If you’ve got your hands on a smartphone, you’re halfway to creating some beautiful photos that can be taken in real time, in the moment. A smartphone camera is so versatile, but can be confusing and tricky if you haven’t yet mastered how to use it.
Here’s our best tips on how to take a great photo, whether it’s of the grandkids, or a new project, a ‘selfie’ or a beautiful landscape.
1. Turn off the flash
It might sound silly but if you turn off the flash, you have a much better chance of taking a quality photo. Flash sends a burst of light onto your subject and if you’re too close, they may get the dreaded wash-out and red eyes. Use flash sparingly and only to enhance. Natural light or good lighting is always best!
2. Clean your lens
Smartphones have the tendency to get grubby easily, especially the lens – it’s right where you put your fingers to hold the phone. Use your glasses cloth to give it a wipe before taking that great shot.
3. Rule of thirds
Smartphone cameras need to be treated like real cameras in that you should compose a photo just like you would if it were a standalone camera. Delete photos that are blurry or not centred! Get your subject in the bottom half or the middle of your photo to ensure a perfect shot every time.
4. Get the focus right
If you find your photos are too blurry, it could be because your camera is out of focus. Most smartphones let you tap to choose where you want the focus to be, as the camera typically will guess where you’re trying to aim. Your camera app may have a feature called AF lock which can also help keep focus exactly where you want it to be, even if you recompose the frame.
If you have an iPhone, press and hold the focus square over the desired point. The square will flash, and an AE/AF lock option should appear, showing that the exposure and focus have been locked. To change or remove the lock, you can just tap again on the screen.
Android devices may need a dedicated app to help lock focus – Camera FV-5 is a good place to start.
5. Hold it steady
Blurry photos can be caused by an unsteady hand so if you’re having trouble holding it straight, there are a wide variety of cheap mini tripods available that can clip on to your phone so you can do it hands free!
6. Use panorama
Did you know you can take on long shot on your camera? If you’re looking at an amazing mountain or beach but want to capture it all, most new phones will give you the option of panorama, i.e. a 180 degree or 360 degree photo. You can start from any point and press the capture button whilst in the mode, then slowly move the camera in the direction of the arrow on your screen. Once complete, stop moving and the phone will save the image!
7. Don’t zoom
It sounds silly but zooming in on your smartphone might ruin a great photo. Because smartphones use digital zoom instead of optical zoom, there is no difference between a photo taken in 0x zoom and one in 20x zoom except for how pixelated it’s gotten. This is because digital zoom doesn’t use lens projection (ie the lens doesn’t come out of your iPhone and moves in and out), it will just crop the image and magnify that spot. So all you need to do is take the photo normally and then crop later for a much better result.
8. Self timer
There is typically a self-timer option on smartphone cameras, which allows the photographer to get in the photo whilst the camera counts down to take it. So you can balance your phone on a tripod or upright surface and press the self timer button, get in place and wait til it takes the photo (you’ll know, whether the screen lights up or it beeps).
Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. All you need to do is grab your phone and get snapping.
Tell us, what’s the best photo you’ve taken on your smartphone? Share with us below.