Have you ever looked at stunning pictures captured by a smartphone camera and wondered what you were doing wrong? While some people manage to take gorgeous pictures with their phone, yours may come out less than impressive. Well, the good news for you is that your phone isn’t necessarily to blame.
Rather, it is simply that you are not using the camera that you have the right way. In this article, you will discover just what mistakes you might be making and how to correct them. So, here are some points to pay attention to.
- 1 Not Upgrading to a Better App
- 2 Ignoring Your Camera Features
- 3 Sticking With Your Automatic Settings
- 4 Overusing Your Zoom Feature
- 5 Relying On Your Flash
- 6 Using Post-Processing Methods to Get Rid of Light Discrepancies
- 7 Avoiding the Rule of Thirds
- 8 Remaining in Regular Mode for Landscape Pictures
- 9 Using Your Hands to Steady the Phone
- 10 Forgetting to Clean the Lens
- 11 Taking Just One Picture
Not Upgrading to a Better App
It is easy to look at your smartphone and assume that the issue is the camera. This is because most people have been programmed to believe that you need to get a top-of-the-line device if you want the best camera. Well, while very expensive phones do have a leg up on the competition here, it isn’t true for every case.
In many instances, you will find that your camera is just as good as anyone else’s. What may not be up to standard, however, is your camera app. The main purpose of these apps is to provide you with better control over your camera. This makes it easier to manipulate the settings and to get better results as well.
Ignoring Your Camera Features
Of course, upgrading to a more useful app will not help if you aren’t aware of what each feature does. Far too many smartphone users rely on just a small percentage of the options available with their device. In fact, most people are content with the Flash and Zoom function but there’ll be more on this later.
So, once you have downloaded a suitable app, go ahead and check each feature out. This will give you hands-on experience regarding what effect each element will have. This will make it a lot easier for you to get the final result that you want.
Sticking With Your Automatic Settings
Before you go ahead and download an app, check the settings on the built-in app. Are they all set to Auto function? If you haven’t really played around with the camera settings too much, there is a good chance that all of them still use automatic settings. Well, this could be the main reason your pictures are turning out lackluster.
See, your camera settings need to be suitable for the environment that you are shooting in. Automatic settings don’t really adjust to the situation. However, manual settings allow you to make changes to the ISO, exposure, white balance, and more. Therefore, you can ensure that the camera is able to adapt to the situation and to capture the best possible image.
Overusing Your Zoom Feature
Most people tend to be rather overenthusiastic about using the zoom feature when taking pictures. After all, it is an excellent way to get a close up without needing to move at all. Well, what many don’t realize, though is that smartphone cameras rely on what is known as ‘digital zoom’. That is to say, it simply magnifies the image on your screen rather than actually honing the lens in on your subject.
The consequence of this is that your images are more likely to get distorted. This is because only the pixels are being expanded and blurred. So, whenever possible, try to stay away from the zoom function. Instead, try to get as close as possible to your subject and get a clearer shot.
Relying On Your Flash
If you are like most amateur photographers, you probably reach for the flash settings when taking a picture in dim lighting. Well, this is something that you should stop immediately. Understand, the flash doesn’t really light up an image as well as it should. Rather, it just puts you at risk of capturing red eyes and washed out pictures.
There are some alternatives that you can rely on, though. Does your phone have a Night Mode or something like this? If so, you may discover that this provides you with better-lit images. For the best results, though, you should light up the area around your subject with artificial or natural lighting. It is the only real way to ensure that you end up with a nice photo.
Using Post-Processing Methods to Get Rid of Light Discrepancies
It can be rather tricky to get the lighting just right. This is especially true when you are taking pictures outdoors. As a result, certain sections of your images may appear overly bright while others are thrown in the darkness. The good news for you is that most modern smartphones have a feature to help get rid of this.
These days, many of the newer Android phones are equipped with HDR – also known as high dynamic range. In short, this function takes several pictures at once, each with different exposures. Then, this is combined together to create one perfectly lit picture. So, if you find that the lighting is messing with your pictures, this is a good trick to use.
Avoiding the Rule of Thirds
Virtually every picture that you take has a subject. However, when you look at your images, the focus of your photo may not be that obvious. Well, this is probably due to the fact that you aren’t aligning them the right way. Don’t worry – this can easily be sorted out. Go through the settings on your camera phone and you will come across one labelled “Grid” or something similar. Activate it and look at your screen now.
You will see that a grid is placed over the image you want to capture. This will make it a lot easier for you to determine how to focus the camera. For more candid images, keep the subject slightly off-center. If you want to make a more bold statement, though keep the subject front and center.
Remaining in Regular Mode for Landscape Pictures
If you want to take pictures of a beautiful landscape, then turning your phone into a horizontal position isn’t enough. Relying on this method alone will cause the main features of the picture to crowd together. Not to mention, you won’t be able to capture nearly as much of the landscape as you would like.
A simple solution to this would be the panorama mode on your phone. With this feature, you can pan across the horizon of the image you want to capture. As you are doing so, the camera will take several pictures and essentially “sew” them together. This means that a larger space can be captured.
Using Your Hands to Steady the Phone
Even if you have hands as steady as a surgeon’s, you are going to find it quite difficult to keep your phone perfectly still. Therefore, it is quite likely that your image will not be as sharp, straight, or as smooth as it can be. This is why it is a good idea to invest in a tripod.
Now, you don’t need one of those large, lanky devices. A smaller tripod that can be set up on a high surface will work just fine. Remember, the whole point of a tripod is that it will hold the camera in place, without any wobble at all. Therefore, the camera will be able to capture much sharper images.
Forgetting to Clean the Lens
Be honest, when was the last time you cleaned the lens on your phone? The answer is most likely: never. While you are certainly not alone in this, a dirty lens could be contributing to your poor images. The virtually undetectable smudged fingerprints on the lens, for instance, could be the reason that your pictures aren’t coming out sharp and crystal clear.
Your best cleaning method would be to use a microfiber cloth that is specially designed for smartphones. This will allow you to remove dirt from the lens without doing any additional damage. If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, then a soft, old T-shirt should be a suitable substitute.
Taking Just One Picture
Even expert photographers will always take more than one picture. In fact, the more pictures you take, the better the chances of them turning out just the way that you want. See, a greater number of pictures increases your odds of getting that perfect shot. So, once you have captured your images, go through them.
You will often find that your first picture isn’t all that great. However, the third or last may be just what you are looking for. Thus, you should get into the habit of snapping multiple pictures, especially when you are trying to capture something truly momentous.
It is important to keep in mind that you are most likely going to have to edit your picture in some way or another. This is true even for professional photographers. At the end of the day, the only real way to get something perfect is to edit the small mistakes out.
As you can see, there are quite a few things you have to master before you can take truly amazing pictures with your smartphone camera. The good news is that you now know exactly what needs to be done to get such images.
Max is a seasoned documentary photographer who has used various photography devices on his travels. His work has been published worldwide and he continues to make his mark in the industry. These days, he also runs an image restoration company InstaRestoration where he works to digitally correct and enhance all types of photographs.