With the popularity of cell phones and the fact that the cameras on these phones keep getting better and better I thought I would give you a few of my top tips for taking better pictures using your phone.
It goes without saying that nothing will replace a professional camera for professional quality images but you can get some pretty darn good pictures with your cell these days. A lot of the Instagram images on my running profile @runtography_ are done with my cell as well as a few on my photography profile @tvfso_photography, when it comes to low-resolution images on the computer it can be hard to tell the difference. So here are my 6 top tips for taking better pics with your phone.
1. Crop Don’t Zoom
A lot of phones offer the zoom function, but don’t use it, forget it’s even there. If you try to zoom into an object or person you can visibly see the image start to degrade fast. When you crop your image with editing software you will keep more of the fine details in the picture making it look far better than the zoom ever could. Look at these two images below. The first is zoomed out the other zoomed in, both unedited. You can see a lot more detail in the first and most of that detail will stay when you crop as opposed to the second image that already looks soft and has lost quite a bit of detail.
2. Lose The Flash
Basically, all the flash is on your cell is an over glorified flashlight. Shine a flashlight on anything and how do the colors look? They look pale, nasty and washed out. These so-called flashes also don’t do what a real flash does, they don’t freeze motion. Just a little tidbit of information. The famous picture above of a bullet going through an apple was shot in a pitch black room using flash. It took multiple tries to get it right but the flash was able to freeze the bullet. Pretty cool huh? Try that with your cell, it's camera can’t even come close. But if it comes down to losing a shot a bad flash is better than no flash but think about trying to light your scene with something else. A neon sign would even look better.
3. For God Sake Clean Your Lens
How clean is your face? How clean are your pockets? Think oils and lint. Unless you’re going for a blurry, linty artistic look make sure your front and back lenses are clean before shooting. These lenses are pretty tough so in a pinch you can use your shirt, but on occasion, a good lens cleaner and soft cloth are well worth it for crisp, clear pictures.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Invade Personal Space
Most people taking pictures usually stand too far away from their subject making the final image look like a Where's Waldo picture. You end up squinting and straining your eyes to find what you were trying to capture. Cell images tend to be small due to the low resolution so don’t be afraid to fill up the frame with your subject. Just don’t get too close and risk distortion in your image, unless that’s the look you’re going for. Who doesn’t look good with a distorted head, haha?
5. For The Love Of All That Is Holy Be Still
As with all digital photography, the more you move or shake the blurrier your images will be. Higher end cameras have different ways of combating this but cell’s don’t. This is a very important point in low light when the camera is struggling to focus on an image. Try leaning against something to steady yourself and if any of you are familiar with shooting a gun you can use the same guideline’s, take a deep breath, steady yourself, use both hands, let your breath out slowly and gently and snap that picture. Make sure you hold the phone steady for a second after you press the shutter as well because of lag.
6. Last But Not Least Edit Your Images Later
Don’t bother using the editing software that comes with your camera when there are so many good free apps out there that with a little practice you too can look like a pro. For my cell pics I personally use Snapseed, but other good ones are Iphoto and Photoshop Express. Test a few of the free ones and see what works best for you, it truly makes a big difference over just slapping a filter on your picture and posting it. There are so many editing options with these apps you can develop your own style.
Hopefully, you found these tips useful, and will practice a few of them to take better shots, now get out there and shoot something.
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Your friendly neighborhood photographer,