21 basic android mobile photography tips and techniques you must know!
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Index: Smartphone photography tips and tricks Requirements to become mobile photographer Know Android phone camera hardware Android smartphone camera apps Clean camera the lens Use natural light whenever possible Beware of contrast A lot of back lights Avoid using the Flash At night shots or in low light photos use tripod (or find support) The grid is your friend Symmetry as a resource Play with reflections Take advantage of the perspective Move on Be bold Remember: do not focus everything Macro photography: the power of details Patience Vs. Spontaneity Never zoom (if not optical) Selfies can also be creative Photo editors, these great allies Take lots of photos
Smartphone photography tips and tricks
A few years ago we debated whether the compact cameras would end up extinguished by the rise of camera phones and today, although extinction may sound a little strong, we can say that the mobiles effectively won the battle for the casual public. And phones like the Galaxy S7, the Huawei P9 or the Google Pixel surely reaffirm the victory of the mobile over the pocket cameras.
However, despite technological advances, there are still limitations to take into account when shooting photos with our mobile phones such as the absence of optical zoom or low-light performance. In order to achieve the best results, we have developed a guide of essential tips when taking pictures with your Android smartphone.
Requirements to become mobile photographer
Basic element you need to have to be an expert photographer consists four parts: a quality camera, basic ideas of photography, patients and finally creative mind. Camera is the heart of photography and these days everyone has one with their smartphones.
Though most of us aren’t satisfied with smartphone camera and usually ask how to improve camera quality of android phone. Actually you don’t need a high end camera to start your journey of photography, just start it your phone. However, i will share ideas about android smartphone camera tips and introduce various smartphone photography apps to tweak smartphone camera tricks and effects.
Know Android phone camera hardware
The first step to take advantage of a camera is to know it well, whether it is a DSLR or, in this case, one of the mobile. A visit to the manufacturer’s website will give us key facts that are important before you start shooting.
Knowing the resolution is fine but, if we can go further, details such as the size of the sensor or the pixels themselves are as important or more important than the megapixels, and the same thing happens with the aperture of the lens or number ‘F’ (The lower it is, the better) because the more luminous it is, the better it will work under conditions where light is scarce.
The image stabilizer is another key aspect when taking photos in low light and also when recording videos (to minimize tremors). There are two types of stabilizer, digital (EIS) and optical (OIS), generally later more effective than the former. Do your phone have trigger button which allows you to shoot with the volume keys, as it generally allows a more comfortable grip.
Knowing the specifications is a good starting point, but do not forget to know the hardware well, it is best to try it. Experience is always the most effective method in knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the camera.
Know Android smartphone photography apps
If knowing the hardware is a key step, researching and flipping through camera app is just as important. The automatic mode comes in handy for users in such case where cannot set up and change camera settings on android phone. However, there are several manual options that can help a lot to improve camera quality of android phone for taking good photographs and to know them is a key aspect.
Within the smartphone photography apps, you can find all available options such as scene modes or manual mode, increasingly extended even on simple mobiles. If we have sufficient time to prepare the shot, it is interesting to play with several settings such as exposure, ISO or white balance to achieve specific camera tricks and effects. Although yes, if the camera allows you to apply filters directly better avoids them and apply them later with editing software.
It is also important to know and try the HDR mode, a function that will save us more than a photo with great contrast differences, but that does not work very well on all devices. Another essential camera parameter is the resolution settings as there may arise some cases where we may not take maximum advantage offered by your sensor.
As in hardware, the best thing to know thoroughly the software testing and more testing to be comfortable and find those settings that work best.
Clean the lens
Keeping in mind that the mobile is always being handled, the lens becomes easily dirty and must be cleaned as often as possible.
It is best to wear special leather case, but the normal thing is that we do not have one on top. In that case, a soft cotton shirt can serve us, always rubbing carefully not to scratch the lens.
Use natural light whenever possible
Photography is possible thanks to the light, hence this is the most important aspect and that will further determine the result obtained. In addition, as we anticipated at the beginning, one of the weaknesses of cameras in general and those of mobiles in particular, are that they do not perform well in poor lighting conditions.
With this in mind, it is best to work with natural light whenever possible, even if you are not outside. Above image was taken inside a room in the morning and the light that came through the window was abundant but diffuse, creating very soft shadows and providing a harmonious result.
It is not always possible to get natural light, but if you are in an interior try to find the same keys: diffuse abundant light and preferably as shown in the above image.
Beware of contrast
Hard and contrasted illumination like the central hours of the day can be an interesting resource to create sharp contrasts if the camera is able to maintain a relatively equal balance between lights and shadows as seen in the photo above, taken with the Sony Xperia X Compact.
