Posts tagged phone
Taking photos on our phones is quick, simple and can be instantly shared with others. The fact that cameras on mobile phones are now of a pretty decent standard we have more opportunity to capture moments as they happen without needing to carry around a “proper” camera – and we can keep and even print those shots. I love taking photos on my phone, it’s so convenient; I can snap away to my heart’s content in all situations, be creative whenever the mood takes me, and have stills to help remind me of nice things.
There are a number of simple tips and tricks that can help us to make the most of our phone cameras. I use an iPhone and so these things may well be specific to that, but you’ll find the functionality is useful across any and probably all decent phones out at the moment. And of course the art of taking a nice photograph is the same regardless of which device you are using. I thought I’d share my best practice ideas with you (and some of my photos too) – I hope you find them useful.
Clean the Lens
First things first. Before you attempt to take any photograph on your phone, turn your phone over and give the lens a wipe. Phones get finger prints all over them, and one across your lens will turn the best photo into a blurry mess – it’s like looking through a car window with rain spots and handprints all over it. Use your t-shirt (or a nice lens cloth) to give it a quick clean and you’re ready to go.
Generally speaking phones have a centred focus point. On an iPhone you can choose exactly where to focus by tapping the screen where you want that focus point to be. This is great for landscapes with people in – you can have the people on the left of the shot in focus by simply tapping on them. It’s also good for shots of people and pets; the most pleasing shots will have the eye in focus, so tap on the eye when taking the picture to get the best focus point.
One thing I see a lot is people talking photos while walking along or moving about, or with one hand waving about all over the place. I don’t know about you but if I did that my photos would be totally blurry – and I suspect theirs are too! Stand still, hold your phone with both hands, lean against something if you need to, breath in, hold your breath for a second, take the shot.
Keep it Straight
Remember that the lens on your phone is in one corner – it’s not in the middle. So look at the screen and make sure you have it straight! You can turn on the grid to help with this and also your general composition.
Please (please please) don’t pinch to zoom. Phone cameras are only equipped with digital zoom. All this does is increase the pixel size so you end up with a shot that is blocky and very difficult to get in focus. If you want a close up shot the best thing is to move! Simply get closer to your subject. Alternatively, if moving closer is impossible, take it as you are and crop later.
All About Light
The most important element in any photograph is the light. Your flash won’t help you get a nice bright shot, it will only fill a very small area in the centre of your frame (and give any people in the shot red eyes and ghostly white faces). What you need is light all around – the more light, the easier it is to get things in focus. Natural light beats artificial light any day of the week – the bulb in your living room light fitting just won’t do the same job as the big yellow thing in the sky outside (even on a cloudy day), so get outside whenever you can. You can’t generally alter ISO settings on your camera phone, so make the most of the light around you; keep it behind or above you and on your subject, and watch out for your own shadow. Also be mindful of lens flare which I find more prevalent when using my phone to take shots. You can use light to your creative advantage too, of course – silhouettes can be pleasing to look at, but if you take a shot of your best friend and they’re all dark and shaded the shot is useless. Night time shots taken on iPhones can look fabulous, but the shutter will stay open for longer so make sure you keep still – experiment with focussing on light areas and dark areas of your shot to get different effects.
Taking the Shot
A useful thing to know is that an iPhone does not take your photo until you take your finger off the shutter button. So you can get yourself set up and sorted, stick your finger on the button, and gently release it to take your shot when you are ready. I’m sure you all know that the + button on the side of your iPhone also works as a shutter button for when you have the camera in the landscape orientation – but did you now that the + button on your headphones also works? This is absolutely brilliant if you are prone to camera shake, and a really great tip if you are trying to use your phone to take a shot over other people’s heads or at a funny angle. If you’re in a rush to open your camera app also remember that you can swipe up on the camera icon on the locked screen which overrides the need to put in your unlock code, getting you access to your camera (and only your camera) nice and quickly.
Oh, and if you want to edit your photographs – crop them, tune them, alter the colours, add filters – then I recommend Snapseed as the most useful app out at the moment. I always take my photographs using the phone’s own camera function (not from within other apps), as this gives you the largest file size possible, and it’s always good to keep the original. Then I open my shot in Snapseed and play about as I want to. I like to use a square format and so I will use Snapseed to crop, and dependent on the shot and what I’m going to use it for I’ll also change the brightness, contrast, saturation, focus point, add tilt shift, and whatever else I think is appropriate. Snapseed can help turn a mediocre shot into a really great one. But it can also turn a really great shot into an awful one, so don’t go too overboard!
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course the best thing about having a camera phone is that you can take loads (and loads) of photographs and decide which is the best later. Snap away to your heart’s content and learn as you practice. Photography on a smartphone is fun, you can get some fabulous shots worthy of the wall as well as some silly shots to share on facebook. It’s quick, easy and very convenient. So keep it in hand and document your life. You’ll be thankful in a few year’s time when you want to walk down memory lane.
I like to share my photographs on instagram – it’s a lovely way to share and view squared up phone snaps. I’m Splodz over there – give me a follow and let me know your instagram name below.
