Introduction: Amazing Smartphone Pictures

About: 1/3 Kansas farm girl, 1/3 computer geek, 1/3 nobody knows yet:)

It's happened to all of us.  There is an amazing sunset, beautiful waterfall, or just plain cool photo opportunity, but your super-awesome-also-cooks-dinner 3 zillion megapixel DSLR is nowhere to be found.  Or, maybe you don't have a DSLR, but you just HAVE to get a snap of that adorable kitty, or you want to enter a photo contest.  Well, never fear, I will show you how to take great pictures with your phone!

Step 1: What You Need

First off, I admit, I live out in the country surrounded by beautiful scenery and lots of opportunity for great pictures, which is just a tiny bit unfair;)

You will need:
  • a phone, iPod, or other low quality digital photo-taking device (mine has a whopping 3 megapixels and isn't even technically a smartphone;)
  • a magnifying glass
  • photo editing software (taken care of in step 4)
  • something awesome to take pictures of
  • a computer
  • a little creativity (not pictured as mine was taking the photo)
Well, if I didn't scare you off with the last requirement, let's get started:)

Step 2: Composition

Since phone cameras don't take very good quality pictures, it's super-duper important to take creative pictures no one else would think of.  The pictures in this step are un-edited, in other words, they look exactly how they did when I took them. No cropping, brightening, etc.  The only thing that I did to them was rotate them all 90 degrees to the left, as my phone has an annoying habit of taking all the pictures sideways;)

Rule of Thirds
When you are composing a shot, try to set it up so that the main subject of the shot is about 1/3 left or right, like the tree is in the first picture, instead of smack dab in the middle.  It makes the shot more interesting

Interesting Angle
Try to take pictures from cool angles, such as maybe eye-level with an animal, picture 2, or another creative angle, picture 3.

Another way to make a shot more interesting is to "frame" a subject, like in picture 4.

Also, instead of using the digital zoom on your phone, just get closer to the subject.  You can always crop the photo after you take it.  Instead of applying a color effect to the photo when you take it on your phone, black and white, sepia, negative, etc., take it in full color, because you can always add the effect later, but you can't make it full color later if you take it in black and white.  Lots of light also helps the pictures come out better=)

Step 3: Macro Lenses

For up-close pictures, nothing beats a macro lens.  This an amazing D.I.Y lens that I really want to make, but haven't gotten around to yet.  I just used a magnifying glass. I included some up-close pictures I took for inspiration.  (or, if you don't like them, an example of what not to do;)

Step 4: Post-Processing

For post-processing, there are tons of options.  From $700 Photoshop, to online editors, to the free GIMP.  My favorite for touching up and embellishing photos is BeFunky.  It is a website, as well as a Chrome App.  It is simple, free, easy-to-use and has tons of effects.  I used a picture of my house for this example.  The first picture shows it after using BeFunky, and the second picture shows it before.

First, go to the BeFunky website, or get the Chrome app if you use Google Chrome.  Click 'Upload' then select the picture you want to edit, picture 3.  First, I straightened my picture, picture 4, then adjusted the brightness and contrast, picture 5.  I then used the vibrance tool to make the colors really pop, picture 6.  After that, I used the Blur Filter in paint mode, which made the whole picture a little blurry, then used the paint brush to make the green door sharp so that it really stood out, picture 7.  Last, click Save&Share to download your photo, picture 8.  

Along with downloading it, you can upload it to BeFunky's gallery, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr, picture 9.  The last pictures are some I took and then edited with BeFunky.

Step 5: Thebebebebebebe That's All Folks!

That's it! Now you can take great pictures without an expensive DSLR (although if you do have one, these tips work great for it too:)
Thanks for reading and if you take any great shots I'd love to see them so feel free to post them in the comments:)  Just be creative and take pictures no one else would think of:)