These ten tips will help take your smartphone pictures from ordinary to extraordinary in no time!
We all enjoy taking pictures. It seems like a relatively straightforward thing to do right? Well, it’s not. Taking visually interesting pictures can have a steep learning curve – ask any professional photographer. Most of us with smartphones just open up our camera app, point, and click, and were are done. While you can get decent pictures at times you’re not really taking advantage of what your smartphone camera has to offer. All it takes is a few minutes, adjusting some settings, and remembering the rules for taking a kick ass picture and you’ll have photos that are frame worthy!
Most smartphones these days have excellent cameras but don’t you want more than decent photos? Here are my favorite tricks for boosting my smartphone photography. Smartphone cameras can take pictures that are just as crisp and clear as any DSLR camera so there are no excuses to take bad pictures anymore! And you don’t have to be a pro photographer to take excellent photos! I’m continuing to learn new tips and techniques every day and you should too.
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1 – Override the Default Settings: This is one of the first things I do when I’m taking pictures. It’s fast, easy, and give you the spot on features you need.
Take some time to look at the advanced setting on your smartphone. Understand your phone’s exposure setting. You can use the sliders found in most camera applications to boost your photos too. When you are in your camera app click on the “mode” settings. There, you will see settings for features that be very specific to the shot you are trying to take such as night, beauty face, sports, etc. The “pro” settings are great to play around with as well.
You can choose features like, effects, metering, and more. For example, if you would prefer grain to blur – all you need to do is up the ISO used by the camera manually and if your photo is underexposed you can use the sliders found in most camera applications to boost it.
Currently, I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S6 – this is what the “Mode” settings look like. Be sure to get familiar with the settings on your phones mode feature. Take some time and play around with what each setting has to offer. Snap some random test photos using each setting. You can always delete them after you’re done playing.
2 – Be Ready, Set, Go! It’s a good idea to keep your phone in camera mode. I have my phone ready take pictures by pressing the “Home” button twice quickly on my phone. A good picture-taking moment is so easy to lose if your phone is not ready to go. The best way to do that is to set your phone’s camera to automatically open it quickly.
Click on the “Camera Setting” icon on your phone. There, you will see a preference for accessing your phone quickly. For the Galaxy S6, you can also change that feature in Settings – Applications —> Camera.
3 – Light, Oh Magical Light! Good lighting is the key to taking better pictures. Even at night, the amount of light you have in your pictures is important. Always try to take photos in natural lighting. It’s simply the best. I know as a blogger, I’ve taken shots of perfectly plated food outdoors in order to get better lighting. (I love my townhouse but the lighting is not the best). As I mentioned before, your phone has a feature for taking photos at night – play with it.
You’d be surprised at how many awe-inspiring photos you can get in the mystical moments of the evening. Some good rules to remember about shooting in the evening are: the hour before and after sunset creates gorgeous light for landscapes and outdoor photography. The golden hour (before) creates fiery oranges and reds. The blue hour (after) gives soft, subtle blues.
4 – Using The Principles of Composition:
Simplify the scene – The camera doesn’t discriminate. It’s important to remember that it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point. What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the center of attention in the frame. in simple compositions.
Here are some key elements used in the principles of composition.
♦ Fill the frame – You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, but you keep them in the background or make them part of your photographic story. It’s is said that silhouettes, textures, and patterns are all devices that work quite well.
♦ Aspect ratio – Try turning your picture to get a vertical shot instead by adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style. You can often improve on both horizontal and vertical shots by cropping the photo later.
♦ Avoid the middle – Centering your images produces static, boring pictures. There is nothing visually interesting about them. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds – that’s where you split the image up into thirds – both horizontally and vertically – and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections.
♦ Leading lines – Converging lines can give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional depth that end up drawing you into an image. Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame which results in leading you towards the main subject. Lines exist everywhere. You can easily find them in nature. They are in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied so use your creativity and start to think about natural and manmade lines.
♦ Creative with colors – Try to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colors. Try a bright splash of color against a monochromatic background. The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colors.
♦ Backgrounds – It’s really important to see beyond the subject you are focusing on and see the entire image in your camera lens. See beyond your subject and remember everything in the background is an integral part of your photo too. I’ve often used some creative ways to either add interesting elements or remove them from my background. For example, if your background is too busy, you can angle the shot from the ground up so it uses the blank space on the ceiling where things are not so busy. This might require some kneeling and shooting upwards while your subjects remain positioned in the photo.
♦ Breaking the rules – I always try to remember that even though there are so many photography rules, it’s always interesting to break them and try something different. You’d be surprised what an amazing photo you can get using your own imagination. Break a rule, take a risk – I’ve gotten some outstanding photos that way.
5 – Sideways Is The Best Way! This is my preferred angle for taking pictures with my smartphone. I rarely use the vertical position. Be sure to use the “landscape” orientation when taking photos. Not only will your images look so much better, but you’ll be able to have more photography real estate to do so – you can fit so much more into a photo by holding your phone horizontally. Holding your phone horizontally will also create photos that look better when viewed on a widescreen computer or television and you won’t get those awful vertical black bars on each side of the photo. I especially dislike that in videos too!
6 – Steady Now! Did you ever hold your camera at arm’s length to get a shot? If so, you are doing it all wrong. To get a good, sharp image, turn yourself into a human tripod. Hold the camera with both hands and pull your arms into your chest or stomach. You’re instantly sturdier and so are your photos. Also, I’ve purchased a few mini-tripods for my smartphone what work terrific! You can even use them outdoors. They are great for taking selfies too or if you are out dining and you’re not into the whole selfie stick movement.
7 – Apps Rock! There are so many awesome apps out there for taking photos. I don’t just mean the filtering kind either. I mean actual camera apps that are loads more efficient and jammed with awesome features and functionality. A few of my favorite camera apps are “A Better Camera, Cameringo, Camera+, Manual, ProCamera, Camera ZOOM FX, and Camera 360. Apps can help you easily edit and share photos and videos too.
8 – Managing Your Photos – If you use a PC or MAC and want to be able to easily edit, save, and download your photos to your computer, then I suggest you give Mighty Text a try. I don’t know what I’d do without it. You can easily text from your computer which is synced with your phone & number. It allows you to instantly & securely store photos & videos taken from your phone to your computer or tablet. Dead simple, 1-click photo sharing. Apply Instagram-like filters and effects too. One of my favorite tools for sure!
9 – Editing Is Your Friend: If you are not happy with the photos you’ve taken, don’t delete them – edit them instead! There are loads of apps to help you along – VSCO is a great way to edit photos for free, and Snapseed is another good mobile option. Download one and start editing around. You’d be surprised how slightly increasing the saturation and warmth of your photos makes a huge difference. Some tips – explore saturation, contrast, fill light, tint, grain, and other tweaks to see which improve your photos the most.
10 – Keep That Lens Clean! Oh my gosh – you would not believe how many great photos are ruined because of a dirty lens. I make sure to clean my smartphone lens several times a day. I recently wrote a post about an amazing gadget to help you do that. Plus, it’s germy not to clean your phone. Whatever you use to clean your lens, just be sure to do so. You’d be amazed at the dirt on it that you don’t see!
Be sure to read My Favorite Gadget Of The Week to discover new mind-blowing photography tips, tech tools, and gadgetry.
I hope these tips will help you to take better pictures with your smartphone. I know they sure have helped me.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below. I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
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