Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News

Take better smartphone photos

Oct 31, 2017 11:59PM ● By Adam Cochran

If you want to see your grandkids turn pale and lightheaded, just tell them about the days of 24-exposure film rolls that cost money to purchase and process. Tell them how you had no idea whether your photos came out until a week after you took them. Relate tales of a world without autofocus.

Today’s smartphone cameras may not have high zoom lenses, but they are superior to the point-and-shoot cameras of the past in almost every other way. That is, if you know the tricks for getting great photos.

As your family gathers for the holidays, these tips for better smartphone images may come in handy.

Touch the screen

Cameras determine all of the fancy exposure settings by evaluating how the light comes through the lens. As smart as phone cameras are, they have no idea what you are trying to photograph. If you try to take a picture of a sunset, your camera will set the light sensitivity settings to the mountains below, and vice versa.

On your screen, touch the area you want your camera to pay attention to. It will adjust its settings to that area. Take multiple pictures until you get the perfect shot.

Use your buttons

Most people tap their phone’s on-screen button to take a photo, but it’s hard to do one-handed. Every smartphone I’m aware of lets you to use one of the phone’s physical buttons to take a picture.

On iPhones, press either volume button to take a picture. If you are an Android user, check your online manual.

Shoot video the right way

We usually use our phones vertically, but our televisions are horizontal rectangles. When you shoot videos holding your phone vertically, you wind up with black bars on both sides of your screen. If the video appeared on a TV screen, only one-third of it would have video on it—the other two-thirds would be black.

Shoot better video by rotating your phone 90 degrees so it’s horizontal—it will capture the experience with more fidelity.

Try some cool apps

There are thousands of smartphone apps for photos and video. Some let you manually adjust your camera, some add a new look to your images and some allow you to post-process your images.

As an iPhone user, my favorite photo and video apps are Manual, Action Movie, 8mm, FiLMiC Pro and Lapse It. A few of these are also available on Android, which has its own exclusive photo and video apps.

Are there photo and video apps you prefer? Feel free to email me with more suggestions!