6 smartphone camera resources that I have found useful
With the rise in popularity of mobile phone cameras in recent years has come a growing range of resources to help us make the most of our mobile camera technology.
Below I have outlined 6 main areas in which I have found useful resources for getting started as a mobile photographer and/or discovering how to make the most of your mobile phone camera, which I hope you will find useful.
#1 Online course
iPhone Academy offers an online course which starts with basic, but sometimes unknown, tips for getting started with mobile photography and moves gradually to more advanced techniques.
Each video lesson is explained clearly and there is an opportunity to comment or ask questions after each module.
While the lessons are applicable to all smartphones, the Facebook group, where participants can post their photos in response to each challenge, is confined to iPhone users.
The blurb for the course promises that, “within a few hours, you’ll be taking better photos with your iPhone than most people can take with their big cameras!”
It’s a lofty claim, but the comprehensive set of lessons do deliver what they promise.
Improving the composition of our phone camera images is a strong focus on this course
The course is a great introduction to mobile photography. It covers the main aspects of photography such as composition techniques, different photography genres, becoming a creative photographer with iPhone, advanced tips for using the iPhone camera and other camera apps, an introduction to editing on iPhone using the Snapseed app, as well as giving a number of bonus modules including one in which the instructor Emil looks at participants’ images and does a photo analysis, which I found to be very useful.
The course was recorded a few years ago but has been updated to include the new features on the latest iPhone models, and the comments section is up-to-date and is moderated daily.
Emil’s teaching style is easy to follow and he explains each technique in detail while not appearing patronising.
iPhone Academy is part of iPhone Photography School, www.iphonephotographyschool.com, a site full of tips and techniques related to iPhone photography, ranging from tutorials on getting started with mobile phone photography to more advanced techniques.
Almost every aspect of iPhone photography is covered, and the site really is a one-stop-shop for anyone wishing to develop their phone photography skills.
#2 YouTube video
How can we improve our image just a little bit more? This is the question that photographer Clifford Pickett constantly asks in his video course iPhone Landscape Mastery. In this course, Clifford demonstrates simple yet effective techniques for improving your iPhone landscape photography.
The presenter's teaching style is easy to follow and his enthusiasm for his subject is inspirational.
The videos are short yet very informative and the feeling you get after watching them is, I could do that too!
Be sure to check them out, and look out for regular discounts.
#3 Tips and tutorials site
A very valuable resource for photographers of all kinds – beginners, improvers and advanced photographers – is Digital Photography School (https://digital-photography-school.com).
Described as ‘your ultimate resource for practical photography tutorials, ideas and advice for every photographer’, this is my go-to site for photography advice.
There are tips and tutorials on all aspects of photography, on post-processing and camera gear as well as several courses and eBooks.
When you subscribe to the site you will receive a weekly email with information on the latest articles as well as an invitation to participate in the weekly challenge.
This site has everything you need as a photographer. I have not yet looked for information on any aspect of photography that I haven’t found here. The numerous articles containing tutorials, tips and reviews are all written in easy to follow language and well-illustrated.
While the site is mainly focused on general photography, the principles are the same regardless of the tool we use so are easily applicable to smartphone cameras.
Having said that, there are also several articles dedicated to smartphone camera use. A simple search for smartphone photography will bring up all the smartphone related articles, or just follow this link.
Books are not the first resource you go to for information on smartphone photography, but the book ‘smart phone, smart photography’ by Jo Bradford is worth dipping into as a coffee table reference guide.
While the information in the book has been overtaken by advances in mobile camera technology, this is not as big a problem as you might imagine as all the suggestions for composition and subject matter are possible even on older camera phones.
To quote the author, ‘I firmly believe that the key to taking a good photograph has far more to do with understanding how to use your camera, and has far less to do with having all the most expensive kit’.
Her aim is to help the reader tap into the potential of their portable digital camera, and this is where the book succeeds.
The book is divided into short chapters (mostly a two-page spread) each with a conversational style and illustrated with the author’s own photos taken on smartphones.
The author covers every aspect of smartphone photography that you would want to know about, including a section on editing your images.
I like the user-friendly layout of the book and the wealth of easy to digest information it provides.
If you would like one book to dip into as a quick reference guide, to my mind this is the one.
#5 Magazine (online)
Mobiography magazine is a digital magazine about mobile photography. It caters to both iPhone and android systems.
Describing itself as ‘a leading go-to resource for those looking to make the most of the camera in their pocket – the smartphone’, the magazine’s aim is ‘to showcase, teach and inspire others how to take better photos with their smartphones’.
The magazine covers all aspects of mobile photography and is an excellent learning resource.
The magazine is subscription based, with some back issues available free.
The magazine has a great variety of informative articles and useful advice and it is supplemented by www.mobiography.net which also has a range of excellent articles, tutorials, reviews and interviews.
#6 Editing app
While I do not purport to know everything about Snapseed, I will say that I have used it often to make adjustments to my phone images and find it to be a quick and easy way to enhance my photos.
