Smartphone photography: Here's six tips for snapping great pics
Thanks to the modern age, snapping a photograph has never been so easy or effortless.
That's because everyone has a powerful camera in their pocket: a smartphone. But some say it is putting nails in the coffin for beautiful photography. It doesn't have to be that way though. With a little practice and a smidge of effort, even you - yes, you - can start capturing great photos using your smartphone.
Photo-sharing site 1,000 Memories has estimated that in a matter of only 2 minutes we capture the same amount of photos as all of humanity took during the entire 1800s. One cannot help but wonder how many of these photos are poorly-lit selfies or filter-heavy food shots. Thus, in an effort to curb the way you do smartphone photography, Pocket-lint has rounded up six tips.
Although some of the tips might seem obvious, we guaruntee that following all of them will result in amazing photographs every time. Keep in mind we're skipping the usual photography tips such as key lighting and framing and angles. These are smartphone-specific. Enjoy and have at it.
Ew, portrait orientation?
Nothing ruins a great shot like having two black vertical bars along both sides of your final image. Make sure to use landscape orientation when taking photographs and not portrait.
Not only does landscape make your photo seem more aesthetically pleasing in general, it'll also make it more enjoyable to look at when viewed on a widescreen or television.
Plus, you'll capture more in the actual image. So just remember: never hold your phone vertically, unless you really like or want those vertical black bars included.
Ditch the flash.
We've all seen those images where the subject has yellow skin and red devilish eyes combined with motion blur and super dark backgrounds. The culprit? Well, yes, it's the photographer...but it's also the flash.
Smartphones, you see, come equipped with LED lights that are too bright and can easily skew the color temperature of photos. Also, the flash duration is usually too long, so images captured with the flash tend to come out blurry and still poorly lit in the end.
If you want to take a photo at night, you'll have to find another light source. You can even get creative with certain lights such as a neon sign or juke box. They add a little bit of needed glow and jazz up your photo with colour.
Please don't zoom!
Nothing is more gross than digital zoom - just ask any professional photographer. Most smartphones unfortuantely feature digital zooms, which are just software tricks that'll make your subject appear closer but not without copious amounts of pixelation.
In order to zoom in without losing crisp, vivid photo quality, you'll have to manually crop or simply get closer to your subject. And, really, getting closer is a whole sub-tip worth explaining.
You never want 500 feet of space around a person's head, for instance, if you're trying to take a portrait. So again, get as close as you can. Let us see those freckles and fine lines and cheek fuzz.
This tip is a matter of opinion. But many professional photographers will balk at the thought of applying a Sienna filter or fake depth-of-field blur to their carefully constructed photos. We're not hating on Instagram; we're just being honest.
If you want unique photos that are creative but not washed out, seriously consider full-on image editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. You will be able to play with adjustments like contrast, sharpness, and even colour temperature.
But some photographers even view editing software as cheating. In that case, you'll need to practice a lot in order to figure out exactly what kind of photos you want to take and what kind of natural effects you like most.
Take a photo right before sunset, for instance, to get fiery oranges and reds into your shot. If you wait until the sun goes down a bit you will get blues and maybe some purple. Cloudy days also result in flattering, cool light and soft silhouettes.
If you want to take your smartphone photography skills to the next level, you might want to consider buying accessories to reveal your camera’s true potential. You can get everything from tripod mounting systems to creative lens add-ons.
A website called Photojojo sells a tonne of different accessories at a variety of different price points. You could get a bike mount for your Android phone, for instance, or a telephoto lens for your iPhone. The possibilities are endless (and addicting).
App, app, app it up
And finally, let's be honest: smartphone cameras are not yet as good as the powerhouses made by Canon or Nikon.
That's because stock camera apps lack fine controls. Although some Android phones offer plenty of options these days, the iPhone has a very basic camera app. Apple's iOS 8 is expected to change all that, but in the meantime, you need an alternative solution.
Explore camera apps that tap into your device's camera and provide you with more tools. Camera Awesome, for instance, allows you to shoot in bursts and even separates the AF lock from the exposure lock. It's also free. The Camera+ app is good too.
Let us know in the comments if you can think of any other app or tip suggestion we absolutely must include in this round-up.