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Mobile Photography Tips - Enhance your photography skills! | Tech Tips

Before the smartphones came into being, photography was more of a hobby limited to the few elites who could afford to buy the expensive cameras and films.

However, thanks to smartphones and their (always improving) amazing cameras, everyone is a photographer now.

Just look at the Instagram or Facebook profiles of anyone. They are filled with amazing photos captured by people using their smartphone cameras. The smartphone cameras are soo good these days that they have replaced the digital cameras, as well as, entry-level DSLRs for many.

And the added advantage of having such an amazing smartphone camera is that it is always with you, unlike a dedicated digital camera or a DSLR. So you are always ready to capture that amazing moment.

However, no matter how good the smartphone cameras become, a good photograph requires some skills and a keen eye.
Mobile Photography Tips - Enhance your photography skills! | Tech Tips

If you want to rise above the sea of regular smartphone photographers and improve your skills, there are a few smartphone photography tips you should always keep in mind, and ultimately add to your habit.

In this article, I will share certain important tips that I consider very important for smartphone photography.

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Mobile Photography Tips

Always Clean the Camera Lens

Before we dive deeper into more intricate and complex sounding tips, the basic tip that you need to remember always is to clean the smartphone camera lens before shooting a photo. 

Your smartphone mostly stays in your pocket where it attracts a lot of dust and lint which sticks to the camera lens. Even during regular usage, there are plenty of times where you unknowingly touch the lens with your hands (thanks to fingerprint scanners present so close to the camera lens on most smartphones).

The dust and your fingerprints can affect the image quality that you get from your smartphone camera.
Mobile Photography Tips

Trust me on this, I have faced this issue myself. Once I had my images, taken with flash in low light, showing blown highlights in one corner of the image. This was ruining the shot every time. I thought the camera had gone bust. But suddenly I thought of cleaning the lens and it all became normal. Images came out sharp and clean as I wanted.

To clean your smartphone camera lens, you can use your t-shirt, shirt or your handkerchief, though a micro fibre cloth is most preferred.

Shoot in Good Light

Always shoot your most important images in plenty of light. Since camera sensors use the light, reflected by the subject, to create an image, it is always better to have adequate light falling on your subject.

Having adequate light ensures that your smartphone camera operates at low ISO values which in turn ensures the presence of higher natural details and lower noise in the final image.

If you are in a low light condition and have to shoot an image, try to have more light fall on your image. If you are indoors, turn on all the light bulbs in the room. If you are out on the street, use the street lamps as a light source.

Avoid Using camera flash

Continuing from the first tip is the second tip which is to avoid using the flash in your camera. your camera flash is very harsh and will, in almost all cases, blow out the image.

Mobile Photography Tips

In place of flash, try and illuminate your subject using other light sources like streetlights. You can also use the flashlight (as a torch) from another smartphone to illuminate the subject. Hold this light at an angle to add a unique perspective to the image.

Tap to Focus

Focussing correctly on the subject is of extreme importance as an out of focus image is a wasted opportunity.

Mobile Photography Tips

The smartphone cameras these days are very good at autofocusing. However, it is still a good practice to tap to focus a couple of time to ensure that the camera has focussed correctly on the subject of your choice.

Experiment with Exposure

When you click an image in auto settings on your smartphone camera, it automatically focusses and adjusts the exposure of the image according to what it thinks is appropriate for the scene. Many smartphones these days have an AI algorithm that recognizes a scene being captured and adjusts the camera settings accordingly.

However, it is always a good practice to experiment with different exposure values to create a different style of shots with a unique look.

For example, when you are shooting a person against a setting sun, when you tap to focus on the person, the background blows out to try and make the subject visible.

However after focussing, if you lower the exposure using the exposure slider present on your camera app, you can achieve amazing silhouette images like this from your smartphone.

Mobile Photography Tips

Rule of Thirds

Every smartphone camera app comes with a built-in feature called grid. When enabled, you get 2 sets of lines running horizontally and vertically, and intersecting each other at 4 distinct points.

Mobile Photography Tips

Quite simply, the rule of thirds states that you should frame your shot in such a way that the primary subject in your image lies on either of the four intersecting points of the grid lines.

