There is an old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. Well, I definitely believe there's some truth to that. Therefore, the best camera for about 99% of people these days is the one on their cell phone. Ever since phones starting shipping with built-in cameras the number of photos taken every year has increased to the hundreds of billions. Facebook alone recently reported approximately 300 million photos added every day during months in 2012. Instagram boasts 45 million photos per day and 16 billion photos shared. So lots of people are taking photos and lots of people are taking photos with their cell phones. But if you’re frustrated with taking great shots of sunsets, or just want some ideas to improve your cell phone photos, take a look at these tips.
1. GET YOUR SUBJECTS IN THE LIGHT!
Now this doesn't mean to tell your subjects to go "into" the light. That's totally something altogether different. Smartphones and cheaper digital cameras are notorious for having lenses and image sensors that just don’t capture light as well as professional systems. The answer is, simply, to move your subject into better lighting. Who ever said you have to take a photo exactly where your subjects are standing? Move them around, arrange them closer to light sources, or turn on any available lights nearby. A window, a room light, heck, even a flashlight can work in the right situation. The right light can make all the difference.
2. Avoid Squinting Eyes
When you are outside on a bright day, don’t have your subject facing the sun. If you do, they’re likely to be squinting. And, sunglasses don’t always make the best portraits. Unless, like mine, your sung less make you look like Maverick in Top Gun. If you're that cool... and I am, sunglasses can work. If sunglasses are not adding to your photo, and they're probably not, turn your subjects so the sun is to their side (not back), and, if you can, use flash to soften the shadow since most phones these days have a flash of some sort.
3. Shoot On Cloudy Days
When you get up and see clouds outside and you know you're going to be taking pictures, don't worry, cloudy days make for great photos! When there is cloud cover, you essentially have an enormous soft box above your subjects. Cloud cover can create nice even lighting free of harsh shadow areas. Even cheap, or, eh, inexpensive cameras can take great pictures in even lighting.
4. Change Your Image Quality
Your phone should let you set the image quality of your photos. Look at the settings for your camera and set to the highest quality resolution you can. When you increase the resolution, you’ll use up the memory on your phone a lot quicker. But if you want higher quality images to work with, and possibly make prints from, you’ll want to max out the camera’s capable resolution.
5. Make Sure Your Image Is In Focus
Now I'm about to share a tip with you that will change your phone photography life. This is a doozy that most people don't know. It will, without a doubt, help you take better pictures and let you know why some of those photos that you love aren't turning out. Now this is true on the iPhone, but I can't guarantee it's use on other cell phones. On the iPhone, your camera is taking the photo when you take your finger OFF the shutter button, not when you initially push it. That means to take a faster, in focus photo, you can put your finger on the button and then release it when you're ready to capture the image. The camera will respond much faster, take the exact image you want and it will most likely be more in focus because you won't have moved your camera thinking the photo was taken when you initially pushed the button. Unless you’re looking to create moody, Impressionistic types of images that lack detail, you’ll want to be sure your camera is in focus before taking the shot. Watch the LCD display. Wait for the subject to be in focus. Then take the shot.
6. Download A Camera App
I counted... there are officially 1,352,746 camera apps available in iTunes. Many of them are garbage, but a lot of them can really help you take your photos to the next level. Apps can help you selectively focus areas in your image, control exposure, color balance, and even make your subjects look like cartoons, if for some reason you wanted to do that. I’ve messed around with several for the iPhone including Camera+, ProCamera, and even the program I talked about last week, Perfectly Clear, has a iPhone version that is really good and can really do wonders to your photos.
I hope these tips give you some ideas. If you’ve got additional questions on taking better photos with your smartphone, send me an email, otherwise, get out there and take some photos... with whatever camera you have with you.