Snapseed is available for iPhone and android phones and is free to download.
I include Snapseed in my list of resources as it is my go-to app for improving my mobile photography.
There are many other apps available for use with your phone camera. I have not investigated all of these but Clifford Pickett has a section on his website which covers most of the best apps available https://www.cliffordpickett.com/screenshots-iphone-photography-2019, or you can check out https://www.mobiography.net/apps/ for further recommendations.
Editing with Snapseed can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it.
You can do a quick edit, such as adjusting white balance, cropping or straightening using basic tools, or you can use the Tools Menu to perform more complex edits.
You can convert a photo to black and white or remove an unwanted object.
In fact, most of the edits you want to make can be made using Snapseed.
There are even tutorials to follow to achieve more creative effects.
As the app is free, it is a great edition to your set of tools and will help you create amazing smartphone images.
https://www.mobiography.net (mentioned above) gives an excellent Snapseed tutorial https://www.mobiography.net/apps/snapseed-app-tutorial/
If you are interested in making the most of your smartphone photography please check out some of these resources, share this post or share some of your own resources in the comments section.
UPDATED JUNE 2021
Some resources that I have found useful in learning landscape photography.
These are the resources that I keep returning to as they give straight-forward, easy to follow advice and suggestions for improvement as well as great examples of landscape photography work.
I hope you will find them useful.
#1 Video Tutorial
There are a number of excellent landscape photographers who are generous and consistent in their output of videos which combine instruction with examples of inspirational photography.
One of my favourite contributors in this area is Nigel Danson www.nigeldanson.ie whose weekly YouTube video arrives in my inbox every Sunday.
One of the best things about these videos is the enthusiasm and passion which Nigel Danson displays for landscape photography and for the places he visits.
Many of his recent videos are shot in the Lake District and Peak District, while he has also travelled all around the UK as well as to Iceland and US.
Danson’s videos offer easy to follow tips and techniques for taking better landscape images and he demonstrates each technique on his photo shoots.
On most of his videos Danson goes back to his studio to discuss the techniques and to study how they can be achieved in practice by looking at his own photographs or images sent to him by viewers.
Danson has an easy style; he is generous with his support to photographers and I have learned a lot from his videos.
A good place to begin is with a video such as
7 Easy Tips That Will Improve Your Landscape Photography
Or click here for a sample of Nigel Danson’s videos.
Other video tutorials
You may also be interested in other photographers who provide free video training along similar lines. Some names to check out are Mark Denney, Simon Baxter, and Alex Armitage.
I have also recently become familiar with the video channel of Thomas Heaton, which I enjoy watching. Heaton is not so much an instructor as an inspirational photographer who shares his process of image making, the 'stories behind the images', with his viewers in a very personable and easy to follow style. He regularly shares his difficulties as well as his successes and I find his photography adventures in his camper van to be very entertaining as well as educational from a photography point of view. You can also check out his website.
#2 Landscape Photography Course
I have been reluctant to take a course that concentrates specifically on landscape photography as I don’t have the variety of lenses that would allow me to get the best images.
When I first saw the videos for this iPhone Landscape Mastery course, I was immediately interested by the prospect of doing landscape photography with an iPhone.
The teacher, Clifford Pickett, is passionate about what can be achieved with a phone camera and the videos were filmed in one of the most iconic landscape photography locations, the Italian Dolomites.
The course takes the photography student through a series of video lessons, which focus on good composition, perfecting camera techniques and learning the many ways to make fantastic images with just a phone camera.
Topics covered are mountains, lakes, fields, villages, forests, rivers and waterfalls, and sunsets. Within those are lessons on using layers, improving images with leading lines, using burst mode, making the most of light, taking close-up photos, to name just some of the module elements.
Pickett’s style is relaxed yet informative, and he conveys not just his great knowledge about photography, but also his passion for what he does and his appreciation of his subjects.
The course can be expensive if bought at full cost, but there are regular discounted offers which cut the cost considerably.
There is lifetime access to the videos, and there are bonus videos covering photo editing as well as promised updates to keep abreast of advances in mobile technology.
There is an active learning community of course participants and moderators respond quickly to queries.
Also included is a comprehensive iPhone Landscape Photography eBook which covers all possible topics connected with landscape photography.
If iPhone landscape photography appeals to you this course is well worth checking out.
#3 Resource Site: fstoppers.com
Type in the phrase “landscape photography tips for learners”, or something similar, to a search engine and you will receive dozens of answers in the form of websites offering tips and techniques for the beginner in landscape photography.
Many of these articles are free to browse although there is usually something for sale also. However, there is no obligation to buy, and you still get to read the tips.
Improvephotography.com offers one such comprehensive article, and it is a good place to start.
Inevitably, tutorials sites often cover similar topics such as camera settings, composition, light, focus, using a tripod, use of filters and so on, as these are the topics which beginner photographers need to know about.
