6 Tips to Help Take the Perfect Smartphone Selfie

selfie-guideSelfies have become the primary way that people share their experiences. Whether it’s a beautiful ocean background taken during a vacation or a delicious meal at a local restaurant, the story of our lives is now told through the selfie.

Given this fact we should aspire to take the best selfies possible. However, the process of taking a good selfie can be something of a mystery. That’s why we’ve collected these smart selfie tips.

#1. – Focus!

All too often people are in a hurry to get their shot. As a result, they rush the process and wind up with sub-par selfies. Taking the time to do it right can improve the focus. People frequently hold the phone up and take a shot while it is still focusing. This means the camera is still adjusting, so the picture you see when you decide to press the shutter button may not be the picture that you get.

Waiting for the image to stabilize ensures not only that you get the picture you expect, but also that the elements you want to showcase are the same that the camera is focused on.

#2. – Aim High

Taking a selfie can feel awkward sometimes when you are at a cramped angle. Giving in to that awkwardness causes bad selfies. Make sure you are holding the phone at a higher angle with your arm fully extended. Never aim low, as it creates double chins as well as lighting issues. By always holding the phone up and straight out you can eliminate these problems, and save tons of time editing later.

#3. – Be Shadey

The great outdoors is a common place to take a selfie. Whether to show off an awesome waterfall or an amazing landscape, outdoor shots are some of the best selfies around. Beware the sun, however. When shooting outside make sure you step into the shade in order to prevent odd shadows, as well as to keep yourself from squinting.

#4. – Timing is Key

Also relevant to outdoor shots is the time of day. If you are going to a destination with the specific purpose of taking a selfie try to arrive in the hours around sunrise and sunset. These points of the day are called the golden hours, as the angle of the sunlight gives it a soft quality that makes for great pictures.

#5. – Use Tools

While the shoulders up or the face are selfie classics, the full body selfie is a strongly underrated move. Use tools around you to prop up the phone and take the picture on the timer. Books, rocks, trees, bags; there are many options to keep your phone upright and pointed at you while taking a full body selfie.

Bonus tip: Do not cut out the ends of limbs in your picture. If you are showing an arm or leg you should show the hand or foot as well.

#6. – Be Unique

Selfies are taken to preserve memories of all the awesome things we’ve done in our lives. But they are also taken to show off! Don’t be afraid to try to make your selfie unique. Experiment with different angles. Try out the same picture at different times of the day if possible. Stand at a different place than someone might expect.

Most importantly, never stop trying! Making your selfie unique will earn you prestige with your friends and family and make sure the action on your Facebook and Instagram pages never slow down.

There are much more things to discuss when talking about selfies. Most of all of the standard guidelines for photography apply. Learning about these guidelines can help you make all of your pictures, not just your selfies, that much better. In the meantime try out these tips so you can look great in your next selfie!

Best Online Photography Courses – Learn How to Become a Photographer

online_photography_coursesIf you are looking for the best online photography course, take a look at our selection of Udemy video courses. These courses can be used to improve and fine-tune your photography skills, and are perfect for photographer of any skill level. Each of the courses is divided into a number of video lectures ranging from 1 to 10 minutes each. Some courses are quite brief, focused on one specific area of expertise, while others might offer up to 14 hours of instruction, so you can choose the perfect course for you.

These photography courses are self-paced so you can take your time learning and become familiar with the material, and of course practicing it for yourself.

We have reviewed several online photography courses and picked out some of the best for amateur photographers looking to improve.

#1 – Photography Masterclass: A Comprehensive Photography Guide


Offering a huge 255 lectures and 14 hours of instruction, this masterclass is aimed at beginners who have barely any previous experience and who are starting pretty much from scratch. This comprehensive guide to photography covers a wide range of topics, such as types of cameras, file types, composition, white balance, exposure, how to shoot in manual mode, and how to shoot in low light conditions.

#2 – Become a Better Photographer Part I


This course offers 55 lectures and is just over 5 hours long. It begins by reviewing beginner camera settings and then goes into advanced settings. This course also covers choosing the right shutter speed, sharp focus, working with natural light, and depth-of-field. Improving portraits, posing tips, repeating patterns and leading lines are also included in this course.

#3 – Photography: Manual Mode and Creating Stunning Photos


It is impossible to learn the true art of photography without mastering the manual mode and how to use these settings to get the very best form your camera. Both Canon and Nikon cameras are covered in this course, and at the end of it, you will feel confident using the manual mode to create really stunning photos.

