Smartphones are more popular than ever, and many people are switching to them to take their holiday snaps and fill their family photo albums. They’re small, convenient and always with us – but some say their image quality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
We say the power is in the hands of the photographer. In the right hands, beautiful images can be captured with whatever smart device you have in your pocket. All it takes to improve your phone shots is to learn a few tips and tricks to get better with your smartphone photography. So here are ten steps to smarter results.
1. Get the right exposure
Usually, all it takes to expose your photo correctly is a click of the shutter button. But occasionally, you’ll find that what you’re photographing (ie your subject) is either too dark or too bright.
To adjust for this on the majority of smartphones, simply tap on the area of your screen where the subject lies, and your camera will automatically adjust the exposure to balance it out. Be aware of bright surrounding areas which will be so bright that their details will be lost; sometimes this effect enhances an image, but you may want to recompose to remove anything too distracting.
2. Focus on the little things – but not too closely
Most smartphones can focus close to the subject, but all lenses have a minimum focusing distance – that is, a point in front of the lens at which it doesn’t focus any closer.
If you’re very close and your subject is still blurry, back away until it becomes sharp. It won’t take much, perhaps a couple of centimetres or so. This way you’ll have a sharp image of your subject and be able to crop in on it later to increase its apparent size.
3. Use the grid
On most smartphone cameras there’s a built-in grid that shows the screen sliced into three sections, and this stems from probably the most well-known rule in photography: the rule of thirds.
Read more: How to use Instagram for your photography
Here, the idea is that if you place your subject along one of these lines, or at one of the intersections, you’ll end up with a stronger composition. In the image above, you can see that these window blinds are placed on the lower third of the frame, while the shadow fills the top two thirds for a well-balanced photo.
4. Use window light
The flash on your smartphone is harsh and unflattering. Typically situated right next to the lens, the light comes head-on in relation to your subject and provides you with no dimensionality.
The cheapest and quickest way to get beautiful images is to use the light from your window. If you can, avoid direct sunlight spilling through and opt for the shaded window. Soft, diffuse and wrapping light will complement your subject much better than anything harsh and direct.
5. Get down level
Most of us are used to whipping out the phone, taking a snap and walking off. Yet, when it comes to photographing children or pets, this is rarely the best approach.
By looking down on the child or pet we’re repeating the same angle in which most of us see these subjects all the time. Crouching down to be at he same level as them, however, gives a viewpoint similar to that of your subject.
Get your lens level with your cat, for example, and you’re instantly transported to their world, with towering doors, high-up picture frame, or enormous trees.