Tips on mobile photography: hands-free phototaking

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately, particularly for the shop and this blog. Most of the time now, I take photos with my phone because it’s just convenient to reach for, and easy to transfer photos to my computer wirelessly (a feature that my trusty camera unfortunately lacks). Sometimes I’ll use my iPad too, when my phone battery is low or when I can’t get the image to focus, but the idea is that using mobile devices is convenient for me.

I’ve encountered a problem when taking photos though. I don’t have steady hands, so I need both hands to steady my phone or iPad when taking photos, which means that I don’t have the extra finger to poke the screen of my device when I am ready to take the photo. That resulted in multiple attempts at shots, as images tend to get blurry the moment my hand leave the side or stretch to touch the capture button.

A while back, I discovered a solution to my problem while fiddling with the settings of the camera app on my phone – I can use voice control to command my phone to take photos, without having to sacrifice one hand I use for steadying! That has saved me lots of time and effort in taking photos, and eliminated a lot of the frustration.

Here’s a quick guide on how to activate voice control on your phone:

  1. Head to settings on your phone’s camera app.
  2. Make sure that your voice control is turned on. (Photos can be clicked on if you want to enlarge.)

    You might also need to head to the settings of your phone to activate the voice control function.
  3. To use voice command when you are taking a photo, just give the command that is indicated on your phone settings. Mine says either “capture”, “shoot”, “smile” or “cheese”. I like to say “shoot”, because it’s just one syllable, and my phone detects it quite well, so try different command to find one that works best for you and your phone.

As a reference, I’m using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which is an Android phone. From what I can gather from the web, all Android phones have the voice command function in-built for the camera. Unfortunately, if you are an iPhone or iPad user, there is no such in-built function available. There are however, apps you can download from the app store that would provide the same function. I’m not particularly impressed with the apps I’ve found though, so I won’t be mentioning any. But you can search the web using search terms like “voice command iPhone camera” and a few apps will pop up that you can try out. I think it’s a shame that Apple devices are lacking this function, which would have been great, because admittedly, I find Apple cameras to be better.

I hope this tip/tutorial has been helpful. If you have any additional suggestions, or know of a good app for Apple devices, do share with us in the comments below (:

More digital art

When I iPad Air 2 a year ago, I had two main goals in mind. First, was to use it to help me with school work, and the second, was to create digital art with my new tool. I’ve made tremendous progress on the first front, but I’m ashamed to admit that there is zero to no progress on the second. To be fair though, I did download some apps and played a little with them over the course of the year, but there was really not much progress, as I never moved into the comfortable stage of creating digital art on my iPad.

But! Today is the day this all changed! 🙂 Well, at least I’m hoping that it’s a sign of positive change and to making more digital art. I’ve got inspired by Amy’s latest blog post and her linked Instagram post, and since I’ve got some time today, decided to try and do something on my iPad as well. Amy uses a paid app, but the apps I’ve used can all be downloaded for free, with paid add-ons if you want to expand the function of the app. I’ve yet to buy any of these add-ons (since I’m poor) but you can still create some cool looking stuff with just the free version. Here’s a look at what I’ve created:

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These two are created using the SketchBook app for iPad. It’s the first drawing app that I downloaded because I am used to this app. If you have seen my previous posts on digital art, you know that most of them were done on the SketchBook app for my Galaxy Note device. It was a little hard to get used to, because I’m essentially using the downgraded version on my iPad but oh wells, it works. I tried to the fun colourful background that Amy did, and ended up with a bokeh like background. What I really liked about the app is that you could do layers, so I could change the background colour at will. The app also save the layered file so you can always go back to edit it, which is a function that wasn’t available on the Note device.

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This one is created on an app called Tayasui Sketches, which is available on Android and Apple devices. Comparing this with the SketchBook app, I would say that this app is more dedicated towards painting, and feels more artsy to me, as the tools available features texture like crayon and paintbrush. The free version doesn’t allow addition of layers though, which is a shame but I still like it because it offers something different from the the SketchBook app. The in-app upgrades for the app looks great, and I’m tempted to purchase them sometime in the future, but we’ll see how it goes.

These are basically the apps that I have on my iPad that I use for creating digital art. It’s all still in infancy stage but at least I’m having fun. That’s what creating art should be all about, no? 😉

The last app I want to share with you is an adult colouring app called Pigment, which you can download for free. What I like about the app is that it has many different pages for you to colour, and also allow you to colour in texture like colour pencils or air brush, in addition to the bucket fill. The app also saves all complete and incomplete work you have done, so you can always come back to it at a later time. There is premium access which grants some cool textured brushes like oil, glitter and wood, which are honestly quite gorgeous, plus access to all available colouring books and pages. Unfortunately, premium access works on a subscription basis, rather than a one-off payment, so it’s not something that I would look into buying. The free version works pretty well if you just like to enjoy colouring and would like to de-stress. Here’s one I coloured in just now just to try out the app. I didn’t spend too long thinking of the colours because they have preset colour palettes for you as well. Isn’t that nice?

