Smartphone photography is at a rise now. Companies have started to bring in some great innovations in camera department and its getting better. Few days ago, we wrote about the new trend of dual lenses in smartphones. Everyone loves clicking with their phones now; and sometimes its nice to understand the little nuances of photography. In this article, let us look at few smartphone photography tips that can help you transform your normal looking pictures great.
1. Know your camera settings:
Test your camera on your phone in various conditions. Do not just reply on Auto Modes. These days, most of the smartphones come with a variety of modes to help you shoot pictures in different scenes. Some of them do come with Manual Mode as well. This will help you control Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO thereby altering the entire exposure of the image.
HDR mode, like the name says, High Dynamic Range gives you great punchy colours on your picture.HDR Mode takes two or more pictures of varying exposures almost simultaneously, then combines the best and brightest bits of both into one photo. You need to keep the camera super-steady, otherwise, your photo will come out blurred.
Composition is how you arrange your subjects in your frame. How visual appealing it gets is left to you on how you frame it. For example, while clicking portraits, Placing your subject in the centre of your frame can get a little boring after a while. Remember, the old school passport photos. it isn’t all that impressive. Make use of Law of Thirds. Imagine your frame is divided into a 3×3 grid, and place your subject along one of the resulting gridlines or where two gridlines intersect.
Use Space better. When you surround your subject with empty space, it simplifies your frame. Further, there are fewer things to distract from your subject, so that subject really pops to the viewer. Also, empty spaces creates curiosity in the picture.
Check your corners of the frame while you click. Ensure there is any distracting elements or things that is getting chopped off. I also like using leading lines to the end of the frame. That way, it gives the feel that the picture is a part of a scene.
While shooting landscapes, try to take photos with people in it. That adds life to a picture. It also gives you a sense of scale.
Understand where you plan to put up the pictures you click and then shoot accordingly. For example, If I am going to upload on Facebook, I would rather shoot in Landscape Mode.
Get to the level of the person or a scene. For example, while you shoot kids or pets, going on the floor and clicking them at the eye level would give you much better perspectives and pictures.
3. Metering the Picture:
Remember, in some cameras when you tap to focus it also exposes your images and calculates the right exposure for the image. You could tap and hold so that, the focus gets locked. You can then alter the exposure to adjust the right brightness and highlights for your images. For eg: If you are going to click a portrait at a beach (backlit scene), you will want to tap on the person to expose him right to the camera. Most of the times, the cameras look at brighter areas in the frame and adjust accordingly.
4. Understanding the Light Source:
The right amount of lighting can make pictures more expressive and environments more welcoming. As much as possible, try to take your photos under natural lighting. You can do this by going near windows or doors when taking photos indoors, moving yourself close to the candle on the table at a restaurent, and to sources of light like street lamps when shooting outdoors. While clicking portraits, using the light on the sides can capture depth giving a very candid feel to the pictures. 9 out of 10 times, I avoid using flash lights from the camera. They are too flat and spoil the depth of the image.
While shooting low-light, ensure that your cameras are stable. Either you hold it tight, or use a make-shift tripod. If you have option for manual control on your camera, increase the ISO so that, the camera can get more sensitive to light. Remember, more the ISO, the higher the amount of noise on the picture. However, you can always post-process to get rid of the noise to a certain extent. You would’ve got the shot nonetheless. Also, as mentioned above, Go close to the light source. Avoid back light when taking pictures of people unless you want to try the silhouette effect. If you shoot your subject using side light, it can capture texture and depth.
5. Avoid digital Zoom:
Most of the smartphones do not have an optical zoom, so when you zoom in while taking a picture, you are actually cropping in and that will definitely affect the quality. So, if you can, walk up few steps close to your subject and then click.
6. Watch your highlights and shadows:
The sensor on the smartphones have improved to a great extent. Although, they do not have a great dynamic range when compared to that of a DSLR, they do the job pretty well in good lighting conditions. Further, The graph gives you some great insights on how your picture is exposed. Using the Torch to fill in light at the dark areas which are caused by shadows.
7. Shooting the right Monochromes:
Monochromes – Black and White Pictures as referred commonly is a favourite for many people. look for scenes that contain some strong blacks and whites. The best black and white photos usually have some portion of the photo that is near to pure white, and some portion of the photo that is near black. This increased contrast adds interest to the scene.
Long exposures (slower shutter speed) work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. Pay attention to lines, shadows, and shapes in your frame. They add magic to your monochromes. While shooting portraits, ensure you focus on the eyes and with a tad sharp contrast, the picture would speak!
Smartphones have greater processing algorithms as well. I am using the Huawei P9 which has some great attention to details to Monochromes. Check out some of the samples below.
Oh yes, did I forget one important thing. Keep your lenses clean. Your pocket isn’t cleanest of the places your phone lives. So before you shoot, just wipe off some of the dust from the lens. I love seeing my pictures in prints. As much as you want to support going green, it feels great when you see your pictures in print.
Just because you can take a shot with your phone doesn’t mean you should. Understand the norms if you are shooting on streets, do not flash lights at a theatre performing arts etc. Your pictures should showcase the moment you’re living in. So first live the moment and then shoot pics. Happy Clicking!