Yes, I’m not going to lie, it would be fantastic to own a high-end SLR camera with a 65x optical zoom lens, and state-of-the-art image capturing technology (hint, hint to my fairy godmother); but, for the average amateur photographer, carrying around a big, expensive camera all the time, wherever you go, is not exactly practical or affordable. For most of us, we tend to use the camera we have on hand. That camera is usually the one built into our smartphones.
Luckily, the quality of camera phones has gotten so much better over the years. Built-in features make taking a decent photo much easier, but there are certain techniques you can use to vastly improve your shot and go from decent to displaying it on your wall or social media account. So,
I’d like to share with my readers, a few basic tricks I’ve learned about how to take the best shot with your smart phone when capturing a moment to remember.
Before I even started this post, I took a Twitter poll to get an idea of what my followers thought were the most important aspects to taking a good photo:
Most of my them agreed that all four choices were very important, but lighting was number 1.
The first thing you need to do is know your equipment and know what features are available on your phone. Most smart phones come with at least two cameras – front and back. These cameras usually have different capabilities and limitations. Also, get to know your Automatic and Manual Modes. In Automatic Mode, the camera will try to adjust to the best settings possible for the shot. Sometimes, you can choose programmed modes for certain scenarios, such as; portrait, night, and sports/action. However, if you can get comfortable with the manual settings, it will give you greater control over your shots and allow you to adjust the exposure and focus of your photos to get them right how you want it. The best way to figure out your manual settings is to experiment and learn through experience.
Next, I’d like to talk about how to keep your picture clear. There are several things you can do to avoid blurriness in your shot. If using manual, you will adjust your focus by sliding your MF(Manual Focus) bar, but for automatic you can use a “force focus” – this is where you touch your focal point on the screen and the image focuses around that point.
Another feature that comes with most camera phones is “Image Stabilization”. This basically stops your photo from blurring due to a slight movement in your shot or a slight sway of your hand when holding the camera. Image stabilization doesn’t work as well when your focal point is moving at a higher speed. In manual, you would want to adjust your shutter speed, but with automatic you can overcome this obstacle by using the “Burst Mode” feature. The “Burst Mode” feature allows you take rapid shots by pressing and holding your snap button, increasing your chances of capturing a quality still.
The next thing, but probably the most important thing, is lighting. Unfortunately, in my opinion, smartphones are limited in what they can do with lighting and exposure. The more you have to adjust your ISO and increase your exposure, the grainier a photo may look. Ideally, you want a lot of natural light, but if you are taking a photo inside or in low-lighting, you may need to take a few more steps to get the right brightness and coloring in your photo. Manually, you can adjust the ISO (exposure level); the contrast and brightness levels; and adjust your white-balance. In automatic, you can use your flash, and in some cases adjust the level of brightness for your flash.
When taking a picture indoors, you will want to be aware of your surroundings. Try and take your shot in a brightly-lit room. Halogen light bulbs mimic natural lighting better than your standard incandescent – however, how the light is angled; how big the room is; what color the walls are; and what type of objects are in the room, will effect the lighting and color tone of your photo.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Get me from my good side,” or “let’s try this from another angle”. That’s because changing the angle of your shot can change the look and give you a completely different perspective on your photo. It’s a technique that can only be learned through practice and experience. Don’t be afraid to move around; angle your phone; and lower and raise your line of sight.
Next tip – but not an absolute necessity – is to get photo-editing software, because sometimes you have to snap a photo quickly and don’t have time to get the settings exactly how you want it. Even free photo-editing apps can help you adjust certain aspects of your picture and most of those are very user-friendly and simple to figure out. The more expensive photo-editing software is capable of so much more, but will require a whole separate set of skills.
I want to suggest that you take as many pictures as possible – snap to your hearts content. Don’t just settle with one shot, one picture and one angle. Get creative and play around. Just remember that experience is the best teacher!
A big thanks goes out to Aura Frames for reaching out, inspiring this post and providing us with a quick reference “Guide To Smartphone Photography” to add to this post. If you are interested in learning more about their digital frames, check out their website here:
*Disclaimer: Ladyuvthelake is not employed or affiliated with Aura Frames, and has not reviewed their product personally.