11 Tips and Tricks for The Best Smartphone Photos

In the past decade, we’ve seen the compact camera market crash, social media explode, and smartphones become the most important cameras around. However, camera performance has become more important than ever on the latest phones. It’s not about ensuring that your calls are clear – it’s about getting good photos.

We’re not saying that there’s no room for real cameras any more – far from it – but for the average user, smartphones are the go-to camera. We’ve put together some top tips to help you get the most out of the camera on your phone, no matter if you have the most expensive iPhone or the cheapest Android phone.

1. Clean the lens.

If you aren’t happy with the quality of your photos, return to your phone and change your settings. It’s easy to take photos that look a bit milky because of the filters on many smartphones, but if the subject is really not sharp, the image won’t look good. If you’re taking pictures with your phone, you could be looking at a very messy lens – this is the most common problem we see with smartphone cameras. Because phones are small, it’s easy to accidentally scratch the lens of your camera when you are doing other things with your phone. You might be spending all day checking your phone and making sure you clean it well before you start snapping photos.

Clean the lens

When the sun starts to shine, you’ll struggle to get a good shot of anything. But if you just wipe it away, you’ll get a much clearer picture. This is really important for your front camera, too. You want to take great photos every time you start taking pictures. You want your selfies to be great, so take the time to wipe any dirt or makeup off your lens. Then you’ll have a perfect picture.

2. Focusing.

Focus is important when taking a photo of something – it determines the effect that the camera will produce. Cameras have become much better at focusing on the subject of a photo in recent years, but don’t just point and press the shutter button. Take your time and check that what you’re planning to take a photo of is in focus.

Focusing

Many smartphones have built-in features that enable you to quickly focus on what you want to capture, such as the ability to tap the screen and get a focus on that object. Click anywhere on the screen to focus, and it will automatically focus on that object. If it won’t focus on something, you’re probably too close to it, especially if it’s a tiny object. Try moving further back in the frame. Try moving back a little.

More recently, the advent of bokeh or portrait modes on cameras has made it easier to create a deep field of view. If you remove distracting background objects or try bokeh on a photo, the result is that it helps your subject stand out more, but it can also look a bit artificial. Some phones allow you to adjust the strength of this effect, and sometimes reducing it a little will help you get a better result. But if you try to blur the background, you might not get a great result – if it looks too harsh, it won’t look good.

3. Composition.

Now think about what you’re trying to show in the photo and what you’re trying to achieve by taking the photo. You can easily change the shape of your photo after you’ve taken it, but if the photo is full of distracting background details or it’s not clear what you’re trying to show, it’s not going to look good. Stop and think about what kind of picture you want to give people and what you want them to think when they look at it.

Composition

Photographers use the rule of thirds to get subjects in positions that look good. Imagine having a big white board with a grid on it, and having a picture that looks like a game of tic-tac-toe on top of it. Things that matter are aligned along those lines or at the intersections of those lines, so that they have the greatest impact. It’s very simple and it works well.

There are many other ways you can do this, like using angles or paths, like a fence or a path to give a sense that the photo is larger and has more detail. Pay attention to the horizon – is your photo level?

4. Pay attention to the direction the sun is moving.

Sunny days are great for taking pictures of lovely things like blue skies and luscious greenery, but be aware of where the sun is when you pull out your phone to take a picture. When you shoot very close to the sun, you could be killing people by blowing out highlights in areas where there is no detail.

If that happens, try using your hand to try and shade the lens. This will help you to avoid having to put the lens into the shot and you will get a great result. When you photograph people, pay attention to where they are in their shadows and think about the best angle from which to take a photo – for example, if you are shooting people in a beautiful setting, you don’t want them standing in front of the sun to look in the distance – but if you are shooting someone in a dazzling position, he may be the one looking into the sun.

But the sun can provide many opportunities to make dramatic images. Using a low sun to create dramatic silhouettes and long shadows is a great way to get something different. This photograph shows one of the many ways you can shoot from the sun. You can also use portrait mode to produce some really strange looking pictures.

5. It’s easy to get really crazy pictures when you use flash – it’s very easy to create unusual effects when you use flash.

The flash that your phone uses is not very useful and you’ll get better results if you turn off the flash. When shooting in low light, turning off your flash can help your camera do some amazing things. When shooting a concert in darkness, turn off the flash. It’s unlikely that the flash will reach the stage, so turn it off. You might even damage the glass when you take a shot at the zoo if you do that. You’re not only taking a bad photo, but you’re causing problems for the animals that are nearby. Do not be afraid of the zoo animals.

