You do not need a big and expensive DSLR camera to take good photographs.
Yes, the quality gets better and you get more possibilities with a DSLR than you get with your smartphone’s camera, but I promise you that it’s possible to take amazing photos with your smartphone! I often say that the best camera is the one you have with you, and in today’s society pretty much everyone walks around with a smartphone with a camera in their back pocket and in this post I thought I’ll give some tips on how to use it.
📷 Find exciting compositions
Since the camera in smartphones is usually pretty simple you’re pretty limited to what you can do and can not do with it – and that does not have to be anything negative. You can not photograph with a super-fast shutter speed in darkness and if you have a five-year-old phone like me, photograph portraits with blurry backgrounds. You simply have to embrace those limitations and focus on finding interesting compositions instead.
The composition is one of the most important components when it comes to photography and is always something you should think about – no matter what type of camera you use.
Tips on elements that can create an interesting composition:
⦁ Use the “Golden Section” or “Rules of Thirds”, which means placing your subject in the corner of a nine-square grid instead of in the middle
⦁ Find leading lines and build your composition around those, causing the eye to “walk” through the image
⦁ Work with contrast, for example between light and dark or with colors opposite each other in the color circle
⦁ Create balance in the image using symmetry or asymmetry
📷 Don’t zoom!
Smartphone cameras do not have an optic zoom which basically means that the camera does not really zoom but only crops the image and retains the same size = poor image quality. If you need to get closer to the thing you’re photographing it’s better to either physically approach it or crop the image yourself afterward.
📷 Capture those great skies
Ever tried photographing a beautiful sunset sky and ended up with a white photo? That means that your photo got overexposed and when you’re photographing the sky you want to underexpose the photo.
To do that, focus on the brightest parts of the image by simply clicking on it with your finger. This causes the image to be underexposed but the brightest parts do not get too bright and therefore do not lose too much image information. It’s also possible to choose the exposure manually by moving the little sun next to the focus square on an iPhone, I’m not sure if Android phones offer the same thing. If the dark parts get too dark, you can lighten them up in an editing program afterward.
It’s always easier to save an underexposed photo than an overexposed photo.
📷 Photograph in backlight, is that possible?
It’s much harder to get a nice backlit image with your phone than with a DSLR, but it’s fully possible! The first thing to consider is to try to hide the sun in the image, either right outside the image composition or hide it behind something like a tree, building or a person. The second thing you want to do is underexpose your photo which you can do manually if you look at the tip above.
After underexposing your backlit photo, you can “save” it by brightening the dark parts of the photo in an editing program.
📷 Photo editing in your phone
There are thousands and thousands of photo editing apps and I have pretty much only stuck with two during all my smartphone years. I used the app Afterligt for many years since it offers all the basic settings like color temperature, contrast, and sharpness, but during the last couple of months, I’ve started to use the app Lightroom a lot more since it also offers Selective Color which is pretty much my favorite editing tool. Lightroom is Adobes own editing app and since I’ve used Adobe Photoshop to edit photos on my computer longer than I can remember it only makes sense to use their program on my phone as well.
Both Afterlight and Lightroom are free to download, but it costs extra if you want the premium version and unlocks all the tools. I have the basic and free versions and think they work fine!