Mastering MOJO – Tips and tricks for improving your mobile videography and photography skills

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The modern smartphone gives all of us the opportunity to capture some amazing content – anytime, anywhere. By learning some basic rules, you can take your mobile content capturing skills from good to great. Read on …

KEEP IT CLEAN

The most basic but most overlooked requirement when taking video or photos on your smartphone – make sure to clean your lens before shooting.

Unlike a more traditional camera, which generally lives inside a cover or camera bag, your smartphone is constantly in use and your lens will quickly get oily or dirty throughout the day.

A microfibre cloth is the best tool for the job so carry one around with you in your wallet. A clean lens will lead to a sharper, better result.

 

QUALITY CONTROL

While modern smartphones are capable of recording Cinema 4K video (cinema quality resolution), it’s not always necessary to shoot in the best available quality.

Think about the intent for your video when filming. If you video is destined for social media, between 360-480p resolution will do, while also reducing download/upload times and ensuring a quality viewing experience on older devices.

Here are the standard video resolutions:

480x360p: best for viewing on mobile devices

720x480p: DVD

1280x720p (HD): TV

1920x1080p (Full HD): TV

4096x2160p (Cinema 4K): cinema

 

SET YOUR FOCUS

While the autofocus on most modern smartphones is getting better and better, there’s nothing worse than taking what you thought was a great shot, only to realise your intended subject is in fact out of focus.

When shooting with your camera set to auto mode, setting the focus manually is child’s play. Simply compose your shot, tap on the area where you want the camera to focus, and then take your shot.

Your intended subject should come out crystal clear. And while you’re at it, experimenting between changing your focus point between the foreground and background of your photo will yield some interesting results.

 

STABILITY

Got the shakes? When it comes to filming on mobile, nothing screams amateur more than shaky video, especially when tracking a subject on the move.

Thankfully, the modern generation of smartphones have some great video stabilisation tools built in which should help keep your captured videos smooth and professional looking. Samsung’s Super Steady setting for instance is super easy to toggle on and off, although it can only be used within certain shooting resolutions.

Play around with your camera and explore what it offers in terms of automated video stabilisation.

The next step is to invest in 3rd-party rigs like gimbals and tripods, which are generally easy to use and inexpensive if you are looking for something basic. The options are endless and provide a level of stabilisation above that of an in-built piece of software as described above. Using a gimbal while shooting action video that requires fast panning or tilting of your camera will help you keep your shots smooth and fluid in a way that is almost impossible when doing hand-held shots.

 

BURST MODE

Getting the timing right when your subject is on the move (for instance if you’re trying to capture a sporting event) can be extremely tricky. Improve your chances of capturing the perfect action shot by engaging burst mode, which will take photos in quick succession until you release the shutter button.

By taking multiple shots of a moving target you will have multiple shots to choose from – one of which will have been taken at precisely the right moment.

How to activate bust mode can vary depending on your device – on the iPhone 11 for instance you can activate burst mode by sliding the shutter button to the left, while on the Samsung Galaxy S20 you must drag your shutter button down, which will let you take 100 shots at a time.

It’s a great feature to get to grips with and you can simply delete the photos in the sequence you don’t wish to keep to avoid filling up your phone’s memory.

 

COMPOSITION – RULE OF THIRDS

The rule of thirds is one of them most popular methods that smartphone photographers/videographers use to properly compose their shot. Almost all smartphone cameras will give you an option to turn on a grid display while shooting – two sets of equally distanced lines running horizontally and vertically that will create nine equally sized sections in your frame.

By placing your subject on the intersection of any of these lines, you will give yourself the best chance of composing the perfect shot. There’s a lot more to composing the perfect photo, but the rule of thirds is a great place to start for beginners.

To switch grid on:

iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.

Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option “on.”

 

SKIP THE ZOOM FUNCTION

While modern smartphone cameras have made amazing progress in the past few years, one area sadly lagging behind is the zoom function – although the introduction of dual cameras, which allows your device to automatically switch to the most suitable lens depending on the shot you want to take – does represent improvement. Still, zoomed-in images often look flat, cut-off, and detached.

So if you want to take a great macro shot or close-up of your subject, it’s best to get up close and personal, avoiding the need to crop your image too much after the fact, which will lead to loss of quality and sharpness.

 

EDIT YOUR SHOT

Photo editing can often be the difference between a good and a great image – and it doesn’t have to mean getting knee deep in complicated video editing software.

Sometimes, simply cropping your image with your phone’s editing tools and adding a basic filter can elevate an ordinary image into something more visually compelling. There are many great photo editing apps that will automatically retouch your photos without much work required – giving you a better end result.

 

DOWNLOAD THE MOJOREPORTER APP

Are you a mobile content producer looking for an efficient way to store, manage and share your work? Change how you manage your content for the better with the MojoReporter app.

  • Create packages of videos, photos, audio & GPS coordinates
  • Upload to your private web dashboard
  • Share & distribute

Download it now!

 

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