GroovyTek | Personal Technology Training

Holiday Photos: How to Get the Best Shot

Thursday, December 05, 2019
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If you’re like most grandparents, you’re counting the hours until you get to be with your grandchildren. If you live far away, this may be the only time of year that you can see them! You want to have lots of memories of the days that you spend together. And what better way to keep these memories fresh than to take photos? You can print them out, frame them, and hang them in your living room. Even if you don’t want to do that, you can scroll through photos on your phone whenever you want to. However, you may be used to taking photographs on a traditional camera. If you don’t have one anymore or don’t feel like developing film, never fear. You can still take great pictures. This is thanks to the fact that today’s smartphones are capable of incredible photo quality. 

When you’re faced with a room full of grandchildren, ready to have their picture taken, what if you freeze up because you don’t know what to do? What if you can’t zoom in or get the flash to work? If you’ve taken a few pictures with a smartphone before, you may be familiar with the principles of pointing and shooting. There’s so much more you can do, though! From selfies to taking family portraits, a smartphone can do it all. If you’d like to figure out how to make the best of your smartphone, we’ve got some tips and tricks below to help you out. 

  • Use a soft cloth on your two camera lenses to make sure they’re clean.

  • Be sure to hold your phone or tablet with two hands. If you shake a little bit, no worries! There are tripods available for phones and tablets to hold your device still.

  • If you like taking selfies, there’s such a thing as a ‘selfie stick!’ It helps position your camera farther away from you so you can see more in the photo.

  • Use the rule of thirds. To do this, imagine four lines. Two lines stretch horizontally across the image. Two lines stretch vertically across it. This creates nine even squares. Some images look better with the subject in the center square. Others look better if the subject is slightly off-center. 

  • Usually, your camera will have all its settings on auto. This means that the focus and the flash will automatically adjust as necessary. You can also make manual adjustments, but the phone will auto-focus for you. You can also tap on the screen where you want the focus to be. That directs the phone’s camera to know what you want to see clearly.

Smartphone cameras have changed many things. The biggest changes involve film. Purchasing film, running out of available shots, or keeping the film from being ruined are problems of the past. With smartphone cameras, you can take pictures to your heart’s content and review them immediately. If you don’t like your photos, delete them and take more! There is a limit to the pictures you can take, though, based on your phone’s storage capacity. 

What if you want to edit your photos though? Once you’ve taken them, you can still make your photos look better. Most phones and tablets have some editing features built-in. After you take the best photo you can, make it better. Lighting, red-eye, and more can be fixed. If you want to make changes, like adding filters for creativity’s sake, you can do it! 

There are many free apps available to supplement your phone’s editing features. These apps often have fancy features available for a fee, too. When downloading apps, check the iTunes app or Google Play first. This depends on whether you have an iPhone or an Android device. 

Basic photo adjustments start with cropping. This allows you to remove the top, bottom, or sides of the image. It also allows you to set the photo in a specific shape, too. You can crop out mistakes, too. If you accidentally put your finger in the corner of the camera lens, crop it out!  

Rotation is another useful adjustment. If the horizon in your picture is off, adjust it so that the photo is straight. If you’d like to get creative, add crazy angles to your photos!

Brightness is a great way to increase the contrast between dark and light elements of the picture. If you increase contrast, light areas become brighter. Dark areas become blacker. 

Filters offer a fun element to your photos. Do you miss Polaroid instant cameras?  Your smartphone can put a filter over your photos to make them look like that! Whether you prefer black-and-white, or Instagram-style overlays, you can pull it off. 

Some of these features are already built into your phone. Others are only available when you download convenient apps. Three of the best apps are Snapseed, PicsArt, and Adobe Photoshop Express.

Snapseed

Snapseed is a free app created by Google. It is well-loved by both iPhone and Android users. It has the ability to filter, crop, rotate, layer, and more. Some of this app’s features make it a favorite of both amateurs and professionals. This app applies automatic quality filters to your photos. You can also make adjustments to color and lighting in real-time. This lets your photo manipulation occur in a very precise way. 

Snapseed’s approach to photo manipulation is useful because you can undo changes. It stores a log of all changes you make to a given photo. In this way, you can go backward in the editing process. 

PicsArt Photo Studio 

This app functions as a photo editor, collage maker, and camera all in one. There are also a lot of stickers and embellishments. This lets PicsArt mimic a digital scrapbook. It’s highly rated because it is very easy to use, which is great for amateur photographers. There is a free version and a paid one. With the free version, you have to put up with some advertisements. It still has more than enough features to keep you busy! 

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe’s app is a scaled-down version of its photo editing software. This app is very rich when it comes to editing features. You can crop, rotate, resize, sharpen, brighten, blur, and more. If you can name it, this app probably does it! It has limitations, such as not being able to upload photos to social media. For a free app, though, it has amazing capabilities. 

Taking advantage of the great options available will make your holiday photos shine. It’ll be easy to discover that your smartphone is a great way to capture memories from your holidays!

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