According to this theory, having the subject (or interesting content) at these points makes for an interesting perspective and gives the image more character.

Experiment while framing a shot

Always be open to experimenting with different perspectives when framing a shot.

For example, we all typically tend to click an image from our eye level. However, you can try and capture images from waist height or even ground level to add a unique perspective and look to your images.

Similarly, you could also capture a scene from a higher location if possible for a new visual style. Or maybe capture the reflection of a scene in a mirror.

photograhy Tech Tips

Remember, everyone follows the regular shooting ways. Your unique framing styles and visuals will help your images stand out.

Candid

Get close to the subject to capture a sharp and detailed image. 

Many people love the closeup shots, popularly known as portrait shots. Avoid zooming in digitally. Use your feet and move closer to the subject when possible.

Mobile Photography Tips

Such shots allow you to focus on the subject better with improved sharpness, clarity and details. It also allows you to achieve the shallow depth of field (bokeh) like expensive cameras.

Use Manual Mode

If you really want to improve your photography game even further, learn about the various aspects of photography like ISO and shutter speed, and start shooting in manual mode.

Many smartphone cameras allow you to shoot in the manual mode where you can manually change the focus, ISO, shutter speed and white balance values to produce an image according to your needs.

If you are really interested in photography, it is advisable to learn the basics of photography and then experiment using the manual mode. It can really enhance your skills a lot and help you shoot some amazing images.

Shoot RAW

In continuation to the above tip, you should also start shooting in RAW.

Remember the time when images were captured on films. The final images were developed using the negatives from the film roll.

RAW is basically an image format which represents a negative but in digital form. It stores all the data that is captured by the smartphone camera sensor. Then you can edit this RAW file in any image editor on your smartphone (like Snapseed) and generate clean and detailed images having high dynamic range.

Many smartphone cameras these days allow the users to shoot in RAW. If you really want to go deep into photography, you should definitely look into shooting in RAW format and editing your images manually.

You can also select the option to capture both JPEG and RAW which will give you one regular JPEG edited by the camera itself, and one RAW for editing yourself.

Editing

Of course, no image capture will be complete without some editing.

No matter how great the smartphone cameras are, every image can definitely make use of some editing to enhance its visual appeal.

There are plenty of simple and easy to use image editors on smartphones that allow you to edit images. Some of the most popular smartphone image editors are Photoshop Express and Snapseed. Using these tools, you should mainly focus on changing the values for highlights, shadows, clarity, contrast and sharpness in your image.

  • Highlights mean the parts of your image that are very bright. 
  • Similarly, Shadows are the darker parts of your image. 
  • Contrast adds a definite separation between brighter and darker parts of the image. 
  • Clarity and Sharpness are tools to enhance or reduce sharpness and details.

While editing, some of the things you can keep in mind are:
  • When editing a landscape photo, try to make the image detailed, sharp and with higher dynamic range. For this, you should boost the shadows and lower highlights to extract as many details as possible and achieve a higher dynamic range. Increasing the clarity of the image will allow you to recover some details and add overall structure and sharpness to your image.
  • Similarly, when editing a candid (portrait) image, add some contrast to make your subject stand out. You can also lower the clarity to give the skin of the subject a soft look and hide any skin imperfections.
  • Of course, boosting the saturation slightly in all the images definitely helps in making them visually appealing as well.

Final Thoughts

The smartphone cameras are getting better with every passing year. They are no longer dependent on the latest and greatest camera sensors or faster lenses. 

Thanks to the amazing power that the smartphone chips have, the smartphone manufacturers are relying heavily on Computational Photography (which uses multiple frames shot at different exposures to create a single image) as well as AI (changing settings to predefined values based on the recognised scene).

All these advancements are definitely allowing companies like Apple, Samsung and Google to deliver great images, from their smartphone cameras, right out of the box.

But a great image is not just about image processing. It is so much more. And if you are interested in standing out from the crowd, start implementing the above tips in your day to day photography, and try to ultimately add them to your habit.

Do you have any other photography tip to share, that I may have missed?

VIKALP GAUTAM
I am an ardent Techie and a Free Thinker. I love to explore new topics and technologies, and share my knowledge and views with the world.
Follow Me: Twitter | Instagram

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