Improve Your Smartphone Photography
Almost everyone has a smartphone now. Even my 74 year old mom has a smartphone. And smartphones all have cameras in them. It’s been said over and over that the best camera you have is the one you have with you. Deep. LOL. Now not everyone carries a DSLR with them 24/7. I tried. It got in the way. So, a point and shoot is the next best thing but again, you have to have it with you. Your smartphone is the best camera you have with you all the time. But, they are know to give inconsistent results. I’m going to try to help you get better photos more consistently.
Here are my best tips. I use these every time I use my smartphone for a photo.
Tip 1: Keep your phone close to your body.
I see people taking photos with their phones and they have their arms stretched out as far as they can get them. I’m not sure why. The farther you move your arms away, the more your hands will shake and wiggle causing camera shake in your photos.
Keep your hands as close to your body as you can and still see the screen. I usually have to take my glasses off or use my reading glasses. Keep your elbows tucked into your ribs. This will help to stabilize your arms and further reduce camera shake.
Arms too far out = Camera Shake Keep your arms and elbows tucked in.
Tip 2: Use a stabilizing object.
A good idea is to support your phone on some solid object. A bench, a tree, a car even you knee will do in a pinch. Anything that will keep you phone steady will help to reduce camera shake in your photos.
I built a little adapter for my cell phone out of a large office binder clip. I can mount it on a small tripod or a large one for that matter. It works great.
Tip 3: Use a better camera app.
Most of the factory camera apps I’ve come across are pretty good and the above tips will help you get more from them but I have found that having access to the camera’s ISO setting will allow me to get a faster shutter speed from the camera. It will introduce some noise in the image but it will be sharper. So in a pinch, that’s the route I go.
I’m currently using an android app called “A Better Camera” and it is just what the name says. A Better Camera. It is a paid app but worth every cent I paid for it.
Screen shots from A Better Camera.
Tip 4: Crop your photo don’t zoom.
Smartphones don’t have an optical zoom. No moving lens parts. All the zoom is digital. That’s going to cause a lot of noise and in my experience take all the sharpness out of the image. All the small fine details will be gone.
Cropped Digital Zoom
I didn’t crop as tight on the cropped photos but you get the point. That said, I will use the digital zoom from time to time when it’s the only way to get the shot.
Tip 5: Don’t use filters, edit instead.
Filters can be cute but everyone uses them. If you want your photos to be memorable then don’t edit them the same way as everyone else. Filters merely cover up flaws rather than addressing them. SnapSeed or Photoshop Express are your best friends. What amazing photo editors. You are able to adjust the color temperature, the exposure, the sharpness, etc etc. The list goes on. I rarely post a photo from my phone that has not been touched by Snapseed or Photoshop Express.
This is the unedited image that is at the top of this post. You probably notice it’s not as sharp and the colors don’t pop as much. Snapseed did an amazing job bringing out the best of the photo.
And here is the edited version again just for comparison.
Bonus Tip: Be aware of your camera orientation.
By this I mean landscape or portrait orientation. Landscape meaning holding your phone on it’s side and portrait meaning holding it upright. All to often I see people just snapping away in portrait orientation out of habit because that’s the way they do everything else with their phones. This will drive me nuts. Especially if you are shooting video. Please NEVER EVER shoot video in a portrait orientation. It’s very hard to watch and really makes it look like you don’t know what you are doing.
With this in mind certain subjects will lend themselves to the different orientations more naturally. A photo of a lake or a mountain or even a group of people will look much better in landscape than in portrait where as a close head and shoulders shot of someone looks best in portrait mode. When in doubt, take a shot in each of the orientations and see what works best for the subject.
This crane looks alright but it could be better.
That’s better. It’s higher than wide and so lends itself to a portrait orientation.
Well there you have it. My top 5 tips. I could go on and usually do but I wanted to just give you my best tips.
And I’d like to give a special shout out to my son Jacob for helping me with the demonstration photos. You can see his preteen style fun over at his Instagram stream.