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Latest Photo Challenge: Cell phone photos

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  November 18, 2009 12:30 PM

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My colleague Eric Bauer,'s Information Architect who helps out with Globe Critiques here on RAW, bought his son a cell phone the other day that has a 5 megapixel camera. (My first DSLR, a Nikon D100, had 6 megapixels.) The quality of cell phone cameras has improved so much that I decided to run a Photo Challenge of cell phone photos.

Remember, Photo Challenges aren't judged; they're just another way to showcase your photos in-between the monthly competitions.

Any subject is fair game. In addition to traditional cell phones, you also can use a BlackBerry or an iPhone or any similar PDA-type device. The idea is to demonstrate the high quality one can achieve with these cameras now.

Globe staff photographer John Tlumacki has written a tipsheet for taking good cell phone photos, and put together a gallery of his own photos taken with a BlackBerry. (See both below.) After you read through his suggestions and peruse his photo gallery (which also contains valuable tips), upload your own cell phone photos to this gallery. Let's keep it to 3 photos per person. And please let us know what phone or other PDA you used along with the location, time of day, etc.


Cellphone camera tips and techniques

By John Tlumacki
Globe Staff

Keep the lens clean. A bit of oil from your skin or debris on such a small lens will affect photo quality. Use an ear swab to clean the lens; slide the back cover off the cell phone to gain better access. A piece of tape over the lens can protect it.

Fill the frame. The wide-angle lens has a large depth of field.

Use the highest quality setting and largest file size even though it means storing fewer photos.

There is a lag in the shutter, so try to anticipate action and expect about a half-second delay from when you depress the shutter to when it takes the picture.

Don't use the zoom feature. It is a digital, not an optical, zoom, which means it magnifies only the pixels in the camera. You are better off blowing up the photo in a software program.

Hold the phone sideways to take a vertical photo and fill the frame so you don't have to end up cropping the photo. This is a good way to take a portrait of someone.

The automatic exposure setting means objects against a bright background such as the sun will be underexposed.

Hold your hand over the phone to shield the sun. You can tell if your hand is in the right position by looking at the image on the screen.

Be aware: The flash is a drain on the phone battery.

When saving photos, rename them so you know which ones are which if you e-mail them to yourself.

Try shooting through sunglasses or color-tinted glass or plastic for interesting effects.

Shoot through a magnifying glass to get close-ups. Some websites sell close-up lens attachments.

The BlackBerry Pearl has a voice recorder that allows you to attach up to a minute of digital audio to a photo.

Use it as a personal copy machine if you need a copy of a document; for insurance purposes, you can photograph valuables and save the photos to a CD or hard drive.

At the beach, put it in a plastic zip bag; sand and saltwater can ruin the camera.

Here's John's gallery of photos taken with his BlackBerry Pearl.

Ready? Add up to 3 photos to this gallery; tell us what phone or other device you used, as well as location, time of day, etc.

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