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 (:

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Starting anew in 2017: finding momentum

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve updated and I finally got the energy and drive to update today. So massive massive update ahead, but also lots of photos to feast on.

My current status is that I’m officially unemployed for the past 3 months (wow how time flies). I should saw that I’ve been busy looking for a job, but that’s a lie because the time just consists of a lot of waiting. What this means for my art and creativity though is that my life currently consists of no structure, like I’m bobbing along in the great big sea. Since starting blogging, I found that my most productive creative days happen when I’m busy with other tasks, so I am now consciously aware that having momentum allows me to flourish best. Spending 3 months without any sense of structure and time though… not a good environment to be doing art.

Perhaps it’s the idea of a new year, or perhaps it represents the start of a new life as I leave my undergraduate life behind, this year, I’m finding it easier to start something new (fingers crossed I don’t jinx it). Not just something new, but starting anew, as I try for a past me that have disappeared into the wind in the past few years.

I’m taking up planning again, like those student handbooks that you are forced to buy when you are in school. I have to confess that I used to love them though, and each year my handbook get filled up with reminders and homework and crossing outs. It’s nothing fancy of course, but it didn’t matter because it’s functional. I’ve tried to use planners again during my university days, spending the time and effort to search for planners that would suit my needs AND look pretty. It’s not that much of a lost cause, but often times I find myself not using them, and when I try to pick them up again, I found that I actually didn’t like to use them. This time though, I’m heavily inspired by videos of bullet journals I seen (particularly this and this) so I decided to go simple. I had a B5 binder notebook that I used for German note taking so I decided to use that. And with some new inserts, my planner is thus born. What I loved about this (and probably why it worked so well for me), is that I can just throw papers away if I did something wrong or if I didn’t like it, which frees me from a lot of the stress and pressure I put on myself.

There are tabs that came with the notebook that I used to keep section separate, but the main tab that consist of everything to do with planning is a mishmash of things that goes by chronological order (of when I started the page, not so much what’s on it). I found that it doesn’t bother me so much, and it’s actually kind of nice to be flipping the pages back and forth, rather than just staying on one spread for the week and never needing to move away. It’s adds to the illusion of doing something too, because most days I don’t need to spend too much time writing in the planner. A few photos of how my journal looks:

These quotes used to hang on my wall, but I’ve stopped paying attention to them and one could only feature one at a time so I stuck them into my planner instead
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Daily log page where I write down the things I need to do/plans for the day. I don’t use it as often as I should, but when I do it works fabulously to keep me on my (self-designated) tasks
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This gratitude page started out from a monthly challenge prompt and I’ve kept it to see where it would take me. I’m reading a book called “The Happiness Project” which mentioned that gratitude can make one feel happier
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My Habit Tracker page, which is the page I used the most often and turn to the most

I’ve also started a page on tracking my habits and I’m enjoying it so far. I have unfortunately gained (more than) a few bad habits and lost a few good ones, so I’m trying to get back on track by making them visible, and having a chart to mark off each day allows me to track my progress, and reminds me each day of what I have to do the next day/week/month/whatever. Some habits are easier to get back into than others though, like remembering to put apply face cream in the mornings and nights, and others doesn’t seem to get done at all (the habit that read “Post on My Craft Diary once a week” has been there since January). Yet others seem to have mixed success that I can’t seem to achieve consistently, like sleeping early or bathing early. Nonetheless, keeping track of my habits works for me so it’s something I’m sticking with.

A lot of my drive in picking up new habits come from the first piece of artwork I did this year. It’s a reflective piece, in which I think about the things I want to achieve in my life, and the things I want to keep out. It’s almost like my resolutions for the year? Though I’m not sure if it can really be considered resolutions because they are just big and broad aims I have while I’ve distilled them into workable actions that are manifested in my habit tracker. The piece if now hanging on my wall though, and it makes me happy to just look at the piece on the wall, if only because of the colour. Here’s how the piece looks on the wall:

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And here’s how it looks at the background stage plus some details on the layers. As usual, you can click to view an enlarged image.

