2 and even though I'm gradually widening out the title! Anyway, here goes another, reverting back to the Lumia 950 XL again - light is again one of the key themes. As it should be for anyone with a keen shutterbug eye!

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