#4 – The Art of Black and White Photography

The Art of Black and White Photography

Do you want to know how to take amazing black and white photographs? If so, this might be the course for you. You will learn advanced methods for converting color images into black and white. Using Photoshop’s Curve tool, masking, and enhancing contrast and tonal range are also included, as is the art of black and white portraiture.

#5 – Street Photography


Some of the most stunning photos are taken spur-of-the-moment on the street, but how do you approach someone to ask whether you can take their picture? Along with advice along those lines, this course covers camera settings and techniques, photo editing and also post-processing. There are a number of lectures including light and shadow lines, point of view, light and shadow, juxtaposition, and silhouettes.

#6 – Easy DSLR Digital Photography Course: Advanced


This easy-to-follow course takes you further than just basic digital photography. After an easy-to-understand introduction, the second chapter gets into creative techniques like which lens to select for portraits, fill flash, using reflectors and off camera flash. You will also learn about DSLR video and covered image editing.

The 6 Most Important Steps to Becoming a Better Photographer

most_important_steps_to_becoming_a_better_photographerI’ve always found the photography blogs amazing places to learn tricks to make myself a better photographer. Today’s post I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to help develop your basic photography skills.

Just remember – there’s no magic lantern for a good photo, even if there is software spruiking it. No one tip can make you a better photographer, only learning why these rules developed and then using them over and over until the technical parts of photography are just like second nature for you. I’ve always felt that once you learn the “rules” you’ll know better when to artistically break them.

Hope you enjoy!

#1. Lighting is more important than equipment.

Waseem over at Envira Gallery reminds us that knowing how to use your camera is not enough if you don’t understand the photography lighting tips. Light is the life of your portrait.

Everything You Need to Know About Photography Lighting

#2. The golden hours just before sunset and after sunrise are nature’s lighting studio.

The light is warmer, softer, and more dramatic. When traveling, schedule your day so you can spend these hours shooting.

Zorki Photo has a guest post from Film’s Not Dead recommending in summer that a good rule of thumb is to avoid that hard light around midday – if you’re determined to shoot between 11 am and 3 pm, do it in open shade rather than out in the full light.

Check out the post here:

52 Photo Tips #9: Use morning and evening light

#3. Get close to your subject. Then get closer. Don’t be afraid to fill the frame.

If the context is part of the story, great, but be careful it adds to the story and doesn’t distract. If it’s not part of the story, then get even closer. Don’t be shy or lazy with the zoom, get right in there with your eyeball. This is where a simple point and shoot or smartphone is actually better than a big fat DSLR.

Seqcatchments have a nice guide for up close nature photography.

#4. Be a photographer, not a gadget collector.

Shoot with what you have, even if that is just your smartphone. Don’t buy new equipment without a specific reason. If you don’t have a specific reason, then you don’t need it, so don’t buy it. That stuff will only clutter your bag and be a distraction. Use the money you save for a workshop or to travel to somewhere interesting.

Check out Peta Pixel’s post showing some easy ways to take better photo’s with any camera.

15 Easy Ways to Improve Your Photo Skills Without Buying New Gear

#5. Before buying new equipment, push yourself to find a creative solution to your problem. That’s where new ideas come from.

iPhone’s can take nice photos and video’s when set up properly. Check out these iPhone guides to get the best out of your smartphone.

The 20 Best iPhoneography Resources and Websites

Taking Long Exposures with an iPhone

#6. Regarding post-processing …

You don’t need Photoshop. There are a lot of great photo apps out there, (including Lightroom), but Photoshop isn’t one of them. If you think you need Photoshop, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. It’s a pixel editor, it should be called Pixelshop. What you want is a photo editor.

I’ve always struggled with post-processing black and white images. BW Vision’s guide helped me improve my B&W shots:

http://www.bwvision.com/black-white-photography-post-processing-techniques-digital-age/

Want to make eyes pop and sparkle in your shots? Photographers connection YouTube video has a few tricks to help set your shots apart from the competition.

Star Photography Tips to Make Your Shots Look the Same as Professionals

Many photographers have difficulty taking photos of the milky way. Over the years I’ve learned some simple tricks to capture great photos of the stars. This tutorial covers the basic star photography tips.

Star Photography Tips

Night Photography Tips: Camera Settings

Shutter speed – 30 seconds I find is the ‘sweet spot’ for capturing good quality night photos. A 30-second shutter speed with a professional tripod in order to keep the camera stable. I find that if you use a shutter speed that is too long, stars can tend to appear oblong due to the Earth’s rotation. Configuring the shutter speed at 30 seconds makes the stars look just the same as your view.

