Become a master photographer
Smartphones have created a new generation of budding photographers. With increasingly powerful camera tech in your back pocket and clever ways of instantly sharing pics through Instagram, it’s easy to see why.
Smartphones have overtaken traditional digital cameras with 60% of people most-often using their phone to take a snap, according to Ofcom research.
Be a better smartphone photographer with these top tips…
Ditch the on-screen shutter button
When you’re snapping a photo on your smartphone you have to press the screen. But when you’re using a digital camera you get a proper shutter button to push.
You can generally get better results with a proper button that sticks out from the top of your camera than you would by pressing onto the touchscreen of a smartphone. Why? Because you’re pressing the screen, it’s difficult to be precise with how hard you’re pushing and where.
You also end up holding your phone a bit skewwhiff – rather than having your finger along the top of the camera it has to touch your actual screen. Camera-shake, the scourge of photographers everywhere, is harder to avoid too.
Set up your phone camera so that one of the physical buttons on the handset is used as the shutter – say, the power button or the volume button.
Many phones have this key switched on as a default. If yours doesn’t, look through the camera settings menu. Or you can often download a third-party app.
Forget about digital zoom
There are two types of zoom in photography – digital and optical. Optical zoom is good, digital zoom not so much.
Optical zoom is also known as ‘proper’ zoom. It’s where the lens actually moves closer to the subject by extending out from the camera – think of a digital camera with a lens that moves in and out. Digital zoom on the other hand is a bit different. The camera lens doesn’t move at all. So how does it create an effect of making the picture bigger?
Here’s the science bit. It works by taking a crop of the image and enlarging it. So what’s the problem? Well, as the crop is enlarged the pixels are stretched – meaning picture quality takes a hit.
The upshot? Don’t use digital zoom. If you want better photos, try stepping closer to your subject instead.
Get great pictures with the basics of composition
Want to create photos that’ll leave your friends in awe of your photography skills? You could do far worse than learning the basics of composition –the way people and objects are arranged in a photo.
The rule of thirds is a photography term that breaks up the frame into different boxes with lines going horizontal and vertical like a game of noughts and crosses.
The idea is the point of interest in the photo (the person or animal or landmark) should be positioned along the lines.
Sound complicated? There are many apps out there to help you learn the rule of thirds, such as Camera Zoom FX.
Take a crash course in camera settings
If you aspire to become what they call a ‘proper’ photographer then you’ll eventually want to go beyond point and click. Automatic mode is fab – pictures look great and are easy to take. But serious photographers mix it up with automatic and manual settings when taking photos.
With manual settings you can change the mood and look of a photo by adjusting, for example, exposure to change how light is used to create the picture. Features like exposure and ISO can be adjusted on many Android smartphone cameras – it’s worth exploring if you want more control and flexibility over your smartphone photography.
It’s much better to adjust exposure and ISO when shooting in low light than it is to use your smartphone camera’s flash.
Correct annoying imperfections in your photos
Your pictures are looking good. You’ve got the basics of composition and are even exploring more advanced features like exposure. But even though you’re starting to know your onions, you can still end up with imperfect pics – whether that’s blemishes, washed out colours or odd crops. Before you press ‘delete’ give them the Snapseed treatment.
With this app your phone becomes a pocket-sized editing suite. Use it to repair blemishes, create different crops, and adjust brightness and contrast.
Any changes you make are saved in individual layers or stacks, giving you more control over your edits. And it’s designed for touchscreens, with clever gesture controls to use the different features.
Sort your snaps with Google Photos
If you fancy yourself as a serious smartphone photographer you’re going to be snapping plenty of shots. There will be good shots, bad shots and somewhere in-between shots. They’ll all have one thing in common though – they’ll take up space on your smartphone.
Tasks don’t come much more boring than going through your stacks of photos deciding which to keep and which to delete. Get the Google Photos app and your photos are backed up securely to Google so you can free up valuable space on your handset.
You can view and organise your photos from your laptop or tablet too with Google Photos synced across your devices. Make basic edits too, such as cropping and adding filters, while sharing your albums with friends is easy.