Secrets to Black and White on Mobile

I’ve been shooting mobile since before the smartphone became the ubiquitous method of capturing on the go. The first and most enduring lesson I learned was that all the basic components of photography are the same regardless of the device you use to capture the image. Exposure, light and composition always a factor.

Further, a photo of enduring quality will depend on two things, light and the subject matter. The quality, amount and direction of light is crucial when shooting with a mobile device such as a smartphone. The subject could be anything but it must speak to the emotions of the viewer in some way. Photographs of people and other living things are particularly powerful.

The three photographs below were taken seconds apart standing in the same place with the light playing a different role in each shot. There was no exposure adjustment made to any of them; these are straight from the camera. [Hipstamatic, Watts Lens, Blackkeys Supergrain film] If you want to use exposure adjustment with Hipstamatic combinations you have to use their Oggl app. How you choose to control the light will have a huge impact on the mood and quality of the picture.




Those apps that allow for separate exposure and focus are particularly helpful but require some skill to get just the amount of light you want. Changing your vantage point will also affect the image in many more ways. As we said at the beginning, same issues of photography regardless of device. Of course, timing, camera shake… all the usual things have to be considered.

All pretty standard stuff, so what is the secret? If I am sure I want to go black and white my go to app is Camera Plus Pro or CP Pro. I have it preset to the black and white filter which yields a nice contrasty image and another nice feature, you can shoot video in black and white and adjust exposure on the fly. The exposure adjustment is very responsive and fluid in this app. How I learned about this app was not from reviews but by looking at the images posted online and discovering the tags. If you have any black and white tips please leave them in the comments.


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