How To Take Better Photos With Your Phone
Photography is a fun and fascinating process. It’s easier now than ever to get started too. Long gone are the days of needing portable darkrooms or waiting hours to take a single photograph. You can dive in and start snapping away at anything that piques your interest.Since the technical barrier to photography has been drastically reduced, we have much more time to focus on how to take good pictures. We’ve compiled 47 photography tips for beginners that show quick ways to improve photography techniques without over complicating things.
In the never-ending quest for great mobile photos, it can be tempting to ditch the camera app that comes with your phone for something far more advanced and exotic. However, if you know what you’re doing, you can get some high-quality results from the default camera app on your iPhone or Android device
For the purposes of this guide we’ve focused on features in the default camera apps for the latest versions of iOS and stock Android. If you’re not running stock Android, you should find most of these tips still apply, and if you want to you can download the stock camera app from Google.
Learn the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds acts as a guide to help you frame your shot correctly. You need to imagine your shot as split up into nine rectangular segments, and keep important objects and elements running along these lines or close to the intersections where they meet. With the camera apps for Android and iOS, you don’t have to visualize these lines yourself. On Android, tap the menu button and choose Settings then Show grid in viewfinder; on iOS, go to Photos & Camera in the main Settings app and toggle the Grid switch to on.
Find a steady support
For a lot of mobile photos, a steady hand is crucial—particularly in low light situations where your phone’s going to struggle to get much light into the lens. You can buy mobile tripods if you want to get the best results, but it’s just another thing to carry around.If you don’t have a tripod then use something else to keep your phone steady: a wall, a table, a mantelpiece. The self-timer in the camera apps for Android and iOS can help too, letting you leave your phone up on a shelf somewhere without having to get behind it.
Change your focus
Whether you use an iPhone or an Android device, you can tap the screen anywhere to change the focus of the shot. This will also change the exposure level to match the spot you’ve selected, so it’s a handy way of brightening a darker area (or dimming a light one). Those of you with iPhones can tap and hold to lock the focus and exposure, so it stays fixed even if the phone then moves, or tap, hold, and drag up or down to manually change the exposure level yourself. You’ll see a small sun icon showing the changes.
Use the physical shutter button
Speaking of keeping your phone camera steady, trying to hold your phone in place and then tap a software shutter button in the middle of the screen isn’t always easy, and it can often cause your handset to wobble at that crucial moment when you’re taking the shot.The solution is to use either of the physical volume buttons to snap your picture instead (the trick works on iPhones, Nexus devices, and most other Android phones too). It’s not always going to be the best option but it’s a useful alternative to have in some situations.
Apply HDR mode automatically
The latest versions of the default camera apps for both Android and iOS now include auto HDR modes that apply a High Dynamic Range filter as and when the situation suits it. You can see the HDR toggle switch located right on the shutter screen itself on both OSes.
High Dynamic Range, in mobile photography at least, refers to keeping the darkest and lightest parts of your image in balance (so a bright sky doesn’t completely obliterate a dark landscape). It requires a longer exposure, so keep your phone as steady as you can.
Clean the lens
Let’s not forget some of the more practical aspects of taking good mobile photos: for example, any spots on the camera lens are going to interfere with your mobile pictures to a pretty significant degree, so it pays to keep this part of your phone as clean as you can.You don’t necessarily need anything special for the job, and a clean, lint-free cloth should work just fine in most cases. Using a cotton swab very lightly dampened with distilled water is another option if you need to clean specks of dirt that are on the top of the lens.
Avoid camera shake
Camera shake can render a photo unusable. Increasing your ISO and opening up your aperture allows for quicker shutter speeds, reducing the chance of blurry images. However, this is not always an option if you’re trying to maintain other specific qualities of your image. Start by doing what you can to reduce camera movement, which begins with learning how to properly hold a camera.
Utilize the photography “golden hour”
Lighting is paramount since it dictates the shape, texture, contrast, and shadows in your images. The golden hour is about a one-hour window briefly after sunrise or before sunset.The longer shadows and especially the more diffused light during these periods provide much more flattering light. Since the light is diffused, you’re much less likely to ‘blow out’ highlights or lose detail in the shadows that are difficult to avoid during the strong light available during most of the day.
Make use of reflections
Sometimes you’ll take photographs that don’t properly expose your subject—they are way too bright, or way too dark. This can be a combination of a few things: which areas of the scene your camera measured for exposure, and how different in brightness the light and dark areas are in your scene. You can quickly fix these images by using the in-camera exposure compensation to make your subject look just right.