Summer is finally here! I’m of the opinion that sunshine, beaches, concerts, BBQs and vacations need to be well documented now so we can reminisce and feed off of the memories in the hibernation state of winter. You may not always feel like bringing out your bulky camera, but your trusty smart phone will do a more than decent job capturing the moment. Here are my tips for making the most of your phone camera. Some of these suggestions are specific to iPhones because that’s what I use, but many tips apply to any smart phone device.
Fight the blur:
Low lighting or lots of movement can lead to some sadly blurry images. To fight the fuzzies, steady your phone with two hands, holding as you would a normal camera. Pin your arms to your sides for stability and breath out before taking the photo. Also try releasing your shutter button instead of pressing it. (The camera shutter isn’t actually released until you take your finger or thumb off the shutter button.) Pressing the “+ Volume” button on the side of your iPhone also controls the shutter and is a handy way for it to feel more like a traditional camera.
Zoom with your feet, not the camera:
Most smart phone cameras use a digital zoom to process an image instead of zooming with the lens like a normal camera. This will cause your images to come out looking grainy. Try moving closer to the scene or using photo editing apps or software to zoom in afterwards.
Don’t forget to clean the lens!
I don’t know about you, but my iPhone isn’t always pristinely clean. It sloshes around in my purse and in my pockets, gets tossed about my coffee table, and my cat probably steps on it when I’m not looking. Plus I don’t always pay attention to where my fingers are landing when I grab for it. Grubby hands = grubby phone. If your pictures are blurry or strangely foggy when you use your flash in low light, try polishing your lens with a clean cloth.
Centering everything can get a little monotonous. Try changing the angle of your shot for an interesting perspective. Your iPhone can assist you in finding an interesting balance by turning on “Grid,” under “Options” in the camera. Using the rule of thirds with your grid can really help the composition of your images.
Make light your friend, not your foe:
Direct sunlight on your subject can create harsh shadows and lots of squinting-friend faces. If possible, try shooting when the sun is diffused by clouds or with the sun to your subject’s back. If you’re still not satisfied with the lighting, try turning on the “HDR” setting under “Options.” HDR, high dynamic range, takes several photos in a row and then combines the best sections of each automatically for a more evenly lit photo. HDR is best used when shooting outdoors.
With some of my favorite free apps, I have turned my mediocrity into majesty, and so can you!
- The obvious favorite is Instagram. For many, this app has become more than just a photo editing device, but its ability to transform your images is still a huge draw. Cropping your images down to a square can help focus your composition, and with filters to fit every mood, this app will quickly become obsession.
- Snapseed by Google is a new favorite of mine. As a designer, I rely on Photoshop to tune my images at home or work. When I’m on the go, I use Snapseed. This app lets you adjust lighting, contrast and color, AND allows you to have control over their effect filters to produce truly personalized images.
- Color Effects is also a pretty fun app that allows you to change your image to black and white and pull out specific areas of color. On top of that you can colorize different areas to add shades that weren’t in your original photograph.
- Pixuru prints preserve the moment. Finally, to truly bring your memories to life, consider ordering a print of your photos. Henson’s super cool new client Pixuru has a fantastic range of sizes and mediums to turn your images into works of art. Explore their site to see what your images would look like on canvas, wood or metal. Use the code ‘Hamilton88’ and get 20% off on your order!