Don’t just snap – get it right: How to take fab smartphone pics

Smartphones are everywhere. We use them for almost every aspect of our lives. Smartphone cameras have revolutionised photography forever. Before their ubiquitous reign, we were stuck with either hiring a photographer or walking around with bulky cameras. We’ve captured billions of photos with these convenient content creation contraptions. As a result, some terrible excuses for images have surfaced online. Today, we’ll look at ways to improve your smartphone shooting experience.

Use your gridlines

Gridlines help professional photographers add balance to their photos. Gridlines follow the “rule of thirds”. They break up the viewfinder into three sections, both horizontally and vertically. That creates nine squares on your screen. The general rule is to line up your subject on one of the lines or where two lines intersect.

Gridlines help add balance to photos. (Photo: Digital Photography School)

By placing the gridlines over points of interest, your viewer’s eyes will naturally move to that area, and your overall image will look more pleasing. It doesn’t mean all your images MUST always adhere to this rule, but it does help.

Clean your lens

As simple as this sounds, it’s bound to affect your photos one way or another. We use our smartphones multiple times a day. Often, our fingers smudge the camera lens.

Always clean your lens before a photo session.

It’s essential to wipe the area clean before shooting. Otherwise, you’ll end up with blurry shots.

Find your focus

Smartphone cameras use autofocus by default. They usually find the closest objects and lock in there. However, you may want to focus on the background of a scene. Once you figure out what you want to shoot, tap the area on your screen, and your smartphone will switch focus to that part of the scene.

Ensure your subject is in focus.

It helps when taking pictures in busy environments. Focusing on the subject eliminates the ambiguity in your images. Viewers will automatically gravitate to the sharpest part of the image, and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing. So, instead of letting the camera decide, be the master and take control.

Avoid the flash if you can

It’s the norm to see smartphone cameras flash away at events. More than likely the results are overexposed (too bright) red-eyed messes, with ugly colours. If possible, avoid using the flash altogether in favour of natural light.

Instead of blinding your friends, use natural light or other ambient light.

All cameras work similarly. Light comes into the camera system through lenses and hits a sensor. The lighter, the better. However, needing light is no excuse for blinding your friends with a dizzying flash. Instead use another light source like say, the sun.

Image result for smartphone night mode

Even after sunset, there are plenty of light sources that can add to the overall brightness of your images. Also, many modern smartphones have Night Mode. It uses long exposure and techno-wizardry to pull every nit of light from a scene. It works well enough, so long as you stay still or use a tripod.

Go Pro

Many of us pick up our phones and point and shoot using the camera’s automatic settings. Alternatively, using manual controls may yield far more significant results. Many smartphone cameras have a Pro Mode built into the system. It gives users more control over their image capture experience.

Switch to Pro Mode for more control. (Photo: YouTube – Brent Hall)

You can change the white balance, exposure, focus parameters and shutter speed. Some Pro Modes also allow RAW photo capture. RAW formats store photo data that’s perfect for editing. The result will almost always look better than the computational guesses your smartphone makes.

Don’t zoom, get closer

So, you want to take a picture, but the subject is far away. You zoom in and snap the image, but the result is a grainy, blurry mess. Unless you’re shooting a wild beast, it’s much better to get closer to your subject the old-fashioned way.

Going closer to subjects yields better results than digital zoom.

When closer, you retain more detail resulting in a better image. Most smartphone cameras use digital zoom, which inevitably results in worse image quality. So, get out of your seat and get closer to your subject.

These are just a few considerations, but they’re likely to yield better smartphone photography.

krysten ritter photographer GIF by Jessica Jones

Now, you can watch the likes pile up on Instagram.