Tag Archives: Smartphone photography

459.SM-New Phone? Don’t Lose Your Pictures!

Geeks on Tour Tutorial video #459 Google Photos: When you get a New Phone, do you want access to All Your Photos? Google Photos is the best way to get all your photos on your new phone, but there are two things you must do with your old phone before you let it go!
See companion blog post at https://learngooglephotos.blogspot.com/2016/12/getting-new-phone-wait-dont-lose-your.html

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How to Take Panorama Pictures with your Smartphone

Trinidad de Cuba, Photo by Jim Guld with a Nexus 6 Android phone.

Lake Santa Fe, Florida: Photo by Chris Guld with an iPhone 7+

When you travel, you get so many opportunities for beautiful photos, and, if you have a smartphone you have one of the best cameras ever made. Taking panoramas, like the photos above is just a simple setting. To learn the basics of taking pictures with you smartphone, see Episode 110 of What Does This Button Do? Smartphone Camera Essentials.

iPhone Pano Setting

When you open the Camera app on an iPhone, you will see words just above the shutter button: Time-Lapse, Slo-Mo, Video, Photo, Square, Pano. You may need to swipe left on the screen until you see Pano, then tap on it. It means Panorama.

  • Tap Pano
  • You need to hold the phone vertically to take a wide panorama picture. (if you hold it horizontally, you can take a vertical panorama)
  • You will see an arrow and a line telling you to pan the phone from left to right, keeping the arrow on the line. If you want to pan from right to left, just tap the arrow and it will turn around.
  • Tap the shutter button (white circle) to begin panning, tap it again to stop.
  • That’s it, you can view the panorama in Google Photos (or Apple Photos)

Android Panorama

Unless you have a very off-brand Android phone, you have a panorama setting somewhere! Be aware that every model of Android phone or tablet may be a bit different. First open the camera app. The panorama mode might be under a settings button, or a 3-line menu with choices, or a 3-dot menu with choices. When I open the camera app on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, I see a button called Mode. I Tap that and Panorama is one of the choices.

  • Tap Panorama
  • You need to hold the phone vertically to take a wide panorama picture. (If you hold it horizontally, you can take a vertical panorama.)
  • You will see a horizontal bar where the panorama appears as you pan the phone. Some models don’t show this until after you start panning.
  • Tap the shutter button and start panning; tap it again to stop.
  • That’s it – you can view the panorama in Google Photos (or Gallery)

Watch these 1 minute videos to see Panorama in action.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She is the author of Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly online show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, computer clubs, and senior centers, for many years.

Smartphones and Video–Slow Motion and Time Lapse

imageEX = Explore and Experiment. These are two things you should be doing with your smartphone all the time! Just when you think you can’t possibly find anything new your phone can do, a friend will tap a button that makes magic happen and you’ll ask, “How’d you DO that?” One of those things for me is the fun, speeded up videos that are popping up on Facebook all the time.

I understood the iPhones ability to take Slow Motion video, but in one of our smartphone photography classes a student played with the Time-Lapse setting instead and showed me a video of me walking around the classroom looking like an old Keystone Cops movie! So, that made me explore my phone a bit more, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and I found a setting for Video Recording Mode called Fast motion.


After choosing Fast, you then get to choose how fast? 2X, 4X, or 8X. I chose 8X to record Jim and me working on our backyard patio in the video below. When you take video using this mode, you’ll notice that even after you’ve been filming for a full minute, it’s only registered 7 seconds! It’s SOO easy, no editing involved, no fancy setup. I did all the recording using the phone handheld. No need to worry about sound, it simply doesn’t capture sound at all. I took several video clips during this 3 day project, plus a few photos and normal speed videos. Then I used Google Photos movie making feature to put them together into this one minute movie:

Next time you get out your phone to take a picture, explore the settings – do you find a Time-Lapse or Fast Motion setting? If so, try it! You can always delete the results, but who knows? You may just really like it! Whaddaya say?

Easy Photo Editing with Google Photos

By Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com

imageYears ago, in 2009, we were guests of Google at their headquarters in Mountain View, California (see our personal blog posts : 11/13/09 post, second post. The joint webinar we did with the Picasa team at Google is still viewable on Youtube it’s called Picasa Basics Webinar. I remember discussing with them the direction of Picasa and telling of how our audience wanted … needed … simple tools. At that time, their mission was to improve Picasa, to build more sophisticated photo editing tools that professional photographers wanted. Our opinion was that the power was in the simplicity and we lobbied for the simpler path.

Now we have Google Photos and I hear many comments that the photo editing tools are too limited, when you click the edit tool, you only have 3 options: 1)Basic Adjustments 2)Color Filters 3)Crop and Rotate. But, guess what?! Those 3 options cover 90% of what most people need to do with their photos. I think it’s GREAT! I think Google is on the right path with Google Photos. With just a few, easy options, people will actually use them, and their pictures will be so much better for it! Just the one click option for Auto Adjustments is SO good, it improves a picture in ways that took several adjustments, and lots of know-how, in other software. Here’s a short video to show you what I mean:

Photo Editing

If you want to learn more and start using Google Photos, become a Geeks on Tour Member  and watch our series of videos on Getting Started with Google Photos.

Google Photos Tutorial Videos

Don’t Settle for the Camera that Came with Your Smartphone

2013-08-01 15.10.18Your smartphone has a camera lens, a sensor, and a shutter, but it’s the software, the Camera App that makes it a camera.  All smartphones come with a stock Camera app, but there is so much more!  Here is an article by CNET on the 12 best Android camera apps around.  And, here’s an article from howstuffworks on 10 Great iPhone Camera Apps.

What is HDR

I just want to tell you about the one extra camera app that I use – it’s called Pro HDR.  No, HDR doesn’t stand for High Definition something … it stands for High Dynamic Range.  It is a special photographic technique intended for scenes that have a wide range of exposure needs.  A lot of light, and a lot of dark. 

The HDR technique takes 3 separate photos of these scenes at 3 different exposures.  This way it can get the perfect exposure for the light parts AND the perfect exposure for the dark parts.  It also takes a middle exposure.  When these three pictures are put together, you not only get a great exposure but also depth in the color.  I love taking HDR photos – they look so special.

Professional photographers actually take 3 different exposures manually and put them together later to produce HDR photos.  See some excellent examples here.

HDR on a Smartphone

To take an HDR photo with a smartphone, you just need an app that automatically takes the 3 exposures and puts them together.  On the iPhone with iOS 6 HDR is a simple on/off option on the stock camera app.  It takes the 3 exposures so fast, you don’t even know it.

On my Android phone, I downloaded the Pro HDR app – I think I paid $1.99 for it.  Now when I want a special picture, I just open the Pro HDR app instead of the camera app and take my picture that way.  I works slow enough that you can see the three exposures being taken.  In the examples below, I show an inside/outside picture taken with the stock camera app and explain the problems.  The last picture was taken with the Pro HDR app.


#1: taken with stock camera app, chose to set exposure on the copper kettle, scene outside window is washed out

2013-07-05 11.46.29


#2 taken with stock camera app, chose to set exposure to outside windows, copper kettle is too dark

2013-07-05 11.53.03


#3 taken with Pro HDR cameraapp, it took 3 exposures: 1 for outside, 1 for inside, and one medium, then put them together for perfect exposure and rich colors


If you want to learn more about making the most of your smartphone camera, look for Geeks on Tour at RV rallies and computer clubs where we teach our smartphone photography class.  You can also request a class for your group if you see we’ll be in your area.  Take a look at our Calendar and then fill out a request form.