(Originally published in PileDriver Magazine)
So you want to capture high quality photographs, but you lack the budget for a professional photographer or high-quality camera equipment? There has arguably never been a better time for amateurs to capture decent jobsite photos because of that little high-powered gadget called the smartphone.
While the importance of high-quality photographs has not faded, it’s better to capture an acceptable photo of your work in progress than to have no photo at all. The following will serve as a foundation for aspiring smartphone construction photographers.
Buy a Smartphone with a Quality Camera
When it’s time to buy a smartphone, make sure the camera functionality and photo resolution are among the criteria you consider. Today’s smartphone cameras are competing with actual cameras when it comes to quality. In fact, Samsung has an ultra-high 64Mp to 108Mp smartphone sensor, which has a resolution equivalent to that of a high-end DSLR camera.
Adjust the Settings
You’re not aiming to become a professional photographer and the smartphone doesn’t have as many settings as a traditional camera so your best bet is to use the auto setting, which is usually the default. The only settings you might consider changing are High Definition Resolution (HDR) and flash. One of the benefits of digital photography is that you can compare shots using each setting right on the jobsite.
Get Closer to the Subject
One of the most common problems with construction photos is that the shot is taken from too far away. Zooming in with the smartphone is as simple as touching the screen with two fingertips and sliding them away from each other. Reverse the motion to zoom out. Getting closer to the subject can also help you to overcome lighting challenges.
Experiment with Lighting
Lighting can be tough on construction sites, especially when you’re down inside of a deep excavation. There are some situations where you simply can’t get good photographs without supplemental lighting. The best you can do is to take your shots in the best lit portion of the site. You might also alternate between flash and no flash to see which delivers the best photos.
Edit Your Jobsite Photos for Perfection
One of the best things about digital photography compared to traditional photography is that you can edit your images. There are dozens of software brands on the market, but most will find the Photos app in Microsoft Windows 10 to be a perfect option. You can easily straighten, crop, and lighten the photo to improve your results. For a quick fix, you can use the option “Enhance Your Photo” under Filters.
The smartphone has opened up doors that were closed when traditional cameras were the only option. Both hardware and software continue to compensate for poor photography, giving even the most unskilled amateurs the ability to capture acceptable shots. One thing that hasn’t changed is that you still need to understand the fundamentals and have a certain level of skill to capture high quality photos. Not to mention there are uses that demand professional quality. Make sure you know when to hire a photographer and when to break out the smartphone.
PileDriver is the flagship magazine of the Pile Driving Contractors Association. Published six times a year for more than 3,000 professionals in the driven pile industry, PileDriver exclusively represents the driven pile as the preferred method for deep foundations and earth retention systems. Every issue includes articles about driven pile construction projects, PDCA member companies, association updates and other topics intended to engage and inform pile driving subcontractors across North America.
What other tips do you have for snapping better jobsite photos with the smartphone?
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