What I Learnt: 30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 30

Over the last 5 weeks I challenged myself to 30 Days of Smartphone Photography in and around Portland. Although I missed a few days due to travel commitments, I have made it to Day 30. IMG_2129

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I really do feel like photography every day and A Post A Day is normal now.

Although I still feel like I have a long way to go, practicing everyday really has made a huge difference in my confidence and understanding of photography.

Here's 5 things that I learned over the last 5 weeks about Smartphone PhotographyIMG_1758

1. Read instruction booklets first

In my excitement of receiving my new Photojojo lenses I skipped the instruction booklets for the Wide/Macro lens and consequently didn't realise that the lens comes in two parts. I was getting severely frustrated that I couldn't capture macro shots like the ones I'd seen captured by other people.

Eventually (2 weeks after getting the lenses) I decided I'd look online to try to find a better macro lens. In my search I discovered that the lens I already had unscrews into two parts!

No wonder it wasn't working!

So, now when I buy a new piece of equipment I check the instructions first.

2. Be prepared

This is still something I am getting used to. No matter where you are going be prepared. Your smartphone is usually close at hand, but remember to take your extra lens and a tripod (or use a stable surface) so you don't miss a great shot.

Using your tripod is especially important when you use Apps like ProHDR, which in order to get a great shot requires your camera to be completely still.

While I always have my smartphone and/or DSLR on me, I have missed opportunities for awesome photos because I left some of my equipment at home.20140709_171807

3. Photography requires patience

When I finally figured out that my Photojojo lens came in two parts and I realized I could get some cool macro shots I spent over two hours playing around with it before I got a clear shot of a fly on a strawberry leaf.

With the macro lens you have to be so close to your subject, and then the magnification causes any movement whatsoever to blur. It was hot out in the sun but I took photos of flowers and dog noses and grass and vegetables to get used to the lens.

You might get frustrated, but ultimately it's so satisfying when you get the shot just right.

The same goes for any form of photography.

Sitting and waiting for the right light at sunset.

Hoping for the right moment when the bird you are trying to capture lands exactly where you want it to.

Sitting uncomfortably hoping the flittery fly will stop on a strawberry leaf right in front of your camera.

I feel that I am getting to the point where I love this process. I don't mind waiting for the right moment because it makes it so much better when I capture the moment I have been waiting for.hdr_00109_0

4. Go back to the same places

Sometime I think I have captured the most amazing photo, and then I get home and open it up on my computer and it looks all wrong. I realise that I have cropped the image too much, or a different angle would have been much better.

Seeing a photo on your small smartphone screen looks very different to seeing it on your computer.

Apart from when you're only in a location for one day, there's no reason why you can't go back and shoot the same location again. Try it at a different time of day, or in different weather.

Shooting the same thing in different conditions has really helps me to understand what works best in different situations.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

The only way you are going to feel more confident in your skills as a photographer is by practicing.

Practice everyday, even if that means taking a walk to snap just one photo on your lunch break. You don't have to go to exotic locations to practice your skills.

Practice photographing the ordinary to find your own style and make it extraordinary.

 

I am in Oakland for the next two weeks, and yesterday discovered that there are Hummingbirds in the garden! Capturing one of these speedy birds is my challenge this week.

If you liked this post and would like to read more your can subscribe to my email or connect with me on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

Photo of The Day: Macro

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 29

While exploring the Oregon Zoo in Portland I took some extra time to practice my Photojojo Macro skills. 

20140713_185338

Besides the incredible animals, the Zoo also had beautiful flowers everywhere and here's the tiny petals  of one of them.This flower was about the size of a Australian 10 cent coin or US Quarter.

Remember with Macro shots that you need to hold your camera super still to avoid blurry photos. Because it's so magnified any amount of movement will show up.

Use both hands to hold your camera and practice slow steady breathing to help avoid sudden movements.

If you have one, it really helps if you use a tripod,  rest your elbows on a hard surface, or even just rest your phone camera on a surface as close as possible to the object you're trying to capture.

If you liked my photo of the day and would like to see more of them subscribe to my email or connect with me on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

 

The 5 Best Android Camera Apps

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 28

Most smartphone's have great inbuilt cameras, but if you want your photos to really stand out there are hundreds of apps which can help you capture and create beautiful images.

The problem is deciding on which ones to use. If you look up the best camera apps you will get pages and pages of recommendations.

Rather than listing out 50 apps which you could try, here's 5 apps which I actually use and like on my Android smartphone.

1. ProHDR Camera $1.99

While your in-built camera can capture great photos at one exposure level, ProHDR Camera combines 3 separate photos taken at different exposures to create beautiful vibrant images. This app is awesome for situations when either the background is too bright, or there is too much shadow in the foreground.

