The age of the standalone camera is not quite over, but is definitely on the decline. Where once we needed to carry around a separate piece of equipment in order to snap memories and save them for posterity, nowadays, we all carry a camera with us on our smartphones. While standalone digital cameras and DSLRs have their place, for most of us, an iPhone or Android camera is more than sufficient for our photography needs.
Modern phone cameras are hugely powerful and are capable of producing truly outstanding quality, but a few tips to really boost your photographs will allow you to harness the power of the technology and produce even better images to wow your friends and family with. Here are four tips that you may want to keep in mind the next time you grab your iPhone to take a photo…
#1 – Steady your hand
The simplest way to take a clear, crisp photograph is to steady the device taking the picture as much as possible – that’s why tripods have become the norm for professional photographers. In comparison to a tripod, the human hand is rather shaky, and this can impact the clarity of the pictures you take with your phone. One way of overcoming this is to look for a dedicated tripod or similar device, but this does mean you will have an extra item to carry when you’re out and about – which isn’t always practical.
So how can you achieve greater steadiness without having to use an additional piece of kit? There’s a few options. First, see if you can steady your hand or your elbow on another surface – a table, a car roof, even the floor will suffice. If there’s nothing suitable, then your best choice is your other hand: hold the wrist of your photo-taking hand to provide extra support and – hopefully – a much clearer image. If you find that this makes it harder to snap the photo, then experiment with using voice commands to trigger your phone camera.
#2 – Let there be light
It would perhaps be a stretch to say that lighting is everything to photography… but it’s fairly close. Even perfectly-composed, fascinating shots with perfect clarity will suffer in problematic lighting conditions, so it’s always helpful to consider the lighting options before taking a photo.
One way to ensure decent lighting is to literally purchase a light for your camera, which should clip on relatively unobtrusively – ring lights are particularly popular for this purpose. However, you can improve lighting even without adding new kit to your “camera”. Here are a few tips:
*If you are taking photos indoors, always turn as many lights on as possible. It’s easier to colour correct the resulting orange/yellow tones in editing (which we discuss in depth in point #4) than to alter an image to brighten it.
*Ask friends and family to use the flashlight on their own phones to light the object, person, or scene you want to photograph
*For outside photography, cloudy days will – somewhat surprisingly – be kinder than bright, sunny days; sunlight can wash an image out, whereas clouds provide perfect diffused light. If you want to take photos of an outdoor scene – such as your garden – and there’s no time pressure, wait for a cloudy day for the best results.
*The best lighting for selfies can often be found in the front seat of a car, as there’s a lot of light available, but it’s indirect thanks to the roof and windows.
#3 – Take multiple photographs
For the most part, iPhone and Android phone cameras are very easy to use; you select the camera, point in the direction of the item or person you want to photograph, click the shutter, and complete. However, phones also offer a range of capabilities that can improve the entire photography and related task process; you can learn how to transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone for easier sharing, take shots in HDR while also preserving the original, and on a particularly useful note for photo quality, you can take multiple photographs at once using Burst mode.
Burst mode takes a number of photos in rapid succession, which allows you to capture a sense of motion in your images – which in turn provides an outstanding, artistic dynamism to the finished result. A cat yawning, a person jumping, a bird fluttering on a bird feeder – all of these images are incredibly tough to capture with a single-shot image, but with Burst mode, your chances of a great image are hugely improved. You can also use Burst mode to help reduce issues such as people moving or blinking when you’re a photo, and it’s especially useful if you’re photographing a subject – such as a pet – who cannot ‘freeze’ to allow a good photo to be taken.
#4 – Spend a little time perfecting your editing
It may technically be possible to take a photo and have it be instantly perfect but, realistically, that’s not going to happen very often. For great results, editing will always be required – though it’s important to emphasise that a light touch is always preferable, making small corrections to imperfections rather than fundamentally changing the image.
There is a huge number of apps and software platforms available to edit photographs, ranging from the free and simple to the complex and professional-level. Whichever you choose to use, there are a few changes that all images you take will likely benefit from, so learning to do the following should be highly advantageous to your images in the future:
*Brightening is the simplest edit, but easily the most effective – there are very few images that don’t look immediately better with the brightness turned up a few notches, including those that were taken in perfect lighting conditions.
*Cropping images can help to eliminate unnecessary detail and ensure the subject you were photographing is the main focus.
*Color correction, particularly removing orange or yellow tones that are prevalent in images taken in artificial lighting or at night.
*Contrast altering; heightening the contrast can really give an image an added dimension, while reducing it can greatly improve an image that is too bright or washed out
*Sharpening is a great way of restoring definition, which is often necessary after performing one or more of the edits above
We hope the above tips will assist you in taking outstanding photos with your smartphone that you can treasure for many years to come!