Not everyone is a professional photographer, nor do they have professional camera equipment, but the mistake that most amateurs make is not knowing enough about how to operate their camera properly – whether it’s the camera built into their cell phone, a pocket camera, a point and shoot or even entry level professional equipment.
Cell phone cameras typically don’t have separate owners manuals dedicated to the camera functions, but you need to know how to select the settings to give you the best results.
It doesn’t matter if you are using an Android or iPhone, understanding the settings is crucial if you want images suitable for printing or posting. First, lets talk about some basics:
Make sure your subject is well lit. Built in flashes are not often reliable … too bright or too dark depending on the subject, distance and ambient light available.
Get close to your subject. Fill the screen with the object or scene you are taking a picture of. If you don’t the object/subject will be too small in the image to see clearly.
Hold still! All too often a great image is ruined because of movement by the one taking the picture. Usually when you are using your finger or thumb to trigger the shutter. Remember most smartphone cameras take the picture when you remove your digit from the screen not when you first touch it. Brace against something to steady the camera if necessary.
Avoid using the Digital Zoom. Digital zoom simply magnifies what the optics is seeing, increasing the size and any distortion.
Keep your lens clean and your fingers out of the camera’s field of view. All too often a great image is poorly lit because the operator had his or her finger in front of the flash or lens.
Take several shots from different angles and check them before moving on to something else. Review the images in the phones gallery function to see if the image is acceptable. If you have any doubt, re-shoot before moving on to something else. It’s hard going back in time to take the image again later.
Select the highest resolution and image size. You can always reduce and re-size in post production at home or on your phone later using the appropriate software or app.
Select the proper Sensitivity … ISO. Most cameras offer the option to select the sensitivity in which the camera sees light. The lower the number the more ambient light is needed. Example, outdoors on a bright sunny da, taking a picture of scenery, you want an ISO 100. If you’re indoors where it is dark or you’re expecting a lot of movement from your subject try using ISO 400. Even if you are using the built-in flash to supplement light.
Use the rules of subject framing – Otherwise known as the rule of thirds. I’ll talk more about that in my next post.
These are but a few suggestions. So now charge up your phone or your camera and review the camera’s different settings. Read the owners manual if it came with one! Practice practice and practice some more. Experiment taking shots of a subject using different settings so you understand how they affect the end result. There are a multitude of online resources out there, so if you have questions do a little reading online or … ask me. Leave me your questions or comments below, I’ll answer you right away.