5 Tips to take great pictures with your phone

8:47 AM

A fair amount of the picture you saw on this blog have been taken either with my iPad, or my phone. I only use the SLR when the light is low or I need a very detailed picture (typically my food pictures). And, I rarely use my point and shoot camera these days.

There seem to be that misconception that phone cameras will by default give you substandard quality pictures. That it is the type of camera that only comes handy in a pinch. The type of camera that only serves to post silly pictures on social medias.
Thanks to these clichés, a lot of people probably feel like taking picture for your own blog is out of their reach entirely. I already told you about free stock pictures you can use, and free Apps and softwares to edit your pictures.

Now, I am going to share a few tips to take good pictures with your phone.

Know your phone
Not all smartphones out there have been created equal, some have more sensitive cameras, some offer built in camera features other don't. So before you decide that the camera on your phone is crappy, get familiar with it. You'll get to know its strong points, and where it's weaknesses lie. Experiment with it. This is the beauty of digital pictures, you can delete them if they suck and it doesn't cost you a thing to take a bad picture anymore (those that knew film rolls and developing costs will know what I am talking about).
On iOS, you can download a better camera app than the one coming by default, it will allow you more control and option while taking the picture. I never checked with Android, but my HTC phones always came with in built features.
Both my phone and my iPad also let me refocus, brighten or darken a picture before taking it. This is a nifty little feature a lot of phone camera apps have that people overlook. Tap an area on the screen to tell your camera to focus on, and it will automatically adjust the overall light and focus around that specific point. Again tap around a few times to experiment and find the best light quality your camera can take at that specific time. Then, and only then take your picture.

Don't use the zoom.
The zoom on phone cameras usually SUCK. There said it. It makes the picture blurry, reduce the pixel quality, and you are just really better off without. You can always edit a picture later and get a much better result zooming and cropping in the photo editing app.

Favour close ups
The strong points of all phone cameras is that they are great at capturing close up details. They still will do fine capturing landscapes but this is not where they will really give you their best performances. Their lens is too small for that. After all, people tend to use their phone to capture candid moments, their loved ones, pets, food or even themselves.

Wipe your lens
Your phone probably reside in your back pocket or the bottom of your purse. That enough will ensure a lot of dust and grime will stick to the camera lens. Your fingers are likely to be all over the camera when you are making a phone call. And, a dirty lens will take a bad picture. Remember to wipe your camera lens regularly with a lens cleaner and a soft cloth. Which you already have around since it is the same product you use to wipe your touch screen clean. Before you take a picture, check if the lens is clean, and quickly wipe it if needed.

Edit your pictures.
I went over this in a previous blog post. Photo editing is a must for all pictures nowaday. Some will of course require less editing than others, but all will benefit from it.
There are plenty of free softwares and app to do it (I shared the link at the beginning of this post) and most are pretty easy to use. While filters are great, I use them only when I really want to make a soecial statement. Most of the time, I use the good old classic : brightness, contrast, clarity and saturation tools. It gives you a more unique and tailored result.
Also, do not hesitate to crop pictures, especially if you snapped a subject from afar. The cropping will bring what you wanted to be the focal point of the picture back in focus.

The photographer matters.
Phone cameras come pretty close to basic point and shoot cameras nowadays. The pictures taken even do great on prints. So do not let people tell you that taking pictures with your phone is dumb and going to be low quality. And remember, even a SLR will take a horrible picture if the person doesn't know how to use it.nthe quality of a picture depends greatly on who is behind the camera.

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  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Thank you for mentioning wiping the lens! I can't stress enough how much of a difference that makes.
    I will add that natural light is very important, that is when phone camera is going to perform the best.
    As much as using zoom I hate the flash option in phones too. But that might be my phone...

    1. I hate the flash too, but not just on a phone, I am not fond of it in general, my SLR included. I feel it kills the mood of a picture. The ones on phone are usually the worst though, they stay lit much too long for anything remotely natural to happen in the picture.

