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Jane Allen Offers Tips on Cell Phone Photography

Even for the photographers in the audience, Jane Allen offered many helpful tips on taking pictures with cell phones at the Anderson Artists Guild meeting on Sept. 10.

One of the simplest but most surprising was how to access the camera quickly by pressing the button to wake up the phone and then swiping from right to left.

Allen also suggested asking someone else to take your picture instead of taking a selfie and shooting at eye level instead of up at your face to get more flattering photos. She also said not to use the zoom function if you plan to print the picture since zooming reduces the number of pixels and thus the quality of the photo.

She then offered five suggestions for taking better pictures with a cell phone:

1. Compose the shot. The most artistic shots use the rule of thirds (placing part of the image on an imaginary tic tac toe grid), framing the shot (such as with trees on the sides), and using leading lines that lead the viewer toward the focal point (such as the markings on a butterfly). She also advised checking the background to avoid the appearance of things growing out of subjects’ heads (such as water from a fountain behind them).

2. Use selective focus. To focus on a part of the shot, touch and hold that spot on the camera.

3. Use the HDR (high dynamic range) function. Because a phone’s camera can see only a fraction of the gradations of color it is capturing, it’s useful to use the HDR function. This function actually takes three shots at different exposures (high, low, and normal) and combines them. On an iPhone, touch HDR at the top of the camera screen. On an Android, touch HDR on the screen or look under “Mode” in the camera settings. HDR is especially helpful for taking pictures of landscapes or when there are large variations in brightness.

4. Adjust the exposure. This is useful when the background is darker or lighter than the subject. On an iPhone, touch and hold the image so that a yellow sun pops up, then slide your finger up or down to adjust the exposure. On an Android, looking under settings and exposure.

5. Control the light. When shooting people, have them look toward a light source (not the sun) to capture light in their eyes. And sometimes a flash is needed, even outside.

In conclusion, she said, if there is no time for any of this, “just capture the moment.”

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