However, the only time that I adjust the shutter settings for night shots is when I take pictures of the stars that aren’t star trails. The longer the lens used, the shorter your shutter speed timing. If you shoot with a crop sensor camera using an 18mm lens, I’d recommend using a shutter speed greater than 15 or 20 seconds, as the stars will appear larger in the frame, so the streaking is more noticeable in your final shot.

Aperture – f/2.8: Usually you will need a high aperture for landscape photography to achieve maximum depth-of-field. Novice photographers tend to fool into using a very high aperture since the stars are far away, but remember that depth-of-field is how much of the picture is sharp, as opposed to where the sharpness appears.

Try using the lowest f-stop you have available on your lens. By focusing on the stars, you’re focused to the furthest point out the lens can focus, so you a low f-stop to capture the dim starlight. If you usually take your photography in the woods or open location with no objects in the foreground, then you could easily shoot at f/2.8.

Usually, photographers like to keep the ISO setting 3200 – as low as possible to prevent the photos from becoming grainy. Just remember many types of nighttime photography will require high ISO values. If you have a camera manufactured since 2011, it will probably allow selection of ISO as high as 3200 or even higher. Most of the DSLR models that we’ve reviewed are capable of shooting photos at ISO 6,400.

Shooting at ISO3200 will produce noise in the picture. This is unavoidable with current technology, but there are a few settings that you can configure to mitigate the noise in the photo caused by the high ISO and long shutter speed. My preferred method is long exposure noise reduction.

Long exposure noise reduction is available on top-rated DSLRs. If you are using a Nikon, look for “Long Exposure NR” in the shooting menu of the camera. Canon DSLR cameras, go to your menu, then go to custom functions, and browse through them until you find long exposure noise reduction. Each Canon model has a different custom function. This feature uses a technology called dark frame subtraction.

6 Video Shooting Tips for Capturing Night Scenery

carnival-at-night-time-videoVideo shooting at night has always been more of a challenge than shooting in broad daylight. Although DSLR cameras are designed to shoot still images better at nighttime, some videographers and video editors have a difficulty finding the right settings to achieve the best nighttime shots.

In this article post, we will teach you how to configure the right camera settings and video shooting techniques to get the best low-light and nighttime shot conditions.

#1. Add More Light Whenever Possible

This may seem counter-intuitive, but adding lights to your studio will dramatically ease your hurdle in shooting during nighttime and low light conditions.

We recommend you use lighting tools like Micro Pro LED from Litepanels to get the perfect lighting for your shots. If you don’t have access to these tools, you can use your lamps, overhead lights, reflector panel, or a piece of mirror.

Be resourceful whenever you can. But, of course, we still recommend you invest in purchasing a lighting kit for your video shooting projects.

#2. Adjust Your Aperture Settings

If you don’t know what aperture is, it is also known as an f-stop or iris. Most videographers used them interchangeably.

If your camera has an f-stop setting, you need to lower its number as much as you can. F-stop at 1.4 is the recommended one. The lower your f-stop is the bigger your aperture. More light will pass through, enabling you to capture a brighter image.

If your camera uses a zoom lens, keep it at a wide angle where your aperture can stay wide open. Don’t zoom in or zoom out frequently, as that will degrade the quality of the image you’re capturing. Instead, walk closer to the subject.

#3. Reduce Your Shutter Speed

Most DSLR and video cameras let you control your shutter speed. Reducing your shutter speed allows more light passing through your camera.

The recommended shutter speed is between 1/30th – 1/60th of a second. Since your shutter is open for a longer period of time, it doubles up the amount of light that passed through your camera, enabling you to capture brighter images.

#4. Reducing Your DSLR’s Frame Rate

High-quality DSLR and video cameras offer this feature, where you can manually set your frame rate up to 24 frames per second, instead of its standard configuration.

A simpler way of configuring this is by turning off your shutter. It will achieve the same result of capturing the frame for 1/24th a second.

#5. Increasing DSLR Camera Gain

It is also called “ISO” or “sensitivity”. You can adjust the sensitivity of your camera no higher than ISO 1600.

Important Note: Only apply this method only if you’ve tried ALL the tips given here. You need to be very careful with adjusting ISO as it does the most damage to your image.

#6. Reduce the Noise in Your Camera

One of the downsides of increasing your ISO is it adds more noise to your image. If this happens, you can buy a noise reduction plugin to reduce the noise. The good thing is, this feature is most common to be found in popular NLE software like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Da Vinci Resolve.

