A camera is a mechanical eye that captures light. Because every camera is slightly different and every phone uses a different camera app, you’ll need to consult your camera manual for specific instructions on how to operate your camera. That said, here are a few tips to help you feel more comfortable using your camera.
Set to your camera to take the highest resolution of photos possible. Nothing says amateur like low quality pictures with lots of noise.
A dirty lens can ruin an entire photo shoot. Particularly with phone cameras, the oils on your fingers can smudge the lens and blur all your pictures. Check the lens before you start snapping. When cleaning a camera lens, follow the manual instructions for cleaning.
Pay attention to your camera orientation. By holding your camera or phone vertically (tall and skinny), the photos will be taken vertically. By holding it horizontally (short and fat), the photos will be taken horizontally—a bit of a no-brainer but important. As a general rule take horizontal photos. Turn your phone on its side! Horizontal photos work better for website layout, they allow the subject to breathe and can also be used for social media. Vertical photos are ok for Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest, but generally don't work as well for websites.
If a photo is blurry but you've cleaned the lens, you probably didn’t focus. When using a phone, on the screen tap the part of the image that you would like to focus on. If you’re using a camera, press the capture button partially down, wait a moment, and then push down completely.
If photos are still coming out blurry, unsteady hands are usually the culprit. Try a more solid stance by resting your elbows against your body, or by crouching and resting your elbows on your knees. You can also prop the camera against something solid, or use a tripod (they do make these for cell phones as well).
Use HDR if Needed
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This feature can be used for scenes that have really bright spots (windows or light fixtures) and really dark spots (in corners and under furniture). By using HDR, the camera takes the bright and dark points into account and averages them. This can create detailed images that look more vibrant, that really "pop." If your camera has this feature, experiment with it. Capture the same image with and without HDR and keep the better image.
Careful with HDR when:
- There is movement in your picture (blowing vegetation)
- Vivid colors are being photographed (they sometimes become more drab)
Sometimes a photo comes out tinted blue or yellow. This means that your source of light (the sun, a light bulb, etc.) has a certain temperature of color that is tinting your image. Usually digital cameras will auto adjust, but if you’re having issues with certain hues invading your photos, experiment with different settings of white balance. Most digital cameras have presets like “Cloudy” or “Incandescent” that state what sources of light they can compensate for.