New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Cell Phone artistry takes on fall foliage


I was reminded last weekend that people are relying on their cell phones more than traditional cameras (notice I don’t say real camera) when I was trying to photograph an event and the SLR users were outnumbered 50-1. The white circles indicate the cell phones I can see and there are many more!

On the Crane beach Tho Jansen's kinetic sculptures come to life with the number of Cell Phone to SLR ratio

Cellphone to SLR ratio

Back in the day, a “real” camera was a heavy metal camera with rolls of celluloid film. Then the digital age hit and we went from celluloid and chemicals to silicone and binary. It’s been a short 15 years between my first digital camera (a 1.3 megapixel monster) and my Samsung S6 cell phone. (All foliage pics in article are with my S3)

Grist mill shot with S3 cell phone

Grist mill shot with S3

In the end, the best camera is the one that you have with you and that describes a cell phone perfectly. Memories are precious and our fall foliage trips are just that, memories.

How to gauge whether you can live with just your cell phone as your primary camera?

Cell phone shot in Chester New HampshireHere’s what I look at when I ask myself that very question.

  • What am I going to do with the pictures when done? (Sales or low res images for my blog)
  • Is the quality good enough to print an 8 x 10 or larger (newer phones yes!)
  • (This applies to me but maybe not you), can I sell a large print (11×14 or larger) that is framed and matted as an art print to a customer?
  • What are the capabilities of the phone in different situations?
    • Can I use the phone in low light situations and get good pictures or does it require a flash
    • if I zoom-in does the picture get really noisy (the digital zoom in almost all current phones are noisy)
  • Does your phone have a professional mode? (The S-6 does)

Practice makes perfect, learn by doing

I was expecting a lot out of my S6 after all the hype and to be honest my first pictures did not live up to my expectations. Each day I took my phone/camera outside and I would practice by photographing flowers in the garden, or insects such as dragonflies which are numerous in late summer. My macro cellphone shots are as good as my Canon macro lens but I learned to get very good ones.

I actually learned more by getting bad shots than I did by getting good shots. It’s when the image comes out horrible that you strive to make it better. Look for settings like anti-shake if your image is blurry. If your background is sharp but what you wanted sharp isn’t, then see if tapping the screen tells the camera to focus on this point. If your camera/phone works this way and many do, it will show the camera what you want it to focus on.

Also, remember the basics of photography, apply to cell phones

  • Cell phone shot of Route 100 Vermont red barn

    Cell phone shot of Vermont’s Route 100 barn.

    Like, not shooting directly into the sun (sun from the side or behind you is the best)

  • Holding your camera steady or bracing it against a non-moving object
  • Learn what leading lines are
  • And the rule of thirds

You can find this Route 100 red barn in the Vermont Gazetteer.

To find this barn, turn to page 34 in the Vermont gazetteer. Then go to B1 on the grid map and you will find the little red barn on Route 100 just south of Moss Glen falls.

You can find all these photographic techniques and much more online by looking for books or YouTube tutorials. If you have specific questions ask in the comments but for a full online lesson I may charge during the fall… A bit busy for the next 2 months… 🙂

AND! speaking of Vermont… If you are on Facebook, have you visited “Very Vermont“? Sallyanne O’Donnell. runs the page and if you love Vermont you will love her page… Year Round Vermont.

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
Subscribe to my Newsletter - If you would like to sign up for my Fine Art America Newsletter (click this link and a window will open allowing you to sign up). Why sign up for the newsletter? Contests, discount codes on my artwork, maybe an excerpt from my book "Exploring the back roads of New England with Jeff Foliage"... Yes you heard me right... (Damn now I have to start writing it!)
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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Cell Phone artistry takes on fall foliage — 1 Comment

  1. Three years ago I took the bold step of taking only my cell phone on my annual vacation. This trip was to southwest Utah and I have to say it worked out great. I did the same the next year traveling to the Oregon coast and I have been doing it ever since. My intent was to be able to review the pictures every night and email a few to friends and family. Sort of a pictorial daily diary. Easy Peazy. The only issue is that it doesnt work well for zooming. But surprisingly there have been few times that it was a problem. I can’t wait to do it again when I leave for New England October 4. Thank you for all you do.

    Marietta, GA

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