8 TIPS FOR TAKING BETTER PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

They say the best camera is the one you have on you. Most people have a phone on them, and therefore a great camera. ( I have a friend who has a flip-phone, but that’s another story!) As photographers, we are so lucky to be able to have these powerful cameras that just slip into our pockets or bags. It’s a modern miracle!

Phone cameras are great, but you have to treat them like a camera, not a phone, to get the best out of them.

Redfern Sydney 2013. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Redfern Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

use the front camera

Your front camera is going to be way better than your back camera. For example, here are the tech details on my Samsung Galaxy S7:

Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP
Front: 5MP

More than double the megapixels. It is going to produce sharper and better images. Unless it is selfie-time, use your main camera to capture as much detail as possible.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

CLEAN THE LENS

Sound basic right? Fingerprints easily get on the lens, just by holding your phone. A quick wipe will guarantee you are not getting that David Hamilton look. I use and recommend a t-shirt. Haha.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

FIND THE GOOD LIGHT

Shooting in shadows or in full bright sunlight are going to do nothing for your images-especially if you are photographing yourself or others. Look for light shade, indoors with some soft light coming through curtains.

Harsh shadows, unless you are going for a high-contrast image, are not going to look great when shooting people or flowers for example.

Avoid using the flash. Generally the flash is just going to ‘blow-out’ your image and it will look terrible.

Shooting at sunset or sunrise is always going to produce better images too.

Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

reduce saturation PLEASE!

Nine time out of ten, you are going to want to reduce the saturation of your images slightly. Nothing screams inexperienced like oversaturated images. Hit that slider and calm the image down a little. You will always have a better looking shot by reducing saturation. Please. Nobody likes having their retinas burnt out by oversaturated images.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

KEEP YOUR PHONE ROCK STEADY

Nobody likes unintentionally blurred images. If you are going for a longer exposures, use a mini tripod or rest your phone on a park bench, post or against a tree. I love my mini tripod- it just goes in my pocket.

Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

don’t zoom

You will destroy your image quality. Simple as that. Zoom with your feet. That said, zooming a tiny amount will reduce distortion, I have found, when shooting portraits.

Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.
Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.

USE AN APP OR PRO MODE

Unless your phone has ‘PRO’ mode, (or even if it does) The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor is amazing for shooting with complete control over shooting and for editing. It is available free for Android and IOS.

If your camera has a “PRO’ mode, use it to really take control of your photos. A whole world opens up to new possibilities when you don’t rely on Auto.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

think like a pro

By this I mean, look for different angles, (high, low) shoot through other objects like door frames (frames within frames), leading lines (like a garden path, or a row of trees). Use dynamic angles (tilt your phone). Get creative.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

CONCLUSION

If you think like you are using a ‘real’ camera, you will get more from your photos. If you have the attitude: ‘this is just a photo on my phone’ then that is all you will achieve. Clean your ‘camera’, get creative, play with apps and editing, keep your camera steady and watch those saturation levels.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

First Roll On Instax Mini 70 Instant Film Camera

Recently shot my first roll of film on my new instax Mini 70 instant film camera by FujiFilm. It’s been a long time since I was excited by a new camera, but this one is so much fun.

My dad had a Polaroid camera back in the 70’s, and I always loved playing with it (film must have been cheaper back then!) Watching the image appear slowly was/is magical.

The camera gives a unique softness, which is highly flattering. It was also great to be able to give my model a few shot on the day, which is really cool.

It also creates an original piece of art- never to be created again-just like a real film camera. These scans are not the greatest, the images are a little crisper in real life.

Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.

I won’t go into to much technical details, but it has several modes including Landscape, Macro, High Key and Selfie Mode and Timer Mode. Built in flash (which in this model you cannot turn off, but will not fire in bright light) which can be srt to Fill In Light.

Film is not super-expensive- around $1.00 per shot, a little more for monochrome. It does not give super-sharp images, but they are really nice, business card sized photos.

There is nothing to really dislike about it. Yes, there are some better models with multiple shots (double exposure and an option to turn off the flash- the INSTAX Mini 90. But I bought this cheap off eBay, just to see if I liked using it.

It takes me back to the 70’s, and for that, I love this little yellow camera.

Do you have one? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

Editing In Adobe Camera Raw

I love Adobe Camera Raw. Most, sometimes all of my photo editing gets done in Raw. Because I only shoot in RAW format, Camera Raw is a perfect program to do all my editing in.

Originally, I loved developing my images very naturalistic, but now I love a bit of punch and the program makes it so easy to create the style I like, and more importantly, to apply that style across many images.

This is not a tutorial, as a celebration of such as simple and powerful program.

Before and after.

I find it easy to pull all the images in a set into Camera Raw, selecting all, and adjusting one image, while applying my changes to all images at once. Then, I go back and tweak each slightly.

Yes, this can be done in Lightroom too, but the interface and simplicity of Raw is just hard to beat. It is simple, clean and fast.

Of course, Camera Raw is non-destructive, and all edits are saved alongside the original RAW file.

Two lots of presets I created. One warmer tones, and one cooler look.
Creating a warmer look. (Border done in Photoshop)
Getting punchier and stronger images instantly by creating presets and applying them.
One the left, the original image, on the right, applying some simple adjustments to create a stronger, more dynamic image.

Do you love Adobe Camera Raw as much as I do? Let me know, I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, best wishes,

Don