Use this app to capture the most amount of colour in your images and bring out detail in overly bright or shadowed areas.

20140624_205609

hdr_00053_0

hdr_00048_02. CameraZOOM FX $2.99 for Premium or Free Lite Version

CameraZOOM FX has all the features of your regular camera app with added bonuses to help make taking beautiful photos so much easier. With controls like touch to focus/shoot, white balance, timer and burst modes and nightshot mode, CameraZOOM gives you the extras you need for awesome shots.

Use this app in place of your built in camera for greater creative control. CameraZOOM-20140712164215043

3. Pixlr Express FREE

Pixlr Express gives you everything you need to quickly edit a photo to make it really stand out. You can make minor adjustments, or you can add filters, borders, text and stickers to create an image with a message.Screenshot_2014-07-12-14-41-46

Here's some of the awesome features of this app:

• Explore the tools: easily adjust the contrast and brightness of your image, or focus on one color with the color splash tool
• Easily crop, rotate and adjust images when saving and sharing. 
• Choose from four pre-defined dimensions (or input your own custom dimensions) for fast and flexible image resizing after editing. 
• Create and customize a photo collage by editing its layout, background, and spacing. 
• Share your photo directly with friends through Facebook or email, or just save it back to your photo library.
• ‘Auto Fix’ photos for a one-click fix to balance out colors, adjusting for poor lighting conditions.
• Explore the growing catalog of additional effects, overlays, and border packs.
• Look like a pro with cool photo effects such as focal blur, denoise, and more. 

Use this app for post editing to bring colour out or to completely change your image.20140709_195059

20140709_195059_20140712142248168

4. Dropbox Free

I have talked about Dropbox before hereDropbox is a free service for securely storing and sharing photo’s, videos and documents online. The Dropbox app means you can access the service on any device. I find Dropbox most useful when I want to quickly access photo’s from my phone (Android) on my iPad, or when I want to share photo’s and documents without having to email or use a USB.

Screenshot_2014-07-12-14-48-24

5. PhotoGrid Free

Make collages quickly and easily with this app to create interesting images which tell a story. If you like using Instagram, use Photogrid to make your photos stand out and capture the attention of your followers.

Screenshot_2014-07-12-14-44-13PhotoGrid_1405203724307[1] There you go! 5 Apps to help you capture and create beautiful eye capturing images.

While my phone camera is awesome as is, it often doesn't capture what my eyes see, so basically all my photos taken with my phone have some touch ups done before I share them.

If you liked this and found it helpful  you can subscribe to my email or keep connected with me on my Facebook pageInstagram and Twitter.

 

Photo of The Day: Smartphone Macro

30 Days Of Smartphone Photography Day 27

I can not even explain the amount of patience which was required for this shot! 

Flies are flittery, zipping, whizzing speedy little buggers and catching one while it's still is exceedingly difficult!

But I got him! It only took a few (many!) goes.

This is my photo of the day, taken with my Samsung Galaxy S II with my Photojojo Macro lens.

I am pretty impressed if I do say so myself!

Now you know what an American blowfly looks like. I did try to capture a wasp in action but it kinda got narky about (you need to be within an inch for macro shots) it so I left him alone.

Here's the obliging blowfly perched on a strawberry leaf. 20140709_171807

If you liked my photo of the day and would like to see more of them subscribe to my email or connect with me on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

Photojojo Camera Lens for Smartphones

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 26

Previously in my 30 day smartphone challenge I showed you my Photojojo wide/macro camera phone lens.IMG_1725

Today I have a quick how to and overview of all three lenses. Photojojo has all sorts of cool bits and pieces and I got this 3 pack of lenses (Fisheye, Polarizer and Wide/Macro) for $49.00. Photojojo claims these lenses will fit on any phone model, but be warned some phone covers won't work with these lenses and the magnetic ring. IMG_1741

Each lens comes with these little magnetic rings which you attach to your camera around the lens. You get a few extras too so no worries if it falls off (this hasn't happened to me and I have had the same ring on for a month now).IMG_1733Clean your lens and the area around it, then after removing the backing paper attach the sticky ring carefully to your camera. Make sure its lined up because they are kinda hard to move once stuck. You can remove the ring when you want to get it off, but it does leave some sticky residue.

Press the ring firmly onto your phone lens, then leave it to stick for at least half an hour before you try attaching a lens.

The lens simply magnetically attaches to the ring. IMG_1745

Easy! You're good to go. IMG_1743

Here's what each lens does

Fisheye

The Fisheye lens is a very wide angled lens which gives a hemispherical looking photograph as shown below. The first photo is from my phone camera as is at the same distance as the second photo with the Fisheye lens. The Fisheye lens takes in a 180 degree view and distorts everything so it appears like a bubble (or fishbowl).

