Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Oh no, I don't have my camera...but I do have my cell phone!"

It's not every day you get to see a royal palace in the U.S.   --I'olani Palace, Honolulu

There are many moments that won't wait for you to go find your camera.  There are others where the weather is simply no good for fancy electronics.  Sometimes, you just can't fit a camera in with your daily luggage.  Other times, you just can't be bothered.  But if you're like me, the Kodak moments keep on coming, whether you have your camera or not.  These are the times when I'm glad I have my cell phone.  

I took this photo head on, but I think it works because of the receding lines the palace and the palm trees make.

The palace

The Hawaii State Seal

I just have a first generation MyTouch Android smart phone, but it has a camera!  It's got a few megapixels and came with a cheesy plastic protector for the lens.  When we realized the protector was blurring the photos, we took it off, and voila, clearer photos!  I love the moments I can capture with the cell phone, and I know you do to.  I don't have any of the fancy new apps to enhance my cell phone photos, but I can import them to IPhoto on my mac and do a little tweaking.  Just for fun, I went back to my first cell phone photos from 2 years ago, and edited them a little.  It's great what you can do!  

Here are some tips to get better photos with your cell phone.  Scroll to the end of this list to see examples of 

1.  Hold still.  These guys are kind of slow, especially if you have an older phone or your kids downloaded too many apps.  If you can rest your phone on a solid surface of some sort while taking the photo, even better.  Sometimes, however, you can make some amazing effects by purposely moving the phone while shooting.

2.  Find good lighting.  I realize not every situation is conducive to this, but it really helps with the clarity of your shots.  If you're in a darker room, try to get closer to a light source.  You could even get a flashlight and do some side lighting for an interesting effect.  You can get some great silhouettes if you allow the light source to be behind your subject.  If you're outdoors at high noon, try to find a place in the shade to prevent highlights from being blown out.  Cloudy but bright mornings are amazing light for getting clear, non glaring shots.  

3. Try different angles.  The advantage of your cell phone is that it's small!  Try shooting from below above, or behind your subject.  You might get some really interesting backlighting or distortion in this way.  

4. Use the Rule of Thirds  For some reason, the human eye is more aesthetically drawn to an image if the eye is led to move around it.  When you use the Rule of Thirds,  a common art rule, you imagine your screen to be divided by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines into 9 squares.  If the main subject of your photo lies near these lines, or where they intersect, the photo tends to be more pleasing.  There are times where it is just more fun to do a shot face on, but many times, the rule of thirds will greatly improve a shot.  Try to shoot one using the rule of thirds, then one head on.  See what you like best. 

5.  Fill the Frame  As with any photo, it is always best to fill your frame with your subject.  Cell phones can do some really fun landscapes, but they also do great close ups if you get really close in.  Because they sometimes act like a wide angle lens, you will need to go in closer to a subject than you are used to with your regular camera.  This will eliminate distracting background items, such as grandpa picking his nose, or sister giving the bunny ears.  

6.   Notice what is behind and around your subject.   If the scene surrounding your subject is very busy, the autofocus may not focus directly on your subject.  Sometimes, if the light is very bright the glare from surrounding busy scenes will make autofocus more difficult.  Try to find something plainly colored, such as a piece of plastic or paper to act as a backdrop, and suddenly, your subject is there and in wonderful focus. 

This is what happens when your background is too bright and too busy.  Your cell can't focus!

Stick your hand behind it, and it's a little clearer.  

I put a chicken feed scoop behind it, and there's my dragon fly!  

The original color of the chicken scoop photos.

I tried a white bucket, but the curve allowed too much shadowing, though it was interesting.

Biking with the cousins in the trailer.  You can't get moments like this back.

Out on Jetty Island in Everett.  In August.  Our summers are getting wetter and wetter.

The post Jetty Island tiredness.

That morning hair won't wait.

Remember when your dog was little enough to do things like this?  

Or the time you couldn't find him, and he was under the chest?

Or when he fell asleep in the grass with his master?

Or when he was all sacked out in his crate?

When your preschooler poses in the perfect frame.

When she makes sand angels...

When the sun sets in that perfect way

When you want to show off your awesome celery in the garden

Or when a dandelion looks too pretty to be a weed

When your daughter looks like an angel

and your princess is holding a buttercup

When you see the prettiest dandelion

Or the hopscotch game looks like a cross

When the grass first goes to seed

and the clouds roll in

When you're just out for a walk

or the neighbor sets out his crazy penguin

when the sparkle of that diamond makes you remember why you married him  12 years ago
when you see the potential of each seed
when you just wanna run

and your daughter does too
when the cutest moment happens
or something is arranged oh-so-prettily.  

These are the things you want to remember.  And you can!

Now go out there and live your life, but don't forget to document it with your cell phone camera!  


  1. I am wondering why the dragonfly stayed there for 2 pictures, while you were holding something behind him???

  2. I actually took about 15 pics. i was surprised he stayed


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