I am not a photographer. Perhaps you’ve noticed, eh? But my search to take better pictures has led to a few tricks that can help you take better pictures with your smartphone instantly. If you take a better pictures the first time, you’ll have fewer crappy pictures on your camera roll, and less to organize. Sound good?
1. Before you take the photo on your mobile phone or tablet, tap on the screen, preferably on some text if there’s any in the shot. That little tap will focus the picture and, even after your hand jiggles a bit, you’ll get a better focused shot that won’t be fuzzy.
2. Tap in several different places on the screen to adjust the exposure. If you always seem to take dark pictures, this little trick is brilliant for you. Tap into a dark area of the screen, and it should lighten up the entire picture. Sometimes it will lighten it up way too much, and you can just tap into another, not quite so dark area of the shot. Keep tapping until you have the right lighting (exposure) for the subject you are trying to capture. This works on iPhones, iPads, and some but not all Android cameras. I demonstrate these first two tips in a quick little video on how to take better smartphone photos (click here).
3. Are your pictures always blue-ish or yellow-isht? On a fancier phone, you might have a button to change the white balance. Florescent light usually casts a blue tint; incandescent light casts a yellow tint. What you really want is daylight, full-spectrum lighting with a neutral, “just right” look, but you don’t always have that. Go into your settings button on your phone and look for the white balance setting, then adjust it for the kind of room you are in, before you take a bazillion bad pictures. You shouldn’t need to do this all the time, but it is worth doing if you are taking a lot of pictures inside a setting like a museum or at a party, and you don’t want to correct the pictures later. Just remember to change the settings back after your event.
4. Phones aren’t just for snapping anymore. You can edit photos right in the phone, so you have a good copy to share or store. Rather than taking up space with bad photos, find and use a good editing app to help you keep only the best photos. Start by getting to know the editing buttons right on your native photos app. Apple users can crop, lighten/darken the exposure, fix blemishes and fix red eye right inside the Photos app on your phone. Apple has even recently added text overlays. Android users also have a ton of editing options in your Android Photos or Google Photos app. I usually do heavy edits on my PC, but it’s become so much easier to do light edits using apps like A Beautiful Mess and PicCollage. Here’s a screen shot of some photo editing apps currently on my iPad.
5. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you might have noticed this little phrase right above your shutter button, HDR on or off. I researched to learn that it’s a camera tool to help a picture that has high contrast (very light and grey dark areas in the same shot) give a better-than-average finished photo. If you know that the light in the background of the photo is going to throw everything else in the shot into shadow, then turn on HDR. HDR is also a helpful option when you are taking shots of moving subjects, like wriggling puppies. Or kids. Or chickens. Otherwise, turn it off.
6. What about the new LIVE photos? Uhg. I am not a fan! Apple’s LIVE photos takes three shots within 3 seconds and loops them into a GIF, but did you really want all GIF’s? That’s just more to organize and suck up your storage. Most people don’t realize they are even taking these photos, or they thought they turned it off, but it keeps coming back on. I recommend turning off LIVE photos for good by going into your settings with these instructions. You have to make the changes stick by going into Settings>>Camera>>Preserve Settings. Android users don’t have this problem, apparently, although they have something new called motion stills.
These tips are for just about everyone, If you have a smartphone in your pocket, it’s worth using these tips.
Is there something that confuses you and confounds you about your smartphone camera? Let me know in the comments. You are definitely NOT alone! With software updates coming fast and furious, it’s hard to keep up with how to work your camera. It almost makes you want to go back to the good old days of film, right?