Smartphones can take amazing photos, but a good image also requires skill. There is no way to learn photography in a day, but you can follow simple guidelines to significantly improve results immediately. Today we are here to give you five smartphone photography tips that won’t fail. Let’s jump right in.
Smartphones can take amazing photos, but a good image also requires skill.
Keep photography composition in mind: Rule of thirds
Good composition trumps everything; it can turn a mundane snapshot into a masterpiece. This part of producing an image is crucial, which is why a proficient photographer can take a stunning picture even with the cheapest smartphone cameras.
Good composition trumps everything; it can turn a mundane snapshot into a photography masterpiece.
Learning the rules of composition is not as simple as reading an article here, but we can give you a head start by teaching you the rule of thirds. This is the most basic of photography tips and popular rule of composition, but if applied correctly, it can make your image substantially more aesthetically pleasing.
The rule of thirds is simple: draw two equally distanced imaginary lines horizontally, then do the same vertically. This will create a 3 x 3 grid. All you need to do is make sure your main subject or focus point is in one of the cross-sections.
There will likely be an option to turn on this grid in your camera settings. Most smartphones have it, and it is a great visual tool for applying the rule of thirds.
Pro tip: Though this photography tip is a favorite and has a great chance at success, the rule of thirds is also easy to mess up. People commonly leave too much dead space around in favor of placing the subject in one of the cross-sections. Learn more about composition in the post linked below.
Learn more: Photography tips for more advanced users
Kill the flash!
Not using flash is one of the best photography tips I can give you. Unless strategically located and carefully measured, a flash will usually ruin an image. It can create harsh highlights, deep blacks, and squinty eyes, making people look like deer in headlights. I strongly suggest you avoid using flash unless it is pitch dark and you really need the light.
Smartphones have gotten very good at capturing under low-light situations, so in many cases, you may not even be losing much in terms of exposure.
Night Mode and HDR are your photography friends
While we are on the topic of low light photography tips, a new technique has been making the rounds in the smartphone market. The name differs depending on the manufacturer. Google calls it Night Sight, Samsung names it Bright Night, Huawei refers to it as Night Mode, and OnePlus titles it Nightscape.
If your phone has one of these, or an alternative, you can use it to enhance photos taken under extremely low light. It works similar to an HDR photo, shooting a series of images under different exposure levels. It then merges these and pulls detail from all pictures to create an enhanced final image.
HDR stands for “high dynamic range.” It is a technique used by photographers to balance light levels in a scene It is commonly used in situations in which there are significant differences of exposure within a single frame. You have probably seen HDR mode on your smartphone. You should turn it on when you want to capture more detail in the shadows and highlights.
I would also recommend you learn how to make an HDR photo manually. While a phone’s HDR mode improves shots, machine hasn’t beaten man when it comes to producing a quality HDR photo.
To use, or not to use Burst Mode in photography?
I am not a fan of “spraying and praying.” You should be able to compose an image without having to shoot a bunch of photos and hope that one will turn out good. Most times people end up with dozens of nearly identical images anyways. In most cases, this means that if the first image was bad, all others will be too. What’s the point of wasting your energy and storage space?
This doesn’t mean you should avoid Burst Mode, as it is a great tool to use under certain circumstances. You just need to learn when to use it. If you are taking a photo of flowers (like the one above), what are the chances of the scene changing much from frame to frame? The wind would have to be pretty strong.
Don't avoid burst mode, just learn when to use it.
Burst Mode will help when you are shooting some form of action or unpredictable subject. It is especially helpful when photographing sports, wildlife, or any moving object. In such cases, the scene changes significantly very rapidly, and your chances of capturing a better image are higher if you take as many photos as possible, in the shortest time possible.
Edit your photos!
A camera will rarely capture an image the way you want it. You have to help it with skill, knowledge, and editing. It’s surprising how much a simple edit can improve an image. We are not talking about complex Photoshop enhancements and montages, but you should at least correct white balance, fix exposure, crop, remove imperfections, and enhance colors. This can be done using plenty of mobile apps, but Snapseed is a great one. I am also a huge fan of Lightroom, but that one requires a monthly subscription.
Keep these five tips in mind when shooting with your smartphone and you should see improved results immediately. But of course, there is a lot more to photography than this quick article. To learn more about the subject, check out our links below.