Capturing the Moments with your Phone

Taking great cell phone picturesI ran across this article in my monthly Costco magazine written by Marc Saltzburg and wanted to share it with you.

THE BEST CAMERA, as they say, is the one you have with you.

Oh sure, your digital-SLR-toting friends might get their lanyards all tied in a knot about you hoist­ing your iPhone or Android device. But smartphone cameras have some advantages when it comes to editing and sharing your work. To help you get more out of your summer “phone-ography:’ consider the following tips and tricks.

Turn the phone sideways. Unless you’re taking a picture of the Empire State Building, use the hori­zontal (“landscape”) orientation when taking a photo, as it will look much better on a computer or television later on (that is, no vertical black bars on each side of the photo). Besides, a landscape photo is better for group shots and scenery, as it gets more into the frame. Speaking of scenery, play around with your phone’s panoramic mode for ultra-wide photos.

Get up close and personal. Don’t be shy. Unless it’s a large, growling dog, there’s no reason to be 5 feet away from your subject. Fill the whole frame with your subjects. Going in closer also means you can capture more facial detail, such as light freckling, a charm­ing dimple or soft, pale blues of the iris. Don’t use your phone’s digital zoom, as it might make your photo look pixelated- get closer yourself. Play around with how close is too close, though, as that “macro” shot of a flower petal might look blurry when you look at it later on.

Use the light around you. Avoid using the flash wherever possible; instead, try to use the light that’s accessible, whether it’s overhead  lighting while indoors or, preferably, the sun outside. Cloudy days are great for photos, as they diffuse the sun.

If the sun is out, be sure your back-and not your subject’s-is to the sun or the subject will look like a blacked-out silhouette. The hour before and after sunset creates gorgeous light for photos.

Be a human tripod. If you can help it, don’t hold your phone at arm’s length when taking photos. You’ll probably shake the phone more than you think, which could result in blurry images. Instead, turn yourself into a human tripod by holding the camera with both hands and pulling your arms into

your chest or stomach. You might look a little silly, but you’ll see the difference with your sturdier grip. Position for composition. Instead of placing your subjects in the center of the frame all the time, move them to the left or right to make your photos instantly more powerful and beautiful. Better yet, go in on an angle to add extra energy to the shot. Also, try to match the height of the subject, such as by kneeling on the ground to snap a picture of a toddler, to ensure you’re at eye level instead of angling up or down.

Have fun with filters. Phone cameras usually include filters as part of the software, but there are numerous apps that can help you easily edit and share photos and videos. Some automatically tweak your shots for better color and brightness. Apps like Instagram can add fun filters, such as a sepia finish or a retro ’70s look. Snapchat adds fun animated effects to your pies. Literally thousands of apps are available, for all platforms, so experiment away.

Back up, back up, back up. There’s nothing worse than losing your smartphone and never hav­ing backed up all those photos on it. There are many ways to back them up. One is to plug your phone into your PC or Mac every night to charge it up, and check off the option to back up everything onto the hard drive.

Another option is to take advantage of a free password-protected “cloud” service like OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive or Google Photos­ and have it upload all of your phone’s photos when­ ever you snap them. To save cellular data, you can select to upload only over Wi-Fi.

Finally, some USB thumb drives are wireless and let you back up photos and videos from a phone. It’s worth safeguarding your memories.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and will try out some of the techniques talked about. Please leave a comment below and tell me what you struggle with.


Last Day for Studio J

Studio J Digital Scrapbooking

We have known this day was coming, the day when Close to my Heart’s digital scrapbook program “Studio J” is leaving us. I have never been a “digital scrapbooker” or had the desire to do digital scrapbooking, I am a paper and ink kind of scrapper. There is nothing like the smell of a new paper pack or the feel of putting embellishments to paper. That being said, I love Studio J for printing pictures. I am not talking about your standard 4″ x 6″ photo, but the 2″ x 2″ – 4″ x 4″ and the 3″ x 4″ photos. Printing them this way preserves the entire picture and simply reduces it’s size to fit as best as can be done.  Why do I tell you this now, when it is on it’s last day?  I want you to go print all those pictures that are not your main focal picture but that you don’t want to leave out of the layout into these wonderfully small images. That is what I am doing today. Take a minute and crop what you want in the picture and then upload into the Studio J website.  Just choose the express collection that has 7 layouts with nothing but photo wells. Here is a previous post about using Studio J.  If you need help today, call me at 801-597-4896 as I will be doing the same thing. Don’t miss out on this last opportunity to get your pictures in this great size! Go to Studio J now!

