Tag Archives: smartphone photography

7 Smartphone Photography Tips and Tricks

By Chantal Bechervaise

I remember growing up and using a 110 camera, and sometimes my parents would even let me use their 35mm camera. I think back to all those 110 film cartridges that were wasted;  I was lucky to get maybe one or two good pictures per cartridge, and quite a few 35mm rolls came back blank because they weren’t loaded properly.

The quality of the photos I took back in those days is nothing compared to the quality of the photos I take now – even with my smartphone or tablet. With every new smartphone and tablet that I try, I am amazed at the camera capabilities. My Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone and my Nexus 9 tablet can outperform my Canon DSLR that was purchased back in 2003.

Camera phones and tablets each have their own strengths and weaknesses but learning to focus on their strengths will help you to take better photos. Here are 7 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of them.

1.      Take Lots of Photos

Don’t be shy about taking a lot of photos. Smartphones and tablets generally have adequate storage or have an option to install and use a microSD card. Try taking pictures from different angles, experiment with different lighting and be creative. Take 10, 20 or even 30 shots and then go through and pick out your favorites. The others can be deleted if need be. Using a cloud storage service is great for uploading and saving lots of pictures. That way you don’t have to worry about saving them all on your phone, and you can access them from any computer.

2.      Ensure Adequate Lighting

When taking pictures indoors, try and stay close to natural light sources like windows and doors. Or move the subject outside. Photos of food and people (their expressions and faces) look better under natural lighting. Also, keep track of where the lighting is coming from. As in regular photography, taking photos of people that are backlit creates shadows and makes it hard to see their faces. This type of picture is great if you are only trying to capture silhouettes.

3.      Composition Matters

Everything from learning the Rule of Thirds to framing and taking photos of your subjects off center will help make your photos more interesting. Always check what is in the background too, as you may think you have a great shot until you realize that there was a truck blocking the scenic view behind your family and friends. I am often guilty of cutting off the tops of buildings.

4.      Use the Remote Shutter Feature

Instead of tapping the screen, which sometimes risks moving your phone or tablet from where it was originally focused, try using the remote shutter feature. On your iPhone or Android device try using the volume up button to snap your photo. You can even use a pair of connected headphones and use the inline volume control to snap pictures too.

Some Android devices, such as the LG G Flex, will let you snap a photo by simply saying the word ‘cheese.’

5.      Use Burst Mode for Fast Action Shots

Burst mode lets you capture those fast paced shots, such as children playing, pets running or sporting events.

iPhone: Tap and hold the shutter button for as long as you need. You will see the photo count indicator go up.  When you are done, let go of the shutter button and the images will be saved and shown as a thumbnail. You can then go through them and select the ones you want to keep.

Android: (Depending on the model of phone.) Tap the mode button and then select Burst from the options menu. Then hold down the snapshot button to take up to 20 shots in rapid succession.

6.      Lock Down the Focus and Exposure

If you tap on the screen when composing your shot, you will set the focus and exposure. But if your hands are not steady or the subject moves, then that setting may be lost. To force your phone to keep the focus and exposure, tap and hold down on the screen until the setting locks. Then even if you move or the subject moves, it will keep the same focus and exposure.

7.      Experiment with HDR Mode

This is a favorite setting of mine. I love taking landscape and scenic photos and the HDR mode helps to make them brighter and clearer. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and most new smartphones come with this option. HDR mode will take 3 photos with your camera at 3 different exposure levels (low, standard and high). It will then stack the 3 photos together to create one composite image that is much sharper.

HDR mode is great for taking pictures of landscapes. It will make the sky look more blue and will provide more details in trees and buildings. It is also great to use if the sun is right behind your subject.

Avoid HDR mode for action shots, as the image will come out blurry. Also avoid its use in portraits. It is great to enhance details on buildings and landscapes but you don’t really need to enhance wrinkles on a loved one’s face!

Have fun experimenting with your smartphone and tablet cameras. The more you practice, the better you will get.

Chantal is located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is passionate about everything related to the World of Work: Leadership, HR, Social Media and Technology. You can read more from Chantal at her TakeItPersonelly blog or follow her on Twitter @CBechervaise.

How to Organize Your Smartphone Photos

By Tracey Dowdy

If you never have trouble finding a “Throwback Thursday” photo on your smartphone, it may be time to consider switching some of those old photos to a photo-sharing and storage website.

