It’s a treat for myself too, because I’m very interested in spicing up my smartphone photography, and often I find that there is still so much for me to learn about photography. It’s dizzying, but it’s inspiring. It’s overwhelming but it’s exciting.
This was iPhone for me, but I was lucky to have creative enough subjects to not worry beyond pressing the shutter button.
Now I’m going to let my guest poster, Lindsey Leigh Graham, take it away about spicing up your smartphone photography. I found her post to be very educational for me, and I’m always looking for ways to make my iPhone photography better!
Looking for a way to up your smartphone photography game? It’s always frustrating when you know there’s a photo opportunity about to happen but you don’t have your “good” camera with you? Perhaps you don’t even own a “good camera” but are looking for interesting alternatives to the standard point and click method for snapping pics.
If so, check out these tricks for expanding the capability of your smartphone camera and achieve effects that would otherwise require expensive add-ons. These quick and easy DIY ideas will explore the use of everyday items as tools for creatively enhancing photos.
1. DIY Tripod and Shutter Release
There comes a time in every selfie taker’s life when a tripod becomes a necessity. You’ve exhausted the one arm pose and become frustrated with your phone’s inability to stand itself upright, endlessly looking for the perfect combination of books and balled up clothing to keep the camera pointing in the right direction for capturing your best side. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the tricky balancing act we have all fumbled through.
Crafting the perfect topple-free selfie is as easy as finding some large binder clips—the larger the better. Attach one on the bottom of the phone for a vertical photo, or two on one side for a horizontal landscape shot. In addition, try using the volume control button on the headphones as the shutter release for a hands-free, shake-free photo!
2. Filter Alternative
Filters can add an interesting pop of color and can correct for over-exposed or dreary photos. Any Instagram whizz will surely have made use of all of the in-app choices. Instead of exhausting these pre-made filters, create your own and snap a one-of-a-kind keeper.
Sunglasses with colored lenses are the perfect tool for adding a unique hue. Yellow and pink lenses are widely available at most convenience stores—you might even have a pair of your own Blue Blockers to add to the mix. Dark sunglasses simulate ND filters and can be helpful for darkening a bright image, or one taken into the sun. Pop the lenses out and stack them for an interesting effect.
3. Bokeh Effect
Add some flair to your photos with the visual appeal of bokeh. This popular effect is common when using a conventional DSLR, and can be recreated using your smartphone.
Find a clear glass big enough to fit your particular brand of smartphone, roll the outside edge of the glass in sand or sandy dirt, and place your phone inside the glass. Face the sun, and shoot through the dirty glass, the highlights from the sand will create a bokeh effect. The result will vary depending on the size and shape of the glass, and the size and shape of the sand or dirt grains. Be sure to use the headphone shutter release for an effortless capture. As you can see, the bokeh effect in the photo on the right adds interesting textural appeal to the blue sky.
4. Macro Lens
Create your own macro lens without the need for an expensive add-on lens clip. Fashion a pint size version out of a mini magnifying glass or laser pointer lens.
Check out the starfish below: the additional magnification really lets you get in close! Laser pointers contain a tiny lens that also makes for a great magnifier. However, once the lens is removed you’re not going to be able to put it back together, so be sure it’s not something you’re going to miss.
5. Zoom Lens
As we all know, the zoom function on most smartphones significantly degrades the quality of any image, so finding ways to get closer to your subject without using this function is optimal. Lining up a pair of binoculars with a smartphone camera lens definitely takes some practice, but the winning combination of steady hand and intense patience ultimately allowed me to capture a unique close up of a surfboard captured off a local fishing pier.
Get creative and start looking for your own versions of these tricks! Think about how you can use clear plastic binder dividers, textured glassware, or even 3D lenses. Once you get the ideas flowing you’ll surely find endless opportunities to expand your tool kit!
Lindsey Leigh Graham is a beach-loving photographer based in coastal South Carolina. Her favorite subjects are the wildlife and landscapes of the Lowcountry, and she creates decorative and functional pieces of wall art to display her photos. Lindsey frequently contributes to the blog at Treat.com.
Tamara back. Thanks so much, Lindsey! I honestly didn’t know any of those tricks. I think it’s really fun and important to me to take my best photo with my iPhone, should that be the only camera on me. I love how easy these items are to find.