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A Guide to Better Smartphone Photography: Tips and Tricks

Staff Writer / 08-09-2020 / News

The world of photography has evolved in leaps and bounds since the invention of the camera. Just a few decades ago, the best that everyday consumers could do were cumbersome cameras with rolls of film and disposable flashlights, but then along came digital cameras and finally, smartphone cameras, which changed the game and gave amateur photographers pretty much the same tools as their professional counterparts.

Today, almost every person is a photographer thanks to the technological advances of the smartphone. However, taking pro-quality pics requires a little more knowledge than simply touching a shutter button, so we’ve put together this handy guide of tips and tricks to help you master the art of smartphone photography.

Clean the Lens

This is often overlooked on smartphones. Before you’re about to capture lasting memories, it’s a good idea to wipe down the lens. Sure, you may assume your jeans are the ideal spot to rub it down, but over time, you will damage the lens. Rather use a soft, microfibre cloth to remove any dirt from the camera lens and you’re good to go.

The Rule of Thirds

Professional photographers apply the rule of thirds to capture the perfect image. According to this theory, the screen is split into nine equal blocks, forming a three by three grid in front of you. The key is to have the most important parts of your image in the section where the lines intersect. As a result, your image is well-balanced and level, which is more appealing to viewers. You can access the grid by checking your smartphones camera settings as it’s available on both Android and Apple products.

Fix Your Focus

When you whip out your smartphone, it immediately focuses on the objects closest to the camera lens. However, you may want to capture an image that is further away than your lens is sensing. All you have to do is adjust the focus of the lens. You do this by simply tapping on the object on your screen. You may find a square or circle icon on the screen which allows you to shift the focus to any object in your view.

Highlighting the Subject

There’s always an interesting point in every image you snap. When you decide on what that subject is, take the picture so that the subject stands out as the focal point of the image. The professionals recommend that the subject doesn’t fill the entire frame and instead two-thirds of the frame should be negative space, helping the subject to stand out. Tapping your screen to focus on the subject further assists with highlighting the subject. Post-production work could be handy here by improving colours or brightness to bring attention to the subject.

Find an Angle

This is where you allow your creative juices to flow. Taking photos from various angles not only makes the image unique but creates an illusion of depth or height. Focusing the camera upward and using the empty sky as negative space is different. It’s the same with taking pics from higher up of a subject below.

The Importance of Light

The flash on smartphones isn’t bright enough to create astonishing images, especially if the subject of the shot is far away. Always use as much natural light as possible so you don’t have to rely on artificial lighting. The colours are truer in natural light, which makes the images sharper. Furthermore, always ensure your subjects have light shining on them from the front instead of the back. When there’s a strong light source coming from behind, you will end up with a dark silhouette of the subject.

Keep Steady

It is difficult with a smartphone but if you want high-quality pictures, you have to steady your shot. Even the slightest movement could ruin a great picture. Invest in a tripod or use your other arm to ensure the smartphone remains still.

Take Photo Bursts

The days of considering the amount of film you have left are long gone. You should have enough storage capacity built in to your phone or by using an SD card to allow you the freedom to take photo bursts. Essentially, holding down the shutter button allows the phone to snap multiple images, which is great if you’re shooting a sporting event or if you have that one family member that always closes their eyes. Photo bursts solves that problem as you can save the images you love and delete the rest. Head to your camera settings to activate photo bursts, available for both Apple and Android.

Get in Close

It’s tempting to use the zoom function on your smartphone, but it will never produce superior quality photos. There will be a hint of pixelation or a grainy effect. To avoid this, get as close to your subject as possible. Unless of course, you’re capturing wild animals.

Third-Party Camera

You don’t have to settle for the default camera on your smartphone. There are a variety of third-party camera apps which give you so much more. Afterlight is a prime example for both iOS and Android. It allows you to control shutter speed and other factors, such as filters. Editing photos on Instagram is also a good option, but third-party apps tend to do a better job.

Candid Camera

While posing for photos is the default way everybody takes pics, it’s much more interesting to capture candid shots. People in the act of doing something are far more interesting and can tell a story much better than any posed shot can do.

Don’t Be Afraid to Edit

Capturing images with your smartphone camera is only the first step of the process. You must focus on editing and put in the time to understand the various factors you can add or subtract from an image. There’s a wide range of filters available that takes an ordinary photo and transforms it into something special. Spend time with your editing apps and learn every aspect of the editor to make your pictures stand out.

Happy Snapping!

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