    2. Anonymous11:14 AM

      I have come to know from one of the the blogs that Beatrix is safe in Nepal. Apparently, the place where she lives has not been affected that much. Thank god.

      About camera phones they are very good for close up photography. They mange to capture landscape as well but you cannot hope to include too much in the picture. I often fail to judge the distance and end up with long shots. Some times I find that flash actually reflects and creates a a blurry picture especially when you are taking pics of shiny objects which emit light of their own. The best part about phone cameras is that you can put your pictures on the facebook immediately on the move.


    3. Thanks heaven she is safe!
      Thanks for the update, I saw a visitor from Nepal in my Google Analytics report yesterday so I thought it would be her. I am glad to hear her area hasn't been affected too much.

      The sharing pictures directly on FB or other social media is one of the thing I love the most about phones, it makes sharing pictures with my family in Switzerland so much easier than it was.
      I found out the same thing about the flash, I think it is because unlike flash on other cameras, the phone flash stays lit way too long and creates all kind of weird light effects on picutres.

  2. Namaste y'all!
    My family & I are safe, we live in the Pokhara valley which was relatively unscathed. Only 2 fatalities in our district of 300,000 & only a few houses with minor damage.
    Happy to report the Indian Air Force & Army are doing an incredible job with 2 cargo jets bringing supplies from Kathmandu & 8 helicopters going up the remote villages!
    I'm volunteering at a local teaching hospital & thankfully there haven't been many severely injured people being brought down from remote areas either.
    My husband, the boys & 2 physicians from the teaching hosp. went up to Gorkha yesterday & Lamjung before that with truckloads of drinking water, blankets, foodstuffs, & medicine. They said they saw only 4 houses badly damaged & few injured (odd,because the epicenter of the quake was 1st said to be in Lamjung district, now they are saying Gorkha).
    The photos you are seeing on BBC & CNN with completely collapsed buildings & many dead & injured are from the Bagmati zone in the Kathmandu valley (Durbar square, Bhaktapur, Thamel, Sindhupalchok, Chautara,) & of course the Everest region.
    I was able to access the internet by my new smartphone the entire time. My Google GPS app alerted me the day after the quake that I was in an area that had suffered a major disaster (HAH!).
    The only things I would add to your post-
    Take LOTS of pics. What appears in the viewfinder isn't always a 'good' or 'bad' pic. The more pics you take the better the odds you're going to get that 'perfect pic' or an unexpected gem. Just delete the bad ones later- that's what professional photographers do.
    My SamsungGKZoom takes great long distance pics & has the 'panorama' feature.
    BUT I find you really need a tripod or to lean on something steady to avoid blurry photos jiggling for the extra focus time it takes with the zoom or panorama features. I'm sure there's a tripod made for camera phones out there, I just haven't found it yet.

    1. It's so good hearing from you. I have been thinking about you since the quake, which I learned of from friends on Facebook, one of which lives in lUcknow and felt the tremors. Apparently some people felt it in Mumbai as well, but not in every area in the city. I haven't felt a thing at all.
      Glad to hear you guys are safe and hoping Nepal gets back on its feet quickly.

      Good point about taking a lot of pictures, and the beauty of digital cameras is that you can indeed delete all the bad ones quickly.
      I have seen a tripod for iPads somewhere, so I am sure there must be one for phones as well. After all there is a thing called a selfie stick which u til very recently I had never heard of.

    2. Anonymous6:47 PM


      Glad to hear from you. I got to learn from Christine's delhi blog that you are safe. The tremors have been felt all over India even by Lauren in Nagpur. It is good that you are there to help people out with injuries. Take care.


  3. I love these tips! I keep forgetting to tap on my phone to change the focus and light. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. This is the thing that is the most easily forgotten, yet it makes pictures taken on phones so much clearer.

  4. This is a really informative and helpful post. I appreciate your advice.


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