Shooting or Editing your Videos Professionally

Whether you’re a videographer or photographer, capturing and editing your videos in order to achieve the breathtaking sceneries you wanted can be a daunting process. But it’s not impossible to do that. You always have the option to hire the best video editors to capture and edit your videos professionally.

10 Awesome Blogs For Photography Tips in 2016

top 10 best photography blogs pickmycamera
Photography like any other art requires practice and learning to master. Thankfully, the Internet is full of amazing tips and techniques when it comes to improving the quality of the shots you take. From small tips to extended tutorial sections, all the information you need is right at your fingertips.

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to review 10 of the best photography blogs for awesome tips. These sites will be sure to help you improve, providing insight into special techniques that are hard to find out on your own or even consider in the first place. Let’s begin!

Roundup: Best Photography Blogs for Tips & Advice

1. Karl Taylor Photography Masterclass

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An amazing aspect of photography is the level of challenge. Sometimes taking a brilliant landscape is simple, while capturing the full cover of an everyday object throws us for a loop. The Karl Taylor Photography Masterclass blog takes note of this with articles on how to shoot objects correctly.

The ‘How To Shoot Red Wine’ is a great example of the tips you can learn.

Check out Karl’s blog

2. Digital Photography School

2---Digital-Photography-School

From working the scene, leading lines and patterns, and getting the right time of day to an examination of what other photographers do, the Digital School Photography Blog is a one-stop blog for helpful guides on how to shoot particular scenes.

Take a moment to review their article on how to get better landscape photography in order to understand the kind of skills the blog talks about.

http://digital-photography-school.com/10-tips-for-better-landscape-photography/

3. Jodie Brennan Photography

3---Simple-Portrait-Photography-Tips-compressor

Covering location shoots, family portraiture, inspiration, and more, Jodie Brennan Photography is a blog dedicated to making the best out of every shot. Along with setting up the shot, the blog covers through numerous articles things that should be avoided as well as included.

A great place to stop when looking for useful tips and Jodie Brennan Photography manages to cover a lot of content with every article.

http://www.jodiebrennan.co.uk/photography-tips-photographing-people/

4. Larissa Dening Photography

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Dedicating her time to shooting the best photographs possible, the Larissa Dening Photography blog is all about sharing what she has learned with anyone who will listen. This includes interesting articles on aspects of photography like shooting the perfect wave shot or capturing the Milky Way Galaxy with a standard camera.

Traveling the world, the Larissa Dening Photography Blog provides examples of shots from numerous places on a wide range of subjects.

The easy way to get awesome wave shots

5. Preset Pro

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Offering numerous tips and tricks, Preset Pro has a lot of extensively researched articles on various aspects of photography. As the article below is a great example, you can read about what to bring when doing photography on the go as well as various things you should consider along the way.

Incorporating a shop where you can purchase photography, Preset Pro both provides useful insight while offering a range of awesome shots for sale.

Preset Pro

6. Peggy Farren

Tying in experimentation with photographic skill, Peggy Farren manages to delight with unique and creative looks at traditional shots. In doing so, you can get a better sense of what image editing software, as well as photographic skill, can accomplish.

http://peggyfarren.blogs.naplesnews.com/2015/11/30/when-to-photograph-in-black-and-white/

7. Hawaii Magazine

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With articles on photography, Hawaii Magazine has useful information on various aspects of creating the perfect shot. In the article listed here on ‘How To Take The Perfect Underwater Photo,’ you can get a sense of the quality of advice offered throughout this blog.

http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/content/how-take-perfect-underwater-photo-according-master-hawaii-photographer

8. Waterdog Photography

8---Underwater-Photography-101

Want to know more about underwater photography? Well then, you’re in luck! Waterdog Photography is a blog dedicated to the art of taking amazing shots underwater and the skills you need to develop to get there. Along with useful tips are some truly amazing photos.

http://waterdogphotographyblog.com/2015/11/04/underwater-photography-101-the-beginning-beginner/

9. Holl And Lane

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Covering a range of subjects, Holl And Lane have numerous articles on camera functionality as well as general tips. Defining a lot of what goes into photography through example videos and photos, you can learn great techniques.

http://www.hollandlanemag.com/2015/11/24/photography-tips-camera-functionality/

10. Picture Correct

With detailed instructions on setting up shots, Picture Correct has a number of articles that break down how to take the perfect picture into easy to follow steps. Including instructions for all skill levels, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish when following these instructions.

http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/6-tips-every-newborn-photographer-should-know/

Photo credit: Connie Lemperle