5 things to try with your phone’s camera when you’re bored


It isn’t as onerous as you would possibly suppose.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Attempting new artistic challenges can’t solely assist preserve your thoughts centered, however it might probably additionally train you new abilities you need to use afterward. And what higher instrument to get these artistic juices flowing than your trusty telephone? Whether or not you are making an attempt to get impressed after months of lockdown otherwise you’re simply after a enjoyable undertaking to strive at dwelling with the household, there are a great deal of methods your telephone — particularly, your telephone’s digital camera — may also help you get these mind cells firing on all cylinders. And the good factor is you do not even want to depart the home. 

These picture tips work on the brand new iPhone 13 ProGalaxy S21 Ultra, Pixel 6 and different, older telephones. If nothing else, these pictures challenges would possibly simply stave off boredom a bit longer and should even provide some enjoyable weekend actions to strive with the children this winter.

Do not forget to take a look at our phone photography 101 section for extra pictures ideas and tips, in addition to my roundup of the best photo editing apps for each iPhone and Android. 


Composite pictures would possibly take some time, but it surely’s price your time.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

1. Make a artistic composite

Composite pictures means mixing completely different photographic parts from a number of photographs into one completed shot. At a fundamental stage, it may be used to easily exchange a sky on a panorama picture, however with some experimentation it might probably provide infinite alternatives for creativity. 

In my occasion, I needed to composite myself into the identical scene a number of instances — nearly as if it is displaying all of the various things I may very well be as much as all through the day in a single picture. 

Placing it collectively was fairly simple. Here is how:

1. Put the telephone on a tripod.

2. Body your shot as required utilizing the lens choices, if accessible.

3. Both set your telephone on a 10-second timer, or use a Bluetooth distant.

4. Get into your scene and take a picture.

5. Transfer into a number of positions, taking a picture every time. Be sure that the digital camera would not transfer in any respect between photographs.

6. Mix the pictures collectively in Photoshop by layering them on prime of one another and erasing the areas you don’t need.


I took this selfie with the iPhone 11 Professional’s front-facing digital camera, in portrait mode, proper up in opposition to my lounge window to create the mirrored impact. I edited in Lightroom cell.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

2. Follow portraits

Whether or not you take a photograph of a accomplice, a member of the family, a flatmate, and even your pet, taking portraits is usually a nice artistic outlet. Stay alone? No drawback, flip that digital camera and use the selfie mode, and even put your telephone on a tripod when you’ve got one and begin mugging for the digital camera.

Go searching your home and see the place you suppose may make for an attention-grabbing scene. Maybe you may have an outdated leather-based chair that somebody may pose in. Possibly you may have an uncommon rug that you may have your topic lie on so you’ll be able to shoot from above. You may as well strive some photographs trying wistfully out of the window.

Experiment with the lighting too. Pure gentle coming in from home windows is your finest wager, so doing photographs close to them is an effective place to start out. However perhaps there is a cool lamp you may use as a single, moody gentle supply to lend some creative drama to the shot. You might additionally seize an LED gentle panel from Amazon and take a look at including your personal lighting.


Okay, it isn’t the best picture of meals on the planet, however I am fairly restricted in what I can prepare dinner proper now and this omelette was no less than extra engaging than the baked beans I had yesterday. I put the plate on a horny tabletop close to a window and shot straight down with my iPhone.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

3. Nonetheless life scenes

Nonetheless life may embody plenty of several types of photographs — from shiny and ethereal top-down photographs of a beautiful salad or freezer meal you’ve made, to product photographs of your laptop computer, video games controller, new sneakers or certainly something you suppose may {photograph} properly. You might even simply seize a pleasant number of issues from round your home that, when artfully organized, may make for a pleasant picture.

The lighting rules are a lot the identical as together with your portraits. Use home windows the place potential as these probably present the most important, brightest gentle sources in your home. Meals photographers frequently use pure gentle of their imagery to maintain that practical life-style look to their photographs. Mess around with the place you are positioning your topics and take a look at taking pictures from completely different angles to get the sunshine in simply the suitable place. 

4. Make a brief movie

Making a brief movie could be nice enjoyable as it’s a must to take into consideration a number of completely different parts of manufacturing. First, after all, is what your movie must be about. Possibly you wish to attempt to movie a gritty crime drama with your loved ones because the solid. Maybe it is about your pet cat and the issues they stand up to in the course of the day. 

My brief movie was all in regards to the course of of creating a beautiful cup of tea. After deciding on what movie I needed to make, I then considered what steps can be concerned in filming the method. On your crime drama, this may be if you’re writing a script and understanding what photographs it’s essential get to place all of it collectively. 

Making a cup of tea is a really formulaic course of, so understanding what to movie was simple: filling the kettle with water, ready for it to boil, pouring the water and so forth. I added some additional scene-setting footage at first and an ending shot of me having fun with the tea I might made.

It was shot fully on my iPhone 11 Professional, utilizing an Edelkrone slider that permits you to create easy, sliding movement to your photographs and an anamorphic lens by Second, to provide that cinematic large side ratio look. I edited it in Adobe Premiere on my MacBook Pro ($689 at Amazon), however you may simply edit your personal movie in iMovie straight in your iPhone or utilizing Adobe Premiere Rush in your Android telephone.

I actually loved the method because it pressured me to suppose not solely about angles and lighting as I might in my regular pictures, but additionally about visually inform a narrative that made sense to somebody watching. It was nice enjoyable making an attempt to be extra experimental with my taking pictures and enhancing type, too, so it was positively a good way to spend a couple of hours at dwelling on a quiet afternoon. 


The unedited shot (left), subsequent to the ultimate model (proper). I used the iPhone’s lengthy publicity mode to blur the water, then used numerous shade instruments in Lightroom cell to create the look you see right here.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

5. Work in your enhancing

You may not be capable to exit and shoot an entire collection of recent photographs, however that does not imply you’ll be able to’t make nice use of photographs you have already taken. 

Each the Android and iOS app shops are filled with apps that supply a wealth of artistic enhancing choices on your photographs, with a seemingly infinite variety of filters, frames and funky aptitude you’ll be able to apply. 

Snapseed is a favourite of mine and it is free on each platforms. It has quite a lot of shade filters accessible (together with ones that give your scene a punchy “HDR” look in addition to extra classic tone choices) but it surely additionally offers extra in-depth enhancing instruments resembling the flexibility to selectively paint brightness into simply the areas you need. You may as well get extra artistic with apps like Photofox and Bazaart, each of which I used to create the self portrait on the prime of this text. 

My recommendation is to have a flick thru your gallery in your telephone, trying again on the weeks, months or years of photographs you have taken. Mark those that actually stand out as your favorites, then quiet down onto your couch together with your drink of selection, hearth up some enhancing apps and go to city in your photographs. 

Not solely would possibly you breathe some artistic new life into photographs you’d lengthy since forgotten about, however you might also be taught some invaluable new methods to place into motion if you’re lastly in a position to get out taking pictures once more.

Learn extra: 5 Masterclass classes to become a filmmaker: Learn from Martin Scorsese, Jodie Foster and more  

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