SL Hunter Photography | Phonetography intro: No More Blurry Pictures (Pt2 of 7)

Phonetography intro: No More Blurry Pictures (Pt2 of 7)

February 01, 2016  •  1 Comment

Ever have that moment when you get the picture and you go to post it on social media and NOOOO! It's blurry/dark/grainy and otherwise NOT the adorableness or awesomeness that you were hoping to capture just moments earlier.  It's frustrating, but I have some good news! There are a few things (5 things specifically)  that you can do really quickly to make sure that the majority of your snaps end up well lit and tack sharp.

1)Clean your lens 
Don't worry, you don't need any fancy cleaners or equipment.  All you really need to do is grab a soft cloth, like your shirt, a stray sock, your 5 year old's (clean) underwear, or whatever's lying around, and give the lens on the back of your phone a quick wipe.  A little moisture from your breath will help too if the lens looks extra foggy.  Oil from your face and hands collects on the surface of the glass of the tiny lens, causing your pictures to look cloudy and smudgy.  You'll be amazed at how much this little step will improve your pictures!



1)Find the light
This, I can't emphasize enough, and if you don't do anything else, at least try to do this.  If you're outside, this is less of an issue of course, but try not to shoot into direct sunlight (unless you are going for some kind of effect) because the camera just can't handle that much light overwhelming it's sensor and the entire picture is going to be hazy.  A good rule of thumb would be to never capture the sun in the frame of the picture anytime after twilight or before dusk.  It also helps to shoot in what's  called 'open shade' basically, that's shade found in the shadow of a building, a tree, or even a person.  This is also why you'll find it easier to take sharp pictures with more even light and detail on overcast days.

If you happen to be indoors, your light-finding task gets a bit more challenging but the same rules still apply.  Try, if at all possible to take pictures in window light, and again, try not to get the window itself in the picture or your adorable spaghetti covered toddler will be a mere sillohette of  good intentions.  As a side note, it's worth saying that the window rule is a more flexible rule, as you may be able to create some interesting effects by breaking it! ). If window light's not an option, turn on as many lights as possible.  The darker it is in the room, the more difficult it becomes for your phone to capture movement, and the more steady you and your subject have to be to get a non-blurry picture, which clearly is an issue when photographing your munchkins, the human kind and the furry kind.

Note: don't use the flash. ever. Please. Don't EVER use the flash. It's not even a flash, it's a way to find the remote under the couch


1)Use your auto-focus
This is an easy one. You may or may not know this, but your camera has an autofocus button, and it's ridiculously easy to use.  All you have to do is touch the area of the screen where you want the main focus of the picture.  For example, if you are taking a picture of your delicious burger and fries from Five Guys, but you want to emphazie the fries, touch the fries on the screen, and not only will that be the sharpest area of focus, but you'll also tell your phonecam 'hey, this is what I'm taking a picture of, make this look good' and the camera will automatically adjust the distribution of light within your phone's sensor to make sure that that area of the screen is properly lit.  The same goes for that picture of your chubby 4 month old's toothless grin, just touch her nose on the screen and the camera will automatically focus in the right place and adjust the lighting so that her face isn't too dark or too light.

4)Take lots of pictures at a time
Hold down the button for a second or two instead of pushing it several times, it will take pictures in 'burst mode' at anywhere from 5-10 images per second, depending on your phone make and model. You're bound to catch something in there, and it will keep your hand from shaking as much if you're taking pictures inside with minimal lighting (remember we talked about how lower light means less movement is necessary for a sharp picture) or outside with a fast moving subject.

1)When all else fails, try black and white 
To be honest, you can do all of the above to a T, and you'll still end up with a picture that's too bright, or two dark or a tad bit grainy.  Don't call it a loss just yet! Instead, try using one of the black and white filters on the picture.  It won't necessarily fix it, but it will take away the color element and bring more focus to certain areas and less to others, depending on the filter that you choose.  At the most, It will look like you meant to take the picture that way to achieve an awesome black and white visual effect (wink wink) and at the very least, it may be just the thing to use as a last ditch effort to save a picture that didn't come out quite as great as you'd hoped

Whelp, that's all for this week, practice your lighting a little because next week we'll talk about creativity and angles.  Ever take a picture just to be disappointed that it's so underwhelmingly different than what you were trying to capture? Hopefully next week's blog will give you some tips on how to wow yourself with your unique and creative phonetography capture skills!

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Rich W(non-registered)
Excellent advice! You don't know how many times I've taken pictures in direct sunlight only to get shadows, wrinkles, and other non-flattering things in my pictures. Burst mode is really a great idea, especially if your taking pictures of two or more people since their expressions are always changing, and someone seems to always have their eyes shut.
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