No SLR? No problem. How to Take Plywerk-Worthy Shots With Your Smartphone Camera

One great thing about working at Plywerk is seeing all the phenomenal photos our customers take. We’ve got panel and finish options from our teeny-tiny 2.5” square ornament, all the way up to 30” by 45” with exhibition-worthy, archival quality finish.

Our range of options makes Plywerk ideal for professional photographers and casual snapshot-takers alike. For those of you whose smartphone doubles as your primary camera, fear not: you can still take photos that will look great hanging on your wall.

Here are a few pointers we hope will help you make the most out of your iPhone or Android photography:

1) Download some apps.

Most phones limit the settings you can tweak on your own, but there’s software for just about every after effect you can think of.  Camera+ and Camera Awesome give you more control over focus and exposure, help you with photo composure, and provide Instagram-like filters, for those who don’t want to spend a whole lot of time editing.

If you want to make a cool sign, meme, or just add some nice text, try Over. It has a ton of great fonts, and the results look really clean. And for those who are crazy for collages, Pic Stitch helps you arrange several shots into a lovely display of that memorable occasion.

Go to your phone’s app store and download the free versions of whatever suits your tastes and ability levels, and take them for a test drive. You can always download the premium versions later if you decide you’re liking what they do.

2) Turn off the flash and find a good light source.

Built-in flashes on the vast majority of phones are lousy, and they’re not in the optimal location to properly light photos. Their LED bulbs cast into a role that they’re less than ideal for. That’s why you get those bleached out shots, especially in low light.

A better option is to turn off the flash, find the best natural or indoor lighting source, and turn on your phone’s High Dynamic Range mode. Back in the day, using the HDR setting meant your phone would combine multiple photos taken at different exposures. Nowadays, most phones use a single shot and let their software alter the dynamic range, which means you don’t have to hold still for long periods of time. (Ten seconds can feel like an eternity when you’re trying to keep a phone steady). Speaking of which…

3) Keep that phone steady!

You’re still going to need a moment where you’re not shaking or fumbling to snap a good shot. Many apps have stabilizer modes which help, but you’re best off either bracing yourself—elbows in close at your sides, deep, slow breaths, weight over both feet—or bracing your phone against a flat immovable object.

If you’re traveling, or need to take some good snapshots for an event or work function, consider a tabletop tripod. It’ll help you hide the fact that you had one-too-many coffees, and your photos will turn out sharper and more consistent.

4) Ditch the zoom and crop after the fact.

Because you’re dealing with a smaller image sensor and a digital as opposed to optical zoom, you’re much better off getting as close to the subject you’re trying to photograph, rather than zooming in on it.

Instead, take the best photo you can, even if you capture more in the frame than you want to end up with. Then use your apps or desktop computer’s photo finishing software to get the shot you want. It’s always better to have too much photo to work with, rather than finding out after the fact that your super tall friend Phil’s head out of the frame.

5) Take tons of photos.

Just like pro photographers, you’ll find the best shot when you have several to choose from, and the quality of your photography will improve with practice.

When you’ve got the luxury of a stationary subject, a steady light source, or ample time, mix things up. Shoot the subject from different angles, play with your exposures and focal points, and see what…develops.

For those in-the-moment situations, try burst mode, which takes several shots rapidly, or just click that button as many times as you can. (Don’t be the person who makes everybody hold their pose until their smiles turn creepy).

Now get out there and take some photos!

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