Smartphone Photography 101: Making the most of your megapixels

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Remember the days when cameras weighed more than a small child and were similar in size to a suitcase? Well, to be honest, neither do I. But, believe it or not, there was a day when capturing a moment in time was not as easy as reaching into your pocket and pulling out your smartphone. Gone are the days of waiting for a roll of film to be developed hoping that the pictures would turn out—with proper lighting and no blinks.

Recent years have seen advancements in mobile photographic technology that would render Polaroid-era me amazed and bewildered. So, you didn’t get the right angle? The photo came out blurry? Snap another picture. In fact, take about 20 more. Your only limit is the capacity of your device and deleting unwanted images is as simple as a few taps and swipes across your screen.

The explosion of Instagram and other image sharing applications has allowed the world to be seen through millions of different perspectives. Countless related apps supplement the photographic experience through image editing and manipulation and all it takes is a bit of practice using the following tips to hone your photography skills and produce top-quality captures.

Be Creative with Angles.

I learned long ago that one of the easiest ways to take a boring picture is to snap the photo at eye level. Take advantage of the opportunity to capture life in a way that isn’t often seen. Our smartphones are small enough that we can maneuver them into tight spaces, hold them close to the ground, or raise them above our heads to capture an angle that is difficult to otherwise experience.

Lighting Is The Key.

Good photography is built upon the foundation of lighting. So much so, that there’s even a name for the time of day when lighting is best for picture taking: the Golden Hour. This time period is shortly after sunrise and slightly before sunset, when the light is soft and illuminates your subject with highlights and shadows from unique angles. On the other hand, midday photography produces harsh lighting and sometimes washed out subjects. Get creative with the sun!


Use The Rule of Thirds.

Composition is another key component to good photography. The goal here is to avoid placing the most interesting part of a picture—often a person—directly in the middle of the frame. Instead, imagine that your picture is divided into three vertical sections and three horizontal sections. Placing your focal point at any intersection of these imaginary lines is an easy, natural way to catch the eye of your viewer.

Use Apps To Edit Your Photos.

I’ve spent a fair share of time testing image-editing apps in an attempt to find ones that do exactly what I need. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that there’s really only three other apps besides Instagram that I need to edit my photos: Instant Blend (free), Over ($1.99) and Afterlight ($0.99). The issue I have with Instagram’s latest update is that, despite the new option to adjust the opacity of the filters being applied to images, you are limited to using only one filter instead of being able to combine filters together. This problem is solved with Afterlight, which comes packed with beautiful pre-made filters (which can be layered on top of one another) and even allows you to adjust the hue of your highlights, mid-tones and shadows. This app is essential. If your creative juices are flowing and you want to experiment with blending multiple photos together, Instant Blend is great for composing double exposures. And finally, maybe you have the perfect quote to accompany your photo. Over is the app for you. I’m very picky about fonts, but Over hits the nail on the head and is the most well-put-together typography app I’ve ever seen.

I leave you with one final suggestion: start living life by viewing the world as a photographer. Look for new ways to look at simple things. Change your perspective. And in the wise words of an unknown author: “When life gets blurry, adjust your focus.”

Another thing to remember is to always keep your equipment well protected! For great overall protection, be sure to check out the OtterBox Defender Series.

About the author

Chase Baker

Chase Baker

Born and raised on a farm and ranch in Eastern Colorado, I enjoy the peacefulness and simplicity that comes with living in the country. I've spent the past five years attending Colorado State University where I received a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a master's degree in Public Communication & Technology. My career goal is to become a Creative Director where I can utilize my passion for design, photography, and writing, but in my downtime, I love a good reality tv show or the game of basketball.

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