Oh… And to help us all improve, please add your own phone photography hints and tips in the comments box below. Cheers!
Docks are designed to allow you to sync and charge your phone while it is sat upright on your desk or bedside table. This one (showing off my very dusty iPhone!) is from Mobile Fun.
The dock is good for charging and syncing your phone with your computer, as well as plugging into the mains to charge quicker. It comes with a fairly short lighting to USB cable (also black – it’s long enough to go from the floor to my desk) which is useful, but not the USB mains adapter. The dock is small and actually looks great in glossy black – it has a non-slip base and has a good weight to it.
I’m impressed with how sturdy my phone is when sat in the dock. I worry about things like this being unstable or a bit precarious, and as a result breaking either the lightning connector or connection inside my phone. But this is very solid and my phone clips on very positively and doesn’t wobble around at all. Good.
I’ve now got this sat on my desk at work – my phone can charge and I can see the screen, there’s also no chance it’ll get accidentally swiped off my desk or lost under a pile of papers (not that I ever have massive piles of papers on my desk – if I can’t see the table there’s a good chance I’m stressed!). I can’t decide whether it’s most useful there or at the computer at home, I might need to buy another one. Thankfully they are a lower price than the official Apple ones at £21.95.
You can get a range of iPhone 5 docks from Mobile Fun.
One of the problems with upgrading to the iPhone 5 or the new iPad is that because Apple changed to their new lightning connection, using old accessories requires new cables or adapters (or new accessories entirely).
Whether you believe lightning is genuinely better (faster, smaller, etc) or that it’s just an exercise to make our old accessories defunct, the fact remains the same for all, and it makes upgrading to a new Apple product more expensive than simply the price on the ticket. Whether it’s a sound dock, a car charger, or the extra cable you bought so you had one at home and at work, it all adds up.
It’s taken a few months, but “fake” lightning cables and adapters are now available to us. Mobile Fun sent me one of their lightning to USB cables to try out. It retails at just over half the price of the Apple genuine one (£11.97 instead of £19.95) and so represents a significant saving, but I was very interested to see if the quality was there.
The cable itself is very slightly shorter than the genuine Apple one I got with my iPhone 5 – 104cm vs 106cm, so not enough to make a real difference (unless you really need that extra two cm!). The plastic coated cable is (again, very slightly) thicker, and the casing for the connections at either end is more bulky and feels cheaper. The lightning connection itself looks a bit different – it’s not as smooth or refined, again seems more cheaply made. The below photo shows the genuine Apple cable on the right, and the copy on the left.
But the proof is in the using… and I can confirm that it works. I used this cable with no problems to charge my phone from the computer and using the mains adapter, and synced my phone with iTunes too and it didn’t complain. I also checked it worked with LincsGeek’s iPad (my pad is an old iPad 2, and it does feel old I have to say!) and it’s fine there too. It is perfect to keep plugged into the computer for charging/syncing, leaving the one that came with my phone for in the office.
I admit I would generally rather by the real thing when it comes to my tech, but there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell with this cable and why spend £20 when you can spend £12 and still have the same functionality. For something like a cable and similar accessories then copies like this one make so much sense. I’ll let you know how it holds up compared to my Apple one after a year of use!
Update 27th January
Since writing this review I have realised that while this lightening cable does work for both charging and data exchange, most of the time it only works one way around. One of the good things about the new Apple lightening connector is that it is not supposed to matter which way in you put it – there is no right way. But this cable only seems to work if you get the cable in the “right way round”. I say most of the time as on occasion it does work both ways, it’s very strange. This could of course be this particular cable rather than a problem with all of them, but I thought I would put a note here to tell you. The cable is still very useful, and I am continuing to use it.
Technology – A man driving a really old tractor whilst on his mobile phone at the Lincolnshire Show today.
Use the tag SnapHappyBritMums here on Splodz Blogz to find all the photos from this challenge.
I spotted this in a tweet today and wow, I want one.
Pebble is a watch that you can customise by installing your choice of apps, and that connects to your smartphone (iOS or Android) using bluetooth.
With a high resolution e-paper display (like you get on Kindle) it promises to be sharp and very easy to read, even in bright sunshine.
Apart from looking great, the main feature of Pebble is that you can install and run apps on it much like you do on your smartphone. These then connect to your phone which you can have safely in your pocket or bag when out and about or in your music dock at home. At the basic level that means you can choose what sort of watch face to have on it – analogue or digital – I love the centre display on in the photo above. It also means you can use it with the GPS on your phone as a cycle computer or to track your running. You can use the buttons on the side to control your music, quickly read your text messages and see who is calling you.
And it’ll go seven days on one charge.
Take a look:
Only problem with all this? It’s not actually available yet. I don’t totally get the Kickstarter project idea but I think it’s about you pledging money to help get this product made, but you don’t actually pay anything unless the project actually gets off the ground. I really hope it does, I think what they’ve got here is an awesome idea. I’ll let you know when it’s in the shops.
Find out more about Pebble on the Kickstarter website, and let me know if you’ll be backing it.