Phone cameras have come a long way, but they are not perfect. This is where you come in. The following tips will show you how to take awesome pictures with your phone.
You might be asking yourself “why should I care about taking pictures with my phone?” According to data from Skyword, a Boston company specializing in content marketing, articles with pictures get 94 percent more total views than articles without.
If you want your customers and website visitors to see your content, you should try to include many high-quality pictures.
Including pictures in your press releases can even result in more views.
Infographic by MDG Advertising
Unfortunately, DSLR cameras are expensive and can take some time to figure out. The smartphone has the DSLR and other “real cameras” beat in these two areas.
Chances are you already have a smartphone and you’ve already used the camera app. That’s great! Now it’s just a matter of learning a few tricks and practicing. Here are a few tips to help you take awesome pictures with your phone.
1. Use gridlines
Gridlines help balance your shot when taking pictures with your phone. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the quality of your mobile shots.
Turning on gridlines will place lines on your screen based on the rule of thirds, a composition principle which states a photograph should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.
According to the rule of thirds, if you line up your subject along the lines or at an intersection your shot will seem more balanced and pleasing to the eye. This is essential when using a smartphone since there is no optical viewfinder.
Here’s how to activate gridlines on iPhone cameras:
- Go to “settings”
- Select “photos & camera”
- Find “grid” and turn it on.
And here’s how to activate gridlines on Samsung Galaxy (Android) phone cameras:
- Open the camera app
- Go to “settings”
- Scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”
2. Get closer
When you use your smartphone camera’s digital zoom, you lose a lot of fine detail. Instead, try taking just a few steps closer in the direction of your subject and see if your picture doesn’t improve.
You’d be amazed by how getting just a little closer to the subject can make all the difference in the world in terms of picture quality.
3. Lose the filters
Filters were cool once upon a time, but these days they are seen as gimmicky. Rather than using the same pre-set filters used by countless teens around the world, try your hand at editing.
Mobile apps like SnapSeed, Photoshop Express, and iPhoto are all excellent for fine-tuning your photos without compromising their integrity.
SEE ALSO: 5 Hacks to Beat the Instagram Algorithm
4. Clean the lens
Your phone’s camera doesn’t have a lens cap to protect it from all the lint in your pockets or fingerprint smudges. This build up of gunk on your camera’s lens can lead to hazy images that no amount of post-production editing can fix.
I recommend buying a lens cloth and some cleaner. Even wiping the lens with your t-shirt is better than nothing.
5. Try taking pictures with your phone from weird angles
Taking pictures from weird angles can result in some of the most memorable photos. This is all about seeing from another perspective and to do this will require some creativity.
Think about bird’s eye view/ the overhead — to capture that shot one would need to position themselves above the subject. To do this you can try taking pictures from rooftops, or even ladders.
What about taking a reverse bird’s-eye? — to capture this shot you’ll have to lie on your back.
Think about the perspective of a child or a dog — to capture this shot you’ll want to crouch or lie down on the ground.
I know a journalist whose signature shot is to get behind someone giving a speech to capture the faces of the audience. He was one of many journalists to cover the 2016 presidential election, but because of his signature style of taking pictures, I can recognize his work even without reading a byline.
What’s your signature shot? What’s your weird angle?
6. Forget the flash
If you want to take good pictures with your phone, you should forget about the flash.
The light used is a small LED and this, combined with the fact that it’s not even an inch away from the lens, makes for blurry photos, strangely lit subjects (seriously, the flash makes people look like they have jaundice) and red devil eyes.
So what do you do if it’s dark? Well find another source of light, but do not switch on the flash unless it’s to capture the elusive Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster.
For alternative sources of light, you might have to wait for the right opportunity and try to work with your environment. For instance, if you’re walking the streets, you might wait for a passing car’s headlights, or a street lamp to illuminate your subject. If you’re in a dark club, you can try to sidle up to the well-lit bar.
Natural light is almost always better than artificial, so practice good time management skills so you can take pictures with your phone while you still have daylight.
8. Use the volume button
Turning your smartphone on its side has an added benefit — you can use the “volume up” button as the shutter. This is a benefit because using the standard shutter button will often throw your perfect picture off balance.
By turning the phone on its side and using the volume button as the shutter, you will be forced to use both hands. This will increase stability and reduce shaking.
Ways to Improve Your Midday Photographs
1. Be aware of the angle of the sun & reposition if necessary.
As you start to hone your photography skills, you’ll learn to see and assess all types of lighting.
The big ol’ ball of fire in the sky is one of your very best tools. You can’t have a photograph without light, and the sun provides lots of it. The biggest challenge is learning to use it properly.
Depending on all kinds of things – time of day, weather, where you are on earth (northern or southern hemisphere) – you’re going to get a different quality of light.
Your task is to analyze what kind of light it is at the moment you want to take your photo, and utilize this light to the best of your advantage.
I photographed these women dressed as geisha in Kyoto, Japan, in the middle of the day. You can see some direct light on the lady’s face on the right, but overall, not bad for a quickly captured photo (I literally had about 2 seconds to get this before they moved on).
I used a 50mm fixed lens and it doesn’t have a lens shade, so I did get some lens flare. But I actually don’t mind that.
The sun is almost directly overhead, but because of the way the women were positioned – with the sun slightly behind the subject and to my left – you kinda get a nice rim light around the edge of their hair and shoulders.
2. Use the harsh light to your creative advantage.
Not all harsh shadows are bad. Sometimes it forces you to get creative and your resulting image is often much more striking.
After playing tennis late one morning, I had wanted to take some kind of tennis-related photo. I didn’t have a clear vision, but I knew I wanted something that told a bit of a story using either the tennis ball, racquet or both.
Here’s the result of what I snapped with my iPhone. What do you think?
3. Shoot on Cloudy Days (or wait for a cloud to obscure the sun).
Cloudy days have a way of creating beautifully diffused light that’s a lot softer.
When we visited Matsumoto Castle in Japan in April, the skies were overcast and had just finished dumping a flurry of snow on us.
I did like the more moody look of the castle and took a bunch of shots before we toured the inside. Here’s one.
After the tour, though, the sun had come out and now the look was completely different. The sky was a bright blue with white fluffy clouds. What a difference an hour makes!
I actually like both photos for different reasons. So sometimes it’s also just about shooting a bunch and at the end seeing what you like. Maybe, like me, you’ll get photos you like both when the sun was fully out and when it wasn’t.
Basically, I don’t think you have to completely write off taking good images during the day.
With a little creativity, imagination and compromise, you can still take great photos.
How to Take Great Travel Photos
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