While it is good for a beginner to read this information often to digest it properly, it does become a bit ‘samey’ and you can find yourself longing for something different, for a new approach.
For me, the best site I have come across so far that offers something a little different to the norm is fstoppers.com. Fstoppers is described as ‘a community-based photography news website featuring gear reviews, tutorials, industry news and original articles from professional photographers.’ The site offers a range of articles on almost every photography related topic, often from a unique perspective.
For the purposes of this review, I read a number of articles on landscape photography. One of these articles Landscape Photography and the Meaning of Life inspired my recent blogpost ‘Why I Love Landscape Photography: A Personal Journey’ .
Another recent article, Photogra-Therapy: A Deafening Silence, explored the topic of photography as therapy from an unusual slant.
A further recent and timely article is about exploring your own area for the purpose of shooting landscapes. Entitled Landscape Photography Doesn’t Always Have To Be Epic, the video article explores how seemingly ordinary local scenes can be turned into worthwhile images by beginning to see things differently. The photographer, Thomas Heaton, stresses that landscape photography can be whatever you want it to be. It can be simple, and many opportunities for simple images can be found in your local area.
While some of the articles on this site are beyond the skill of a beginner photographer, there are enough articles in fstoppers’ vast library to provide motivation at every stage of the photography journey.
#4 Video Tips for Post-Processing Landscape Images
There are numerous YouTube videos giving advice, tips and suggestions on how to edit your photos. It is hard to choose one that stands out in every way but a good place to start might be with this video from Mark Denney which gives some beginner advice. 7 Beginner Steps To Edit Better Landscape Photos in Lightroom is a helpful video from a photographer who hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner.
6 Beginner Editing Mistakes That’ll Ruin Your Landscape Photos! also from Mark Denney, gives us a few editing mistakes to avoid.
#5 The Creative Photographer: Photography Magazine (online)
www.creative-photographer.com is an online photography magazine which covers all aspects of photography and provides useful articles, lessons and tutorials.
There is a comprehensive section on landscape photography with tutorials which offer something a little different for landscape photographers.
There are a number of tutorials on black and white landscape photography, which I personally like, as well as tutorials which take the reader a little deeper into the genre rather than concentrating on the usual techniques.
While the site is helpful at all stages of your photography journey, it is particularly useful for advancing your progress beyond the basics.
This is a link to the free landscape photography email course, which covers all aspects of landscape photography such as assessing the potential of your local area, understanding the influence of weather and light and general tips for improving your landscape photography.
#6 General Resource
It is always useful, regardless of your chosen type of photography, to have a general ‘go-to’ site when starting in photography.
As a beginner landscape photographer, you will have lots of questions on how to choose the best camera, what are the best lenses for landscape photography, and so on.
Digital photography school (dPS) is a ‘go-to’ site that I use for tips on all aspects of photography.
For landscape photography specifically, digital photography school offers articles on topics such as:
10 Best Lenses for Landscape Photography
10 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography
11 Surefire Landscape Photography Tips
6 Ways to Easily Improve Your Landscape Photography
And each year there is a post giving The dPS Top Landscape Photography Tips of that year.
There are around 100 articles and tutorials relating to landscape photography on dPS, so there is sure to be something for everyone.
#7 Inspirational Landscape Photography
One of the best ways to improve your photography is to view images from good photographers.
We each have our own tastes and style in photography and different images will appeal to different people, so it is worth viewing lots of images to discover your own particular taste.
There are many websites available to view iconic images, past and present, and the work of the best landscape photographers is often accessible online on the photographer’s website.
I enjoy browsing a site that offers a variety of images from several contributors, especially competition sites where the judges comment on what draws them to a particular image.
One such site is https://www.worldlandscapephotographer.com/ , a site which showcases some of the best photographs from the world landscape photographer competition, giving us an opportunity to view winning and commended images from 2020 and 2021, with judges’ comments.
I have found these images to be inspirational for my own photography practice and have learned from the remarks made by the judges.
The World Landscape Photographer Competition was launched in 2020 by Nigel Danson to encourage people to keep taking photographs and to stay motivated during lockdown.
The competition was so popular that Danson repeated it in 2021 and this year’s winner was Irish photographer Felix Sproll, with an image entitled Atlantic Winter Storm Meets Ireland.
This initiative is a real testament to Danson’s commitment to his photography community and to his real passion for the environment as all proceeds of the competition, which is to become an annual event, go towards environmental protection.
It is well worth taking the time to browse through the images, which range from the winning unique coastal shot which beautifully captures the power of the sea, to the second placed woodland image which one of the judges described as having ‘atmosphere and intrigue, tied together into a superb composition’, through to a range of diverse images from many locations worldwide.
On display are some stunningly beautiful shots to which I can only aspire. An enjoyable feast of landscape images to bring pleasure and inspiration.
I hope you find some of these resources useful. If you do, please share them.