There are several solid options available online, but before you choose you should consider these important factors:

  • Is it user friendly? Consider your comfort level with technology: Are you comfortable navigating the site and uploading photos? Are photos easily edited once they’re uploaded? Can you easily find your photos and search by date or file name? Are photos easily accessed and shared to social media?
  • Does it store photos in a high quality format? Facebook albums are a good example. Images stored on Facebook are compressed into much smaller sizes to save on bandwidth and storage – great for them, not so great for your photos. Storing in a high quality format ensures that whether you’re looking at an online album or photos you’ve printed, your photos are top quality.
  • Speaking of storage, how much do you need? Think long term, not immediate need. You want sufficient space to store all your photos at a reasonable price.
  • Privacy? Does the site control who can see your photos or are you in charge of your privacy option? What about licensing? Who has the right to your photos once they’re posted online?

Keeping these factors in mind, here are some of the best photo storage and sharing sites:


flickr-logo-200Flickr has been around for a while but recently underwent significant changes and is once again a great option for storing and sharing your photos with mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows phones.
User Friendly: Yes – photos can easily be auto-synced for uploading through the Flickr app, tagged and sorted into albums. You can search for photos by date, tag or keyword.
Quality: Flickr allows for full-size uploading and downloading of photos.
Storage/Cost:  Storage is one of Flickr’s best features – you get a full terabyte (2 million photos) for free with ads or you can pay $49.99 a year to get the site ad-free.
Privacy: You determine the audience: friends, family, public or only you. (When you add your contacts, you can set them as friends or family.)


photobucket-logo_200Another oldie but a goodie, Photobucket offers many of the same features as Flickr, along with the opportunity to buy merchandise created from your photos.
User Friendly: Yes – photos can be uploaded directly from your computer, Facebook or other websites. Photos are easily edited through Photobucket’s intuitive editing interface and once edited they can be sorted into albums or stories for a scrolling side show.
Quality: Photobucket allows for full-size uploads of your images.
Storage/Cost: 2GB free, with an additional 8GB with use of the Photobucket app. Prices range from 20GB for $2.99/month up to 500GB for $39.99/month.
Privacy: Albums are password protected.


500px_logo-200500px is aimed at more serious photographers. Images can be bought or sold as stock photos or wall art.
User Friendly: Upload photos from your computer, Dropbox, Facebook, or other social media and tag photos to make organizing and searching easier. Choose categories you’re interested in and 500px will intuitively match your interests with other users with similar interests. Users can comment on your photos and note which ones they like.
Quality: Outstanding, which is no surprise since the site is aimed at serious photographers.
Storage/Cost: Free for 20 uploads a week. Paid accounts allow unlimited uploads, the ability to sort photos into sets, and premium accounts come with a portfolio website.
Privacy: Public by default but you can restrict photos to private only.


thislife-logo-200ThisLife is a photo aggregator and is ideal for gathering all your photos into one collection. Photos can be imported from Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Picasa and SmugMug, as well as your computer. A Premium account supports video uploads as well.
User Friendly: Yes – photos are easily uploaded from your desktop or the Instagram app.
Quality: Full size uploads and downloads.
Storage/Cost: Up to 2,500 photos free; 25,000 photos for $59/year; 100,000 photos for $139/year.
Privacy: Only those with the link can access albums – accounts are not password protected.


Shutterfly-Logo-200Shutterfly is a great option for collating all your photos into one convenient location. Once photos have been uploaded, you can send friends a link to the gallery and they can add to the album or order prints for themselves. Albums can be collaborative, so you can share access to allow members to upload additional photos, share calendars, polls, or comment on images. Shuterfly also offers an extensive line of products for your photos from blankets to custom calendars.
User Friendly: Photos can’t be auto-synced to upload but are easily added from your computer, Facebook, Instagram, iPhoto, Google+ Photos and Adobe Photoshop, iPad, iPhone or Android apps.
Quality: Full size uploads and downloads.
Storage: Like Flickr, one of Shutterfly’s best features is storage. It’s free with unlimited storage and you get 50 free prints when you sign up.
Privacy: Albums are private by default and Share sites are limited to members only.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Dropbox, Google+, iCloud, even Facebook are options and each has its own strengths. Do your homework, consider your current needs and what you’ll need long term and you’ll have no trouble finding the right site for you.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.