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I did use a stylus for all my drawing and colouring, which is the Adonit Jot Pro. It’s a pretty good stylus, good for highlight notes on pdfs and broad usage like colouring and painting in. I find it to be a little lacking in detail work though, but it could just be me not being used to the precision disc tip. Handwriting function also works horribly on the Adobe Reader app, which I believe is an app problem rather than the stylus problem. One thing to note is that this stylus doesn’t have palm rejection, which can be a little hard to get in details in drawing as you can’t rest your palm on the screen.

Hope you enjoy this little look at the apps I used on my iPad to create digital art. It’s not something I would turn to all the time, but still an option on the days I would like to do something a little different. Plus, I can do it on the go where I might not have my physical art supplies with me.

Sorry that it took me a while to get posting again. The last two months have been pretty hectic as I was out of town for extended periods of time, and also falling sick once or twice. I have a few posts that I want to get posting so hopefully they can come in when November rolls around. Until next time!

Ponderings: Having multiple outlets of creativity

After an unintended 2 months long hiatus, I finally feel the drive to be back. There’s not much to say about the hiatus, except that I haven’t done a lot of art during this time, and I hardly wrote anything as well.

Which brings me to the topic at hand: of having multiple outlets of creativity. As you might (or might not) know, I engage in several creative activities: art, writing, music. A friend asked me about the progress in my writing the other day, and I had to embarrassingly admit that I had not made any progress since the last time he read them. It ended up with me lamenting about how I have no idea why I can’t find the energy and drive to write when everything is already vaguely in my head. But then he made an acute observation and link that I never realised: the reason that I didn’t have the creative energy to write is because I’ve been spending all my creative energy for the past 2 months on music.

And he’s quite right. I spent a lot of time thinking about music, on the bus, on the train, walking to the bus stop, any time that I don’t have to focus particularly on anything. It’s like I have this finite creative budget and I spent it all on music, leaving nothing for art or writing. Now that I am aware of my creative budget, I start to consciously spend more time thinking about art and writing, and actively trying to use up a fair portion of that budget. And it’s working, because I have since churned out more writing (if you would include this blog post as well), and I have been catching up on my backlog of YouTube subscriptions.

I still won’t say that I’m back in the full swing of “things”, whatever that might mean. I use to write and do art every single week, but that was during the period when I had little to no focus on music. Right now, I have music practices every week (though that will stop soon when concert is over next Saturday), while I write and art sparingly. I have yet to find a balance on all three of them at the moment, but I think I’m making some headway.

Is spending all my creative budget on one outlet of creativity a bad thing? I would think no. Even though I couldn’t produce anything substantial for my art and writing, I didn’t feel the sense of frustration that comes with a dry spell. It was merely a “I don’t really feel like doing this today even though I know I haven’t done it for a well.. Oh well I’m ok with not doing anything until the next time I feel like doing something.” In fact, it felt great to be buzzing with all these different outlets of creativity, because they somehow feed each other without you having to do anything. I’ll take this anytime over a creativity dry spell.

One interesting thing I noticed about my art is that most of them are done for art sake, rather then for something deeper on an emotional level. Journaling is always an important part of my art journals and scrapbooking, but it’s something I have not really done for these past 2 months. Going directly into art is something I have not experienced in a long time, so I’m embracing it as it comes, and just really enjoy the process of playing around without any specific aim or endpoint in mind.

Here’s two recent art that I did:

One was a painting I did following a step by step guide which I got for free during my last Spotlight shopping trip. I couldn’t follow it completely because I don’t have the brands/colours they suggested, but I tried to mix the colours as best as I could. Another lesson in colour mixing! It’s not a good quality photo because I didn’t have intentions to share it online then so I just haphazardly snapped it and sent it over What’sApp to a friend.

Watercolours on watercolour paper

Second is an unpolished quick sketch I did on my phone yesterday, just because I felt like it. Took me about 15 minutes to do it, barely any time taken out of my day but it turned out great anyway (at least to me). Haven done any digital sketching for a while and I was very pleased that I even did something at all.

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I hope you enjoyed this little update and chat on creativity budget. Now that I learnt something about my creative process, it becomes easier to work with it rather than work against it. In case you are wondering, I’m going to post my monthly Instagram updates pretty soon, though as I’ve said, there wasn’t much arty stuff going around these past few months.

More Mobile Art

Scrolling through my phone gallery and found more mobile art that I drew/doodled in the past couple of months. Just like the last ones I posted, these were drawn on my mobile phone using the Sketchbook app and I feel like I ought to have a new section just on mobile art (seriously considering)! Most of them I did while I was bored or really restless so there isn’t any theme here except that I was trying to go for a background pattern kind of look.

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I didn’t mark the photos with “My Craft Diary”, though lately I have been rather forgetful at doing that. A lot of people do mark their photos with their name or logo or something, but I do wonder if there is really a need to do so. Hmm. Anyway, these are unmarked because I’m allowing them to be used freely! So you can save them and do something with them, but be sure to let me know what you did with them in the comments below!! I have the tendency to use my mobile drawings as my Whatsapp background picture but of course there are other uses for them I imagine. And another hint: rotate the image! I tried rotating earlier and they just look so different that way.

