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How to Take Amazing Photos With Your Smart Phone

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by Lesley Mitchell (subscribe)
Author/lecturer/Intuitive/Natural Therapist/Artist/Soap-Maker/Chef. WEBS: or Also find us under RenascentBathBody or RenascentCollege on eBay, Patreon, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram
Published September 27th 2012
Learn how to take the best pics ever snapped on your phone
Have you ever found yourself out and about without a camera as perhaps you simply don't want to announce to the world that you are a tourist with a huge camera bag. Or perhaps you are off to a local nightclub and all you have to get the perfect photo of the neon-lit people outside is your phone.

Beautiful photos in very low light
Copyright Lesley Mitchell

Your mobile phone can now be the perfect tool for snapping spontaneous moments without any fuss. You just need to understand a few simple techniques to get the most out of your phone camera.

I would like to share with you some simple techniques to make the most of your camera phone and your images and then share them with friends or post online, whether you have an iPhone, Android phone or outdated Nokia from 1990.

Here's a few of the tips and techniques I have picked up for getting the most out of a phone camera:

There is nothing worse than taking a photo and having your image look like it was taken in the middle of fog. Look into your camera settings - you will often find them by pressing an icon which looks like a cog. Alternatively if you go into the camera program itself, there is often an edit feature at the top of each image you can use.

Within this location you can turn the contrast higher to make your photographs look richer or less washed out, or make people being photographed more flattering .

You can also change the picture settings to a higher size and higher quality which removes a grainy appearance.

A grainy appearance needing freshening

A quick touch of the magic wand icon and looking much better

Generally when working with light, the more you can get, the better it is. However if you were unable to get high-quality pictures and your camera has no flash, you may only produce pictures that are dark and washed out. Keep them anyway!

There are many photo-editing apps which can brighten up your images and make them look fresh and amazing again.

When taking photographs, ask the person in the image to move into the light as much as possible, ensuring that the light is on them rather than behind them, which causes shadows.

You may have to move around your person a little, move to the other side of them so that even a pale light is coming from behind, which you can get to shine on them.

Position the lens of your camera at the darkest part of the image which will allow it to focus and compensate for low light creating a brighter image.

A common problem in using a phone camera is that the shutter speed can lag a little bit, so it takes the picture a little while after the pretend shutter has sounded.

A quick way to get around this is to count to 3 for your subject, but take a picture on one or two and keep still for a moment after you've pressed the button, so that your person thinks the photo is still being taken. This technique will also allow you often to catch people before they pose getting your photograph at a more natural time.
Catching fast moving children on the fly in china
Copyright Lesley Mitchell

Sometimes when you're on the go with your phone camera, it is difficult to stop shaking and you end up with ghostly or faded out images that seem blurred.

One way around this is to place the hand you are holding the phone in against a wall, a bench or a table. If nothing is available perhaps hold your elbows against your hipbones to stop shaking.

When you depress the shutter button, hold it down for a second longer than usual to help you keep still and make up for any shutter lag that might take place. A photographer who is a friend of mine told me that it helps if you breathe out as you press the button to keep your photographs steady and stable. If you have the option of a timer on your camera, that can also be a great idea by placing it on a bench or a wall and allowing the timer to work for you.

Things getting in the way
After accidentally smashing the glass on my iPhone in my handbag and having to pay a small fortune to have it replaced by Apple, I purchased a rather sturdy case so that could not happen again. However the back flap on the case constantly gets in the way of the camera and I have to be very careful that it does not take away part of the image I am photographing.

External sources of lights can also flare up in your photographs and create a fog across the image, especially if you are photographing glass images or if your subject is standing in front of a pane of glass.

One way of getting around this is to shade the top of your camera with a book or your hand almost like a cover on the side to stop the light coming in.

Photos darkened from too strong lighting

Composing your image
In photography, there is a simple rule of using thirds. It is best not to place your subject right in the middle of the image but to the side, one third of the way in.

Using apps to make your images spectacular

There are many amazing apps that now abound to create masterpieces out of your holiday snapshots. Some of these include Instagram and Pixlr-o-matic, Photoshop Express allows you to to crop, brighten and touch up your shots. Others include: camera, pro camera, hipstamatic, magic shutter (perfect for low light), ProHDR, Filterstorm just to name a few.

You may also like turn on GPS in your camera settings if you wish to make a note of your location details which will enable you to pinpoint them later and map your travels everywhere along your journey.

Do you have an app or a technique you love to use?

Please share it with us in this review by adding a comment in the "comments" tab.

Amazing enhancements in images *copyright rob Adams from theadamsfactory
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Why? Turn your holiday snapshots into masterpieces
When: Anytime, day or night
Cost: Free or a few $ for apps
Your Comment
Terrific tips Lesley, I need to remember these!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11096) 2301 days ago
Thanks for the tips!
by Jennifer Muirhead (score: 3|1065) 2297 days ago
What an excellent read! I've been traveling heaps, and even though I make it fairly obvious that I'm a tourist, I absolutely loathe being 'the one who always snaps a pic!', so thank you for such a great article! :D
by Tema (score: 2|762) 2254 days ago
I have an iPhone 3GS (yes I know behind the times and plan to update soon) but I have checked Settings and the photos and camera sections but cannot find anything along the lines of what you mentioned for improving the colour and size of the photos. Can you perhaps steer me in the right direction?
by bdaniel (score: 0|2) 2297 days ago
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