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collage, paint and drawings

paint, stenciling, drawing, paint splatters

collage, paint, stencilling with gold paint

I may not be doing a lot of art, but it has not been completely bare these past few months. I did go on a few shopping sprees, so I have quite a few additions to my supplies. They’re mostly utilitarian though (like 3 different type of glues or blade refills), though there are some new yummy supplies that I’ve bought to keep that creative spark (mostly the inexpensive stuff like new pens or ink colours). I finally finally bought the set of paper bead roller that I’ve been eyeing ever since this video came out and it makes paper bead making so much easier. I promptly broke in the new tool by making beads out of scrap pieces of paper that has been lying around for years – that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone 😉 Here’s a look at the bead making process:

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Drying the beads after glazing

I’m also trying to reacquaint myself with the Jennibellie’s Journal Workshop community, and have been chatting with the creative peeps there occasionally. I may be very much out of it but it nice to have a place where I can just drop by, some place familiar where I feel comfortable, and Journal Workshop is just the place for those moments. I participated in the last art swap too, and I think it’s been almost two years since I last did an art swap. We made some paper flowers for the swap and I really liked how these turned out, with the embellishments and all. Hopefully my swap partner would like them!

My main project now is my Japan travel journal, which I started in December and then stopped because I got busy during the holidays (Christmas & Chinese New Year). I started picking it up again a couple of days back, and then somehow fiddled with a camera and video setup. In a stroke of brilliance, I found a set up that works, and doesn’t take too much time to set up, though the setup is rather amusing.

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I use a short table as a temporary work for this project, because I bring out a lot of materials that wouldn’t fit on my usual workspace. You can’t see in this photo, but surrounding this table is an arc of supplies and things I would need for the travel journal, with just an empty space in the middle where I can sit down. Because my craft room is also my bedroom, I used my bed to help in the camera setup, and added cardboard boxes and even my pillow to prop up the selfie stick to a appropriate height. Nothing fancy, so hopefully this means that I might take more videos in the future! I also posted a video of a short flipthrough of the parts I worked on these few days on my instagram which you can view below:

A post shared by Wenyi (@nocloudypooh) on

As you can see, I usually go off on a tangent while I do things, even when I have definite plans. But it’s not a bad thing, because it usually end up being productive, like a new burst of energy to do things. While editing this post, the tangent brought me to create a stamp with the My Craft Diary logo, and it’s pretty easy to add to the images, so that’s a success. *Does happy dance* Have been wanting to do this for a while, but I was finding it a drag to learn how to do it. I did it on Photoshop before, but gimp is a little different and I’m not particularly familiar with the programme, so Google was the best way to go. I think that’s all the updates I have for this post, and hopefully, this marks the start of the habit to post on the blog once a week. Thanks for stopping by.

Ponderings: On taking photos

It’s been a while since I posted. Mostly it’s a combination of not having anything to post/not feeling inclined to post either because they aren’t that nice to be posted, or they are too personal to be posted. Still trying to work my way around the personal part, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s post will be on my thoughts on taking photos. This came about mostly because I just returned from a holiday to Japan a few weeks ago, and made me realise certain things about me taking photos. But first of all, a quasi-quote that I stumbled upon yesterday. Well maybe not yesterday, but I wrote it down in my book-of-things-I-read/heard-that-needs-to-be-written-down, and I came across it again yesterday:

“Take photos of what you love, and you’ll love the photos of what you take”

There were two ways in which this quote struck me.

Of course there is the literal meaning of the quote – that you will love the photos you take, if they are photos of things you love. In a rare moment of non-procrastination, I got started on my travel journal one week after I came back from Japan, which meant that I had to sort through my photos and look for the ones that I want to add to my travel journal. For the first time in a very long time, I could barely find any photos to include in my journal. Which is a shock, because I am usually indecisive in choosing photos, because I like so many of them (yet can’t include them all at the same time), rather than the opposite. It’s not that I didn’t like Japan, but during my travels, I was finding it difficult to really enjoy it and often I had to force myself to enjoy the things around me, rather than letting my heart wander to other places I rather be.

As I look at my photos, it occurred to me that this translated to the photos I’ve taken. I was taking photos to remember the places I’ve been to for mere documenting, not so much because I had strong emotions to the places I’ve been. It came through in the slipshod-ness in which the photos were taken too – photos taken in a rush, just snap and go, rather than focusing on getting the right composition, or checking the photos afterwards to see that you actually got a good shot. Of course it would be a exaggeration to say that I hated the all the photos I’ve taken (though there were some that came pretty darn close, made worse by the photo quality). It was just that I felt more of “oh let’s take a picture of this place just to remind myself I’ve been here” rather than “wow this place is so wonderful I have to take a picture to preserve the memory”. It was really a lesson learnt, on taking the right photos, on spending time, and to immerse in the surroundings. (Though I have to say I’m only 2 days into my travel journal, and perhaps the remaining 7 days or so might prove to be different. I hope.)