Lastly, a quote I wrote out as well, attempting rainbow colour shifting digitally. This was first seen (and inspired by) Motivational Monday from Amy Tangerine. Not a fantastic attempt, but it’s kind of cool. I think.

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Quote is by Paulo Coelho.

Tips on mobile photography: exposure

On a roll with blog posting these couple of days. Attributing this to having lots of test and assignments due in school, as my brain shy away from thinking about all these stuff. Anyway, this post came about from the last post I did on pens review, as I was trying to take a good photo.

This is the first photo I took on my phone at normal settings (you can enlarge by clicking on it):

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Exposure: 0

It turned out darker than I like, considering that I was photographing in a brightly lit room. I tried to edit the photo’s brightness on my phone but didn’t quite like how it turned out. Plus, the editing isn’t very user friendly. So I took another photo and played with the exposure:

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Exposure: +2

I was a lot happier with how the photo turned out at exposure +2. The photo became much brighter, without any loss of actual colour or quality. After this, I thought I try it out at yet another exposure level:

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Exposure: +1

This is somewhere between the previous two photos, which turns out to be the actual photo I used for my previous post in the end. It wasn’t obvious to me when I looked at the photos through my phone, but once I transferred the photos to my computer and enlarge them, I could tell that at exposure +2 it was a little over-exposed, and reduced the contrast between the words and the white paper.

You can easily change the exposure on your phone camera by clicking on settings. Just remember that positive exposure makes your photo brighter and negative exposure makes your photos darker. I could adjust my exposure between -2 and +2 in increments of 0.5. Each camera phone might have different settings,  so play around with your phone settings and see for yourself which exposure level is the most appropriate.

I’m no expert at photography, so I experiment around with settings and see what work best for me. I use a Samsung phone (Note 3) which doesn’t have the best mobile camera around, so I just need to work with what I have. If you use an iPhone thought, Wilna Furstenberg just recently upload a video on how she uses iPhone to take good quality photos so you might want to head over and take a look. Her take is to edit the photos using the iPhone settings which I found it doesn’t help too much for my mobile photos, though that could most likely be because of a different phone. Admittedly, one thing I like about the iPhone is the great mobile camera.

Hope you like this quick tip on adjusting exposure with your mobile camera!

Ponderings: Blog update!

I’m excited to reveal updates to the blog! Inspired by how some craft bloggers use their own images in their blog design, I have decided to include my own artwork into my blog design too! I have been thinking about this for quite a while but hadn’t had time to do this. And then one fine day as I just sat down at my craft table wondering what to do the designs popped into my head!

The first would of course be the change in the blog logo! It looks a lot bigger than I expected haha. But I think i’ll leave it at that because it’s going to take me a long while to redraw the image, scan it in and colour it again (read: proscratination). The second is of course the “ponderings” title! Since ponderings are a large part of this blog and a permanent feature, I decided to have a title for it! Makes me happy just to look at the logos and the bright colours.

In case you are wondering how I did this, the process is rather simple. Much simpler than I had imagined before I’ve actually done it. First I sketched out my design on a piece of paper, before outlining the final design I want in black marker. Next I scanned it in and edited and coloured the scanned picture in GIMP. GIMP is a programme similar to Photoshop, but it’s a freeware. It is a limited in what it can do compared to Photoshop, but it works fine for my purposes: cropping, stitching photos together, text insertion, digital colouring. I was rather surprised that the digital colouring went on so smoothly, because the programme registered my drawn lines pretty well. I was also able to remove any background colour with a click to make it completely white, since scanning in white paper often result in some tinge of gray.

Now that the process is so clear to me know, I envision myself doing more of this in the future. Perhaps not in the near future, but still, some time in the future.

Mobile art

I have recently gotten more into mobile art. I own a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which comes with a stylus so it’s almost the same as using pen on paper. Much better than the stylus that comes with my Dell laptop, which wouldn’t even allow me to draw a straight line or write anything remotely like my handwriting. There is good control of the Samsung stylus and the stroke are precise, an advantage I got to experience when I started playing Draw Something HAHA.

My phone comes with the Sketchbook app so all of my drawings are done on that app. It took a long while for me to get the hang of utilising the various tools offered in the app and I didn’t feel comfortable with it until quite recently. Which says a lot because the first time I ever used Sketchbook was like 3 years ago or something. Let’s just say I’m the kind of girl that gets confused without instructions but cannot really stand help pages (instruction manuals are another thing altogether, and so is desperate searching help pages).

Here are a couple of the drawings I made, and I might make more when I think of something to draw.

tree shadows against the colourful sky
This painting was inspired by a recent Amy Tangerine video. I attempted to paint this because it looked so easy in the video and I was glad to find out that it really wasn’t that difficult, though the tree shadows didn’t turn out as nice as how I would like them to be.
black cloud blob against sunset colours
This was a completely random drawing I made. I just picked a colour and then blend in more colours along the colour wheel, somehow ending up with sunset colours. I initially intended to do a sheep shadow but realised that I don’t actually know how to draw that so I settled for a cloud like shape shadow instead.