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September 23, 2014

From Good to Great: 5 Tips to Improve Smartphone Photos

A celebrated photographer by the name of Chase Jarvis once said that “the best camera is the one that’s with you”, and nowadays that camera will most likely be the one on your smartphone. Somehow, most of us don’t fully utilize our smartphone’s camera capabilities yet and end up with run-of-the-mill snaps, potentially losing the chance to capture precious yet fleeting moments in our lives.

With that being said, the YugaTech team lets you in on five best practices that you can do to improve the pictures you take using your smartphone, starting with having a good grasp of your smartphone’s imaging capabilities.

Be one with your tool

In order to get the most of what you have, you need to have a good understanding of what your smartphone camera can and cannot do. Oftentimes, users end up with crappy shots because they were using their device in ways it was not intended to or they’re just too lazy to tinker with various settings on their smartphone’s camera app and expect their device to magically do it for them.

Start by familiarizing yourself with your smartphone camera app. Unlike full-fledge cameras, there are only a handful of ways that you can alter the settings of your smartphone’s camera. Use this to your advantage and identify what these various settings mean and how it affects your picture.

Once you know the ins and outs of your camera app, start experimenting with various settings and see what happens to your pictures if and when you change a particular setting. As a good practice, take note of the changes you’ve made before you take the shot so you can refer to it later on.

Don’t be shy in taking more than one picture of the subject or scene. There are a lot of benefits in doing so, one is having a backup in case your first shot ended up bad and the other is having the ability to compare the shots that you took using different settings.

Lastly, take a closer look at the pictures you’ve taken, preferably on a bigger screen than what your smartphone has. Observing how your camera behaves in different lighting conditions and various scenes can help you better understand the limitations of your device.

Think before you click

We often see this adage pertaining to how we interact on the internet, but it’s also applicable to smartphone photography. Sure, there are times when we need to be quick in order to capture fleeting moments, but in most cases it’s better to first take a step back and think of ways to better capture the subject or scene.

Here are some sample questions that you can ask to yourself before pressing the shutter:

  • How much or what part of the scene do I want to include on my pictures?
  • What part of the scene do I want to highlight?
  • Are there any distractions on the scene that may take away the focus on my subject?
  • Do I need to darken/brighten the scene?
  • Is the scene/subject better with colors or black and white?

Look for better angles

Oftentimes, we are so excited to take picture of something or someone that we forget that there are other ways to shoot the scene or the subject. This is exactly the reason why most pictures taken at iconic places look similar to thousands of other pictures taken on that particular place.

person-taking-picture-of-breakfast-with-smartphone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit

Before you press the shutter button, take a second or two to circle around the place or the subject to find interesting angles. Better yet, take a bunch of pictures of the same subject in various angles to see what angle looks best.

Hold it STEADY!

Nothing is more annoying than a blurry picture. Sometimes it’s the camera’s fault for using a slower shutter speed to counteract the insufficient light source, but most of the times it’s actually the user who can’t keep the phone steady while taking the picture.

While we can’t do much about how your camera behaves in different lighting conditions, we can do something about reducing, if not totally eliminating the blur caused by our shaky hands. Here are some ways we can do just that:


Image Credit

  • Hold the phone with two hands- there’s no point for an able-bodied user to not use both of their hands when taking a picture. Nuff said.
  • Place the phone on steady surface – if you really can’t keep your hands from shaking, place the phone on a steady surface to reduce motion-induced blur. Better yet invest on a small tripod or put your monopod to good use other than taking selfie.
  • Use the timer – Most of the blur in our picture is actually caused by our inability to reach the shutter button on our smartphone. Therefore giving yourself an extra second or two between pressing the shutter key and the camera taking the picture will less likely result to a blurry photo.

Zoom with your feet

Shooting with your smartphone is like shooting with a DSLR camera with a prime lens (What is a prime lens?) in a sense that it forces us to use the available focal length of our smartphone’s camera. Sure you can always opt to “zoom in” digitally, but unless you’re using a PureView 808 or a Lumia 1020, I think we can all agree that you wouldn’t want to go down that path.

So what do we do? Zoom with our feet, rather than zoom with our camera. Not only will your shots be clearer and crisper compared to when you digitally zoom your camera, but also allow you to get up close and personal with your subject.

Conclusion

There are ton of things that you can do to improve the pictures you take with your smartphone, but the five aforementioned tips should be a good starting point to take your smartphone snaps from good to great.

Tell us what you think about our tips and feel free to share your own tips (if you have any) on the comments field below.

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8 Responses to “From Good to Great: 5 Tips to Improve Smartphone Photos”

  1. weryou@ says:

    Add ko na lang din…

    Experiment with ISO settings.
    Take note of the lighting condition.
    Remember the “one third” rule.
    Know when and when not to use flash.

  2. anony says:

    add ko lang din

    take time in post processing.
    there are so many great photo apps in the market such as snapseed,pxlr, vscocam and more.

    huwag yung add lang ng add ng filter..adjust exposure and sharpness etc

  3. Easy E says:

    What are your suggested photography apps para ma”adjust” ang ISO etc

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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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