Be a Better Photographer- Tips for #PicYourCity



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With the launch of #PicYourCity and the opportunity to compete for a trip to the SMW city of your choice this February, we thought we could all use a nice review (or crash course) on how to better use your smartphone camera. With the increasing applications and better cameras on our mobile devices, the images produced can be inspiring. So, here are our 10 tips to being a better mobile photographer.

Think & Compose Your Shot

1. Consider perspective.
When taking photos of tall objects, structures, landscapes, etc., use people to help give a sense of the height and width.

2. Consider composition techniques.
There’s the commonly used “Rule of Thirds.” With this technique you split the frame into nine squares- three vertical sections and 3 horizontal sections- forming a grid. There’s a sweet spot where our eyes are drawn to. Place the subject there, as Adam Dachis shows in this image.

There’s also the Fibonacci spiral. A touch more technical, the smallest point is the prime location to place any subject. Our eyes naturally go there. (Not sure what a Fibonacci spiral is? It looks like this.)

3. Consider lighting.
The best option tends to be to shoot with the light behind you, hitting your subject. If the light is coming from behind your subject, it makes it harder for you to see and creates a backlit effect. Then don’t forget to consider timing of day. Early morning or late evening lighting can brighten an average photo.

4. Consider the flash.
The love-hate relationship with the flash. A flash can wash out your image or cause red-eye, but conversely it can provide the needed lighting in a dark setting or in daytime to avoid dark shadows. Keep in mind that your flash generally won’t work beyond 12 feet. So, use it only when appropriate, or consider diffusing by placing white paper over it.

5. Consider the angle.
Going for a candid? Hold the phone near your waist or at waist-level for the best angle. You may have to play the numbers game and keep snapping to get the best shot but it’ll be more candid and honest than walking around with your phone at eye-level.

6. Consider the environment.
Are you shaking? Are your hands steady? Is the wind blowing? All these can factor in. Lean against a sturdy object, balance on something else or use objects to block the wind. All this can help improve your shot. Bonus tip here- if you know you’re camera’s response time, you know how long to steady yourself as you take your shot. Most cameras have a small delay between when hit the button to snap the image and when it’s taken. Those few seconds of being steady can get you the best image possible.

Know Your Equipment

7. Consider your lens.
How often do you clean off the lens on your phone? It’s a simple and smart move to make sure your get a crisp image. For those of us used to wearing glasses, you know the importance of a soft cloth. For those not, a soft microfiber cloth will prevent scratching.

8. Consider (or avoid) the mobile zoom.
Instead of diluting your resolution, move closer yourself. The image will improve drastically. In most cases, avoid the zoom.

9. Consider your focus.
On your phone you can lock your exposure and focus in. Tap on the screen to set where you want your exposure and focus. Once the box “blinks,” it’s locked. If you want to get extra fancy, there are some apps, like ProCamera, that can help. In addition, your resolution plays a big part. So, once you’ve locked and focused in, go for a larger photo setting to get the most detail in your image.

10. Consider your camera settings.
Want that crisp image of something small and obscure? Most phones have Macro mode. However, this won’t work for landscape and portrait shots- they just tend to become a touch blurry. Many phones also have camera settings for daylight, fluorescent, and even landscapes. Make sure you investigate and see what’s most appropriate for the shot you’re seeking.

Copyright William Starkey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

With a month to go, we couldn’t be more excited to see how you see our 10 host cities. So, grab your phones and get snapping! For more tips and inspiration, we’ve listed below some other links to get you on your way. See you on Twitter!

Get inspired:
I Love Photography
Interview with Nick Ut, the Photojournalist Who Shot the Iconic “Napalm Girl” Photo
Famous Photogs Pose With Their Most Iconic Images
How To Find the Courage To Be Creative
InstagramYourCity Finalists

Want more tips? We recommend these:
Photography Tips & Tricks For The Average Person
Mobile Photo Tips
Nine Tips for Taking a Better Photo With a SmartPhone

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