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.


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