Taking Better Smartphone Pics - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Taking Better Smartphone Pics

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We are all doing it these days, taking a lot of pictures with our smartphones.  We're not only enjoying them ourselves, we're putting them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  So how can you put your best "face" forward, so to speak?  How can you get the best pictures from your cell?  We spent some time with a professional photographer to find out.

Lisa Harwood calls herself a "huge photo fan," who tries to get professional pictures taken of her daughters Chloe and Jenna every 6 months.  Lisa's the first to admit, "I am 100 percent addicted to taking pictures on my phone!"  Taking them daily, Lisa says, "It's mostly, pick it up, zoom in if I need to, and click."  She, like most of us, wishes she was better and getting quality images.

Photographer, Donna Chapla, of Donna Chapla Photography, hears that all the time.  She says today's smartphones have just enough bells and whistles to take some great photos, but not so many that it's overwhelming. 

"I think probably the thing I see the most, that is a simple fix, is lighting," she says.  "If people would just take the time to really think about where they are shooting." 

Smartphones are particularly susceptible to bad lighting.  Chapla says stay out of direct sunlight and get into the shade.  She's also a big fan of turning off your camera phone's flash, which can create harsh shadows and be very unflattering. She says it's best to compose your picture in a place with some kind of natural lighting.

When it comes to the composition, unless you are shooting landscapes or have a special reason for wanting the background she says fill the frame with your subject.

When you are filling the frame, give a little thought to how you zoom in.  She says, "The best advice is actually to walk closer."  Because when you use a smartphone's digital zoom, you lose clarity.  Chapla says, "If you physically move yourself closer to your subject, you are going to fill the frame, you are going to have a crisper photo and you are going to be a lot happier with the results."

Technically speaking, Chapla says get to know your phone's camera.  Many phones offer white balance and ISO settings.  "Many now have scene changes that make the adjustments for you."  Chapla says the better you know your smart phone's camera, the happier you'll be with the pictures.

Try some different angles and some interesting framing.  Even moving a couple of inches each way after taking an initial picture, can help you find a better angle.  

I had to ask her about the all-important "selfie" Facebook profile pics?  She says that's NEVER a good idea.  It's not flattering.  Get someone to help you.

The more pictures you take, the better.  Smartphones are much better at taking quick bursts of photos, so take advantage and snap off about three shots at once.  You can easily delete the ones you don't like.

Chapla says parents get really worked up about getting the 'perfect' pictures and that's part of the problem.  If you are relaxed, your kids will be.  She says try to make them laugh and let them play between pictures.

Chapla, who is also a mom of two, has this parting advice:  "Life happens so quickly, and our kids grow up so quickly.  And I just...I don't ever want to focus so much on getting that perfect photo or gotta get the right camera to get the perfect [shot].  I just want to get the photo.  Don't worry about it being perfect.  Just get the photo."

Once you've tried out some of these techniques, share you're photos with us.  Post them on our Facebook page or email them to uscoop@fox28.com.  We'd love to see you masterpieces.

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