Tips for Outdoor Smartphone Photography by Ren Bostelaar

There’s a powerful camera hiding inside your phone! Camera phones have replaced traditional cameras for millions of people, and it’s easy to understand why: they’re small, they’re always with you, and they let you instantly share your photos and video with your friends and followers. However, some people will tell you that all of that convenience comes at a price: they’ll say that phones just don’t measure up to traditional cameras for features and picture quality. The Henry’s Learning Lab disagrees. In the right hands, phones are capable of capturing stunning images that easily stack up against what you can get from a bigger, bulkier camera. Keep these simple tips in mind and your phone photos will look their absolute best.

1. Hold Steady

When light levels drop, it takes longer for your phone’s lens and sensor to capture enough light to create the image. Reduce camera shake by using a two-handed grip to hold your phone like a camera, and pull your elbows in close to your body. You can also use a flat surface like a table to keep your phone still, or better yet use a small folding tripod to keep your phone still when it counts.

2. Light It Up

You’re probably using your flash at the wrong time. In dark situations, your flash will overexpose the foreground and cause ugly shadows and reflections where you don’t want them. When it’s dark, you should actually turn the flash off and follow our first tip to let ambient light in. However, there is a time when you should be using your flash: when it’s very bright. That might seem counter-intuitive, but on bright, sunny days your phone’s flash will do a good job of filling in shadows and balancing the scene. It sounds crazy, but it works!

3. Change your Perspective

Get out of the habit of shooting from your chest level, and start shooting from above or below your subject. From these new angles you can do a better job of eliminating distracting backgrounds, and the fresh perspective will help your images stand out from everything else on your Instagram feed. Next time you feel like photographing your dinner, do it from directly above the table and notice how the patterns and textures suddenly take centre stage. If you’re shooting kids or pets, get down to their level and shoot the world from their perspective and you’ll be amazed at how much more interesting your photos become.


4. Zoom with Your Feet

Ditch the digital zoom, it will degrade your image quality and turn your pictures into a pixelated mess. Instead, try to get physically closer to your subjects. Your pictures will be a lot clearer and sharper because of it.

5. Upgrade Your Camera App

Your phone came with a camera app that gets the job done, but there are dozens of alternatives that can add loads of new features. One of our favourites is Camera Awesome (iOS and Android), which lets you separate the focus and exposure controls into two separate targets. This neat trick makes it easy to overcome most lighting and focus problems quickly and easily, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

6.  Go for the Glow

Photography is all about capturing beautiful light, and most experienced photographers have learned that the best light happens around sunset and sunrise. Set your alarm early or plan your day to allow you some free time after dinner and you’ll be amazed at how much better your images may be. Early morning or late evening light tends to be warmer (more golden) and it will strike your subjects from a more flattering angle (from the side instead of from high above), and you won’t have to deal with as many harsh shadows as you would if you were shooting in the afternoon. Position the sun behind you and snap away!


7. Don’t Be Afraid of Bad Weather

You can also create incredible images in bad weather. Don’t put your camera away on a wet day; instead, look for puddles that allow you to capture interesting reflections, or grab an umbrella and shoot your friends and family smiling in the rain. There are plenty of great cases and covers that are designed to keep your equipment safe and dry, so grab your raincoat and have some fun!


8. Don’t Forget to Print the Pictures!

Printing is so important.  Turning your favourite memories into real print is the final step to success. The Kodak Moments app allows you to preselect and sort your best images before you get to the shop, making it easier than ever to produce beautiful, long-lasting prints. When you are in the store, Kodak’s Picture Kiosks also allow you to wirelessly connect to the web and import your favourite images from Facebook, Flickr or a number of other online services so you never have to worry about putting your shots on a thumb drive or burning them to a disc.  In minutes, you can print your best photos and have them bound into a book.


Like this one that Nathalie made of her recent trip to Egypt.  In less than fifteen minutes, she had a hardbound book to last for years, and all of the photos were taken on her phone and printed from her phone.



Ren is Bostelaar is the Manager at Henry’s Learning Lab.

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