This post is about using your mobile phone to take photographs and videos, the idea for it came from watching several videos that were posted on-line that could have been really interesting and informative but were spoilt by a very simple mistake, and it’s one that the photographer can see when they take the picture.
So what is this simple, but obvious, mistake that seemingly few people notice?
It’s how the phone is held while taking the pictures. Mobile phones are designed to be used vertically when making a call or reading a text or e-mail, but when it comes to taking photos or video vertical, or portrait mode as it’s called, is not usually the best way. Used vertically a phone camera has a wide view up and down, but a limited view side to side, so to capture all the action people tend to wave the phone from side to side, a technique called ‘hose piping’. When viewed on a standard computer monitor or TV this results in a video where around two thirds of the screen is blank and the central third has a scene that is moving from side to side, which can make it difficult for people watching to focus on.
The simple act of turning the phone on its side, into what’s called landscape mode, increases the angle of view sideways which is usually enough to capture the whole scene without needing to wave the phone from side to side. It also means that when viewed on a monitor or TV the picture fills the whole screen and doesn’t look like it was taken by someone peering out through the arrow slit of an ancient castle.
Take a look at these two photos, both are presented as they would appear on a computer monitor or TV screen.
They’re both taken from the same place, the only difference being the way round the phone was held. Can you see how much better the one on the right is?
So, before you take that next photo or video, turn your phone through 90 degrees onto its side and see how much more of the scene you can capture.
Of course there are subjects where vertical, portrait mode, is the most appropriate, such as where the subject is vertical like a tall building or a person, but for most of the time horizontal, landscape mode, is best, especially for video. So, when shooting video avoid being an “arrow-slit” hosepipe photographer, people watching your video will thank you for it.