Flashes are great in some situations, especially in bright light. Flash is most effective when it’s bright outside and your subject is in the shadow – it shows a great face when you shoot a photo. Sometimes the flash on your front camera can be very useful, because it can help you to take a great selfie in dark conditions where you’d otherwise get nothing. Even though we think you should ditch flash altogether 90% of the time, it’s not impossible to get some great images from it.

6. Keep your phone steady!

This is as true for smartphones as it is for any other camera. If you’re doing things like that, your shots will be very good. If you keep your phone steady, you’ll be able to take great pictures. If you accidentally press a button, don’t take a photo; stay calm and enjoy your photo! Many mobile phones offer optical image stabilisation and AI correction for shaking when you shake your phone, but staying still is often the best thing you can do.

When your smartphone is stabilised, it’s helpful to use two hands to help you with the phone – if you can do that, it will give you a better picture. Alternatively, you may need something solid to support your phone like a table or a sturdy piece of furniture.

With phones getting smarter and more flexible, having a tripod and a smart mount for your phone will allow you to take amazing photos in any condition – even at night when you’ll probably die trying to get a good selfie – or even taking photos that you can’t get a good photo of.

7. Use night mode. You’ll get some amazing results using night mode.

Night mode is the biggest camera feature to have arrived on smartphones in the past 5 years. Google Pixel, Huawei, Samsung – all phones these days have some sort of night mode so if you think it’s night, use it. If it’s dark, start using night mode.

Use night mode. It gives your phone a clear idea of what you are looking for, and enables you to make some good decisions on how to take the best photos. Most smartphones now have night modes that can help you shoot shots that were impossible a few years ago while others allow you to take photos that take longer exposures, for even better results.

But it doesn’t have to be fancy – it could be just some friends on a night out.

8. Take advantage of the camera options on your smartphone.

It might seem obvious, but smartphones have added more lenses, meaning there are more opportunities for photos. Smartphone cameras can now take better photos at a higher zoom, but many are also able to capture stunning wide-angle shots. It means you can get a lot more from your photos and make different combinations. Some phones allow you to connect a second camera to capture more data, but we’d much rather have a good wide-angle lens to take great photos.

If you know what your phone can do, then go and do it. It’s important to take a lot more photos when you have a good camera, even if that means deleting a lot of them. It helps to know what results you can get from using the different camera options on your phone and having a good idea of what you’re going to photograph.

9. Software can help you capture great photos.

All the photos above are straight out of your phone, with no software on them. But smartphones use a lot of software or AI to improve their quality and give you photos that look better. These new features from smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei and even Google will help you to take better photos. Google Photos is even better than that, being able to produce even more dramatic pictures in the background.

There are plenty of photo editing apps that let you easily make simple changes to a picture. Using popular photo editing apps, you can easily alter a photo to make it look more dramatic. You can easily make a few changes to a photo like changing the brightness or sharpening it or even increasing the saturation for more dramatic results. When you have just a few taps on your phone, you can do some amazing things with apps like Snapseed or Photoshop Express. You can find more great iPhone and Android apps by clicking here.

10. Do not use in-app camera functions.

In most cases, we say don’t use the Instagram camera (unless you’re very careful). If you want to take a great photo and then share it with your followers, simply use your phone’s camera and upload it to Instagram or the other social media sites that you’re using. Why? Because those apps don’t provide you with all the features that your phone provides. You’ll get the worst pictures that your phone can take, and you won’t get the best camera effects, like having more lenses and shooting at night.

If you want to take photos like a pro, you need to take the photos with your phone’s camera, make any necessary edits to the image and then share the result with others.

11. Vertical videos.

This is pretty obvious, but it’s worth learning how to get the best from your phone.
It’s not a photo, but it’s something that is very hot. Vertical photos work really well – even the great masters did their own version of a portrait. But we need to talk about video. Vertical video works only if the person who is watching the video is using their phone, like with Instagram Stories. It doesn’t work on TV because if you are watching something on a lcd or smart TV, it’s not horizontal.

Also, as you consider all the different ways that you can make your photos look amazing, try thinking about making videos too. When you’re shooting a really great video that you want to share with the world, please move your phone to a horizontal position. That way people don’t have to look at blurry edges when we see a great video on the big screen.

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