The second thing this struck has to do with my daily photo taking habits. I might have mentioned in an earlier post before (I can’t remember), but I struggle with taking daily photos. I like the idea of Project Life, the whole documenting everyday moments, but I find it hard to justify whipping out the camera daily for that purpose. In a way I find it sad that I don’t find my life interesting to be taking photos like that, compared to the people I follow who always have something to document every week, be it just a good meal or a gathering with friends. Sometimes, I even find it hard to find something to scrapbook about, because most memorable moments aren’t crystallised in photos. It’s been an ongoing problem for me so far, when I get the urges to create, but have no idea or nothing to create. Uhm what’s my point in bringing this up? I don’t think there’s a point actually, just that I wanted to bring up what I felt with regards to this. Sigh.

I’m still as passive as ever, and output is pretty much slow or non-existent. Haven’t been absorbing much too, if my backlog of YouTube videos is anything to go by. Have been doing random stuff lately too, and the photo above is just one of them, slapped together within 5 minutes or so before I need to leave for my dental appointment. Despite the short amount of time put into it, I really liked how it turned out though, likely because I really identify with the subject matter. Maybe I’ll talk more about it in a future post. I’m not sure. But it feels good to have the keyboard under my hands and hearing the clacking of keys as I type away.

Until next time.

Ponderings: Staying “on task”

(Warning: long post ahead)

I was sorting out my photos recently, in an attempt to keep my photos in order and clear my backlog of photos. I have left most of my photos unsorted since last year when I went on exchange, and what was on my computer was just folders and folders of photos as I continually import them from my camera, but did nothing more than that. I have also been neglecting photo printings for years; since 2012 to be exact so that’s a really long time.

There’s a lot of reason why I haven been “on task” with my photos: a mental block that it takes a lot of effort to settle them all, even more effort require to pick out photos and send them for printing, taking too much photos, not being able to find a good photo printer service, not having a system that works the way I want it to. Right now though, I know that some of these are false, or that the problem has been solved. Or sometimes, all it needs is a sudden motivation that brings you to settle them all. In my case, it was a really good deal for photo printing during this holiday season, hence I wanted to get it over and done with while saving money in the process.

Here’s what I’ve learnt these past few years from my photos problem:  Continue reading Ponderings: Staying “on task”

Ponderings: In love with astrophotography

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My amateur astrophotography of the night sky in month of April at the equator. Photo is edited to maximise contrast. You might need to click to see more details and increase screen brightness a little :p

So I really really really couldn’t restrain myself. You know those moment which makes you want to squeal and jump and exclaim and in awe all at the same time? That’s what astrophotography does to me sometimes, especially when the colours call out to me like a piece of art.

Astronomony Photo of the Day has been my homepage for quite some time now, though I don’t always have the time to look at the photo and captions in detail when I open my internet browser. I also have the habit of not closing my browser, but just letting my computer go to sleep, so there are days where I miss APOD completely. But this APOD is so amazing I really wanted to share it! (Click the link, I swear you will not regret it!!)

It’s been a long time since I have carefully looked at the sky. We have been having haze here for more than a month, and it has been hazy every night, blocking out the dim light of the stars. It’s just such a waste and pity because Saturn is in the sky at night, but it’s hard to spot it in the haze. Looking at the photos make me miss stargazing. I’m just an amateur stargazer or astronomer if you would, and I don’t own any telescopes. I am lucky however, that my school organises mass stargazing sessions with telescopes so at least I get the opportunity to stargaze with telescopes every now and then. One day, I hope to travel to some place and really stargaze, in a place where there is minimal light pollution.

I am thinking of using photos from APOD for personal projects, which doesn’t infringe the copyright. I’m not too sure what yet, but I’m saving this photo for the squealy feeling it gives me (and I probably need a better word for that). You can find more APOD photos here, just remember to check the usage rights if you are planning to use them in any projects. I shall not be held liable for any misuse!

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!