With the holidays upon us, you are no doubt taking a lot more photographs to document special moments. Using a smartphone for day to day photography is appealing because it is both convenient and discreet. If you are like most people, your phone goes with you everywhere. You can take a picture at a moment’s notice. The camera on a smartphone is also less likely to attract attention than a huge DSLR camera which is great when you are trying to capture candids.
The downside to using a smartphone to take photographs is that the sensor size on the cameras are tiny and the quality of your photographs can be low. There is no vibration reduction so photographs can look blurry if you move a little. The camera app that comes with your phone may have very few options, making it difficult to get the photograph you want.
All that said, there are plenty of ways to tweak your phone and compose your pictures to improve your results. Here are a few tips to help you get perfect holiday photos with your smartphone’s camera:
- Don’t use digital zoom! The zoom on your camera will only pixelate your image. Use your feet to zoom instead for a high resolution close-up. You can also try out an optical zoom lens. They can be purchased for around $15 and usually come with a tripod.
- Speaking of zoom, get close to your subject. A close-up can turn a snapshot into a truly beautiful photograph.
- Get out of the habit of putting your subject dead center. Placing your subject off center adds a lot of interest to your photograph.
- Let there be light! Smart phone cameras do not perform well in low light conditions. When possible, take your photos in natural light. If you are indoors, get close to a window. If a window is not an option, turn on as many lights as possible. This will reduce blur and give you a better exposure.
- Be still. Smart phone cameras are sensitive to shake. Lean against a wall or support your arm on a table to reduce shakiness. You can invest in a small tripod if you want guaranteed steadiness.
- Use the camera on the back of your phone whenever possible. The front facing camera is going to be a lower quality camera than your back facing camera.
- Play with accessories! You can pick up a set of lenses for your smart phone for under $10 and they can be a lot of fun. You can really get some unique and creative results.
- Adjust your settings. Make sure your phone is taking high resolution photographs. Set your white balance to match the lighting. Set your focus to match your situation. Auto will work for most situations. Use macro for close-ups, infinity for landscapes, and continuous for moving subjects. Remember to tap to focus on the main subject of your image. Adjust your ISO according to your situation. Use lower numbers for brightly lit areas and higher numbers for low light situations.
- Try an after-market camera app. Many have a lot of fun options for taking better and more creative photos with your phone. Try A Better Camera or Open Camera for Android and Camera+ for iPhone.
- Use a photo editing app. Two words: blemish removal. If that isn’t enough, you can fix problems with exposure and white balance after the fact if you didn’t get it right the first time and you can get creative with effects, frames, stickers, and filters. Aviary (an Adobe product) and Snapseed are two excellent and free options.
These tips will help you take the perfect candid holiday photos with your smartphone. Comment with your holiday photos below!