Modern smartphones are incredibly powerful. And their ubiquity has changed the world: never before has the average person had so much power at their fingertips. One of the most dramatic societal changes smartphones have ushered has been permanently equipping people with a camera. Combined, we take over a trillion photos a year, and this has had a huge effect on everything from politics to fashion.
Because virtually all modern smartphones come equipped with a high-quality camera, anyone with the inclination can learn how to take fantastic looking photographs. The most successful of this new wave of smartphone photographers – such as Murad Osmann – have gone on to make names (and even careers) for themselves on platforms such as Instagram.
So, here’s how to take professional-looking photos with your smartphone.
One of the most fundamental composition principles in photography is the rule of thirds. In short, the principle is about placing the most important parts of your composition off-centre to create a balanced look.
When shooting a photo in line with the rule of thirds, you need to imagine dividing your photo into nine equal parts using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. By placing the most important elements along the grid lines or at the intersections where the lines meet, you will create an image which is immediately eye-catching and “just feels right” to those looking at it.
Though not a steadfast rule – and some great photographs exist which intentionally or unintentionally flout this rule – the rule of thirds is a great place to begin if you want to start taking more appealing photos.
With a smartphone, you can superimpose grid lines over your screen so you can perfect your alignment before you shoot. Just head into your camera settings and switch on grid lines.
iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”
Negative space refers to empty (or practically empty) space within your composition. By using negative space in your photography, you can place greater emphasis on your subject so that they create maximum impact on your audience.
Photos with lots of negative space tend to be minimalist and simple. The idea is to remove clutter so that your audience’s attention will be drawn to your subject. When using negative space, photographers often struggle to create a natural, balanced composition. This is made a little easier if you’re using grid lines – so, again, consider turning those on.
A risky choice, photographs with lots of negative space can make for incredibly compositions. But you may have to practice a little before you get it just right. Still, negative space is certainly something you will want to play around with if you’re looking to improve your photography skills.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode is now an option on most modern smartphones. HDR brings out the detail in the darkest and lightest parts of your photographs, creating a better balance of colours in your compositions. Because HDR mode takes higher-quality pictures, it will take your phone a little longer to process your images – meaning you must hold the camera still for a little longer.
HDR mode is ideal for situations in which there is a large variation between the darkest and lightest parts of your photograph – so it is particularly effective when it comes to landscape and portrait shots. If you’re looking to snap something that’s moving fast – like a moving car, for example – HDR mode is not your best option.
Some smartphones automatically select HDR mode when they sense the conditions are appropriate. However, to ensure you make the most of HDR mode, it’s much better to manually select when you want to use it based on your subject. The HDR mode button is prominent on both Android and iPhone camera apps. Now you know what it does, you can use it effectively.
Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time. But, compared to traditional digital cameras, they are much more susceptible to movement. This means that even a slight jolt or wiggle can end up blurring your image and ruining your shot.
Steadying your shot can be a simple as just being more aware of your hand movements when taking photos. By focusing on staying still, you’re more likely to end up with a clearer photo. However, if this is an area you struggle with, or if you’re serious about taking the best photos you can, you may want to invest in a small tripod.
There are plenty of tripods designed specifically for use with smartphones – and many are incredibly affordable and effective. Still, if you don’t want to go down this route, remember that walls, tables, your mate’s shoulder and even your other arm can act as surfaces you can use to keep your smartphone still.
Smartphone cameras are built to be durable. Most cameras will last for the duration of a phone’s lifetime. But, hardy as they may be, none are immune from smudges and smears. If your phone camera is dirty, cleaning can make all the difference.
Often wiping the lens with a cloth or even the corner of a T-shirt is enough to get rid of blurs and sharpen up your snaps. However, for a more rigorous clean, a variety of products are available specifically for the purpose. These include specially made wipes, pens and oils. If you want to make sure your camera is taking the clearest photos it can, it may be worthwhile investing in one of these.
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