8 Way to Freshen Up Your Digital Photography

Creativity in Digital PhotographyCreatively is the root of photography today, as settings and props have developed in the 57 years since anyone began taking pictures of me growing up. These suggestions far beyond  reach far beyond the formal pictures of the 1950’s. Here are 8 ways to freshen up your photos.

1.Create a focal point in your pictures- Adjust the depth of your picture. Shoot your children in the foreground in full focus with a blurred picture of the parents in the background. While this adjustment can only be done with SLR cameras, you can achieve a similar effect with a point and shoot and a photo editing software. I use Photoshop Elements  and love it.

2. Take a new look at framing your subject – use the camera view finder and the photo grid, if your camera has one to “crop” the picture as you shoot. for example, instead of shooting the shot of everyone’s head, take a picture of everyone’s feet all lined up, or even shots of eyes… after all, it is said that eyes are the windows to our souls.

3. Get outside!  I know we have been hearing that a lot lately, but so we do our 60 minutes a day of exercise, but a favorite location of professional photographers is outside. Whether catching trees, a lake or even a brick building it lends great detail. Look for interesting color choices, or interesting textures found on sold stucco walls or brick.

4. Use props that show off your subject’s personality. Think of the infant resting on daddy’s arm, showing the contrast in the size of the arm/hand against the baby. Props add contrast and texture against your sleeping infant or child.

5. Tilt your camera! – Tilting your camera adds interest. Rather than shoot your picture strictly vertical or horizontally, tilt the camera slightly. It will take an ordinary picture to extraordinary heights.

6. Photojournalism Approach – Focus on the small details instead of the background shots, think a single blossom, a butterfly, a bow in the hair. If you can get your subjects to forget about the camera, you will get awesome pictures.

7. Focus on real life. – While we all want everything to go as planned, it doesn’t. So when a child starts to cry, or hide behind mom, shoot the picture anyway. Take pictures of your kids deep in concentration. I love those pictures of my grandkids… now if we could just KNOW what was in those little minds 🙂

8. Choose Familiar locations – When a subject is comfortable it shows, just as fear shows in pictures. Pictures next to water when your subject is deathly afraid of water will not give you the quality pictures you desire. Pick a spot they feel comfortable in for calm quality pictures.

What have you found helps when you use your digital camera?  Cell phones today have amazing cameras… tell me about your digital photography below.

Organization in the New Year

Do your photos look like this?
Pile of old black and white family photographs on a table

If you are like me your computer is full of photos, maybe even 2 or 3 copies of the same photograph. I have a goal for this year that you might want to tag along with and that is to organize the photos in your computer (s). I have never been very dilligent when it comes to labeling my photos – thinking there is plenty of time to do that later. Well, since I just found and labeled Christmas 2010 I find that thinking flawed. So as I plan and begin to get all my photographs sorted, I thought I would take you along for the ride.  Please leave comments below if you think it is a good idea, have a suggestion about how I am doing it – I don’t think of everything, and if so inclined, work on yours along with me. I will set aside 15 minutes each day to sort photos. Life is busy and it is easy to get lost in old photographs. As you may know, I am a traditional scrapbooker, but I will also upload some pictures for Studio J Digital Photographs, which can simply be added to an album when printed.

I truly believe all photos should be backed up to the web, because of a failed external drive and not having a clue what pictures I may have lost. However, Cloud storage got me where I am today – lots of clouds with no sort of organization. Making sure your storage on your computer is available is really the first step. I found lots of unused storage on mine.  You will want to download all your photos from the various clouds you have them stored in. After we clean up the copies so there is just one of each, labeled and tagged, I will upload the entire lot to Amazon because as a Prime member, you have unlimited storage of photos.

Here are the first steps to an organized set of photos:First Steps to Organizing your Photos

  1. Write down all the clouds you have photos on – we will use this later
  2. Starting with the pictures that are currently stored on your computer.  (In my case, I have 2 computers and 3 external drives.) I am using my laptop as “home base” as it is the easiest to use while watching tv with the family or not just sitting at my desk.
  3. Create a few main files, Mine are listed as “People 1/1/2016,Misc Pics 1-1-2016 and Craft 1-1-2016.” These will be further sorted later, but this is my first step. Duplicates are easier to find if in the same folders.
  4. Spend 15 minutes to sort pictures on your computer into these files. I suggest setting a timer since it is easy to get lost in this process.
  5. After your 15 minutes are up, Take a look in each folder, do you see duplicates yet? If so, delete one of the photos after making sure your information like date picture taken, or tags have been added to the picture you are keeping. Also delete any blurry pictures if you can’t identify what it was you were trying to take a picture of.

This step will keep you busy until next Saturday morning when we will start dealing with the clouds. If your weather is really cold, this is a great way to still make good use of your time.