This lens is really cool if you want to take photo's of scenes too wide for your regular camera, or if you just want to add a touch of wackiness.

20140708_160123

20140708_160116Polarizer

A polarizing lens is designed to block light at certain angles, produce more saturated colors and help to block reflected light from windows or water.  The lens helps to create a vibrant image so you don't have to do as much (or any) post processing. The first shot is my camera as is, and the second is with the polarizer attached.

The green of the trees definitely looks greener and the caravan in the left corner is much less blown out, but the sky is basically the same.

Use this lens on bright sunny days or if there is a lot of reflective light to capture beautiful vibrant images.

20140708_170045

20140708_170038

Wide/Macro

The wide/macro lens lets you take extra wide angle shots or super close ups.  The lens comes in two parts and you simply unscrew the wide angle top off the macro lens to use the macro function. Both together make the wide angle lens.IMG_1759

IMG_1758The first two photos below are as close as I could get to the lenses without my phone camera losing focus. The third image was taken with the macro attached and you can see how much closer I was able to get. There is much more detail and you get a nice blurred effect in the parts of the photo which are out of focus. You need to get very close with the macro lens to get a focused shot (between 10-20mm).

20140708_160254

20140708_160254

20140709_154144

The wide angle (shown in the second photo below) creates quite a lot of distortion, especially in the corners. You can crop your image to get rid of the dark corners though. This lens is similar to the Fisheye, just less intense.

Use this lens for wide landscapes.

20140708_160356

20140708_160349

Having a few extra lenses for your phone camera makes taking photos much more fun. I really like the wide/angle macro for getting close up detail.

If you're getting bored with your phone camera, there's nothing better than getting yourself re-inspired with a new lens.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful you can keep updated with more practical tips by subscribing to my email or connecting with me on Facebook.

 

5 Motivation Tips for Photographers

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 25

Sometimes I have zero motivation to get out of the house and take photos. It's too hot. It's too rainy. The light isn't right. I don't want to get up that early!

20140702_210821Whatever the reason, my motivation to get out an take photographs comes and goes.

Sometimes I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing and I get so caught up hours can pass without me realizing!

Sometimes I look at my photographs, let little frustrations get the better of me and feel like I should stop even trying.

And then, also, sometimes I prefer to just enjoy a moment and not let my camera take over.

Whatever your reason for lacking motivation to get out and practice your skills, today I have 5 simple tips to re-inspire you

1. Experiment. Photograph the mundane. Snap something you wouldn't usually bother photographing and find beauty in expected places. Have a look around your house or in your backyard and think of capturing textures, colours and unnoticed objects. The best thing about photography is the unlimited number of methods/skills/techniques to experiment with. You won't know if you like a particular technique until you try it.

2. Go for a walk or ride your bike to an unfamiliar location. Sometimes the simple act of discovering a new location, object or scene is all you need to get going again. Take a walk around your neighbourhood, ride a different way to work, venture out at different times of the day to see how the light changes a scene. Since I have been travelling, one of the things I have enjoyed the most is simply leaving the house and seeing where the day takes me. I stop and photograph whatever captures my attention.

3. Be inspired by others. When I am lacking motivation I find one of the best ways to get re-inspired is to see what other photographers are doing. Flickr is great for this since you can explore by particular topics, camera type (including smartphone) and you can also see what settings the photographer uses. Flickr is also really useful for seeing how other photographers have captured a particular location. If it's a popular location there will usually be quite a few photos and it will help give you an idea of how you would like to set up when you are there. You might be surprised to see a familiar location captured in a way that makes it seem entirely different to how you know it.

4. Participate in a short course or join a community. Last year I did a one day landscape photography course and was kind of blown away at how much I learned in one day! It really is incredible how much you can learn from a passionate professional. If you don't want to take a course you can join a community to share your photographs and get feedback. By simply talking about photography you gain new understanding.

5. Take your camera with you wherever you go. I have managed to get this habit to stick finally. No matter what I am doing or where I am going I take my camera, smartphone and any extra lenses which fit in my small camera bag. Even if I I only end up taking one photo, that's still better than leaving my gear at home. I used to feel self conscious about taking photos while I was out with other people and would try to rush to get a photo and move on. Now I stop and take my time. If I really can't stay for long, when I can I will go back to the same location to get more shots.

Of course there's many other things you can do to get re-inspired but there's just a few from me.

While my motivation comes and goes, my interest in learning about photography only grows stronger each time I learn something new, get a new piece of equipment or capture an awesome shot.

I hope this post has helped to inspire you to get out and continue learning too!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful you can keep updated with more practical tips by subscribing to my email or connecting with me on Facebook.