However, it can be a problem if we are using a simple mobile whose camera is not capable of representing a very broad dynamic range. We will notice it especially when there are great contrasts between light and shadow, often causing the lights to appear burned and detail lost in the shadows.
As we said, the HDR mode can be a great ally to save the photo but does not always work miracles and there are cases where the outcome is too artificial. Here the best is what we were saying: try, try and try.
A lot of backlights
Backlights can also be a nice resource in some situations like the one we see on these images. The background appears burnt but the light degrades smoothly and the silhouette effect is very attractive. However, it is necessary to take care of this type of scenes in which the light arrives from the front since the result can be very different.
Here a clear example of a backlight that would have been better avoided since neither with the HDR mode we managed to improve it. What I said, backlights can be an interesting resource, but very carefully utilize it.
Avoid using the Flash
The LED flash that comes integrated into most mobiles produces too harsh light that creates very sharp shadows and will rarely be useful, so avoid using it as much as possible. Use flash whenever you really need it.
The image was taken during the day in an interior room that did not reach too much light. If we enlarge the left image (without flash) to the maximum, we can see the classic noise effect, but it is preferable to shoot with flash. The result speaks for itself.
At night shots or in low light photos using a tripod (or seeking support)
We have already said that the lack of light is one of the weaknesses of our mobile cameras, so if you are going to shoot at night or in difficult conditions (for example at sunset) it is always better to have a robust support.
If you do not have a camera tripod, you should try to lean on something to fix the device so that hand tremors do not spoil the photo, which is what happened in the image on the left. If we have no way to fix the camera you only have to rely on our pulse (advice: holding your breath will usually help).
The grid is your friend
The composition is another key aspect of a good photo and with the grid, it is easier to adjust the scene, for example when taking a photo of a landscape. An inclined horizon can ruin a precious photo, so having a grid is important. Most mobiles have the grid option, navigate between the menus and activate it to make the compositions more stable.
Symmetry as a resource
If the scene that we are going to photograph lends itself, the symmetries always give very good result. But yes, you have to make sure that it is fully balanced since otherwise, we will load the effect. The architecture of the upper image was not easy to frame, but again the grid was very practical.
Here we see another example of a symmetrical scene, in this case with very sharp lines that focus on the vanishing point at the center of the image, another very interesting resource that brings more depth to the scene.
Play with reflections
A resource that is related to symmetry is reflections. If photographed scenes with a large amount of water, we can also play with the reflection that is generated and creates an interesting illusion like one of these images.
Take advantage of the perspective
The frontal planes are fine, but in many cases they are boring. Playing with perspective is a very interesting resource to explore when taking photos with the mobile as they create visual tours within the composition and give a sense of depth.
In the image on the left, you can see clearly how the perspective brings more dynamism to the whole scene, while the image on the right is too flat.
If we analyze all the photos that we make with the mobile, surely the majority shoot them while standing with the mobile at eye level. But if we always shoot the photos from the same point of view it will be difficult to achieve different results.
Something as simple as bending down to the ground can make a pretty classic photo like the one on the left turn into a much more interesting shot. Although, we can always go further.
Changing the height of the viewpoint as we saw in the example above is an option to leave the classic conventional photo, but there are many more possibilities. The chopped planes can also give that cool touch to a photo that would otherwise be too classic, and if we go to a zenith (from above) or nadir (from below) the effect is even more impressing.
Remember: do not focus everything
We talked about that a balanced and symmetrical composition can be a very interesting resource in our mobile photography tips and tricks, but it is not always the best option. Often we tend to place the object or subject photographed in the center of the composition, but there are many cases in which it is more interesting to move that center.
In the series of images above you can see the differences between a traditional frame and rather bland until you get a much more dynamic result. Instead of simply focusing the object, looking for a different frame also gives prominence to the straight lines of the table and that diagonal so marked that creates the shadow.
Here another example in which the subject photographed moves from the center of the image and, nevertheless, a very interesting effect is achieved. The dark, almost black mass on the right also weighs heavily and balances the composition.
Like silences in music, photography, empty space is also part of the composition. So let’s forget to always fill the frame or place everything in the center.
Macro photography: the power of details
Macro photography is an entire photographic category in itself. It consists of capturing very small objects or details and expanding their scale, creating a very sharp effect and, if we get too close, it can be almost abstract.
Not all mobile phones allow us to get so close, but give some flexibility to achieve such effects. The top photo, taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7, features the fractal-like repetition of a plant’s leaves.
One of the characteristics of macro photography is the blur created between the figure and the background. This effect, also known as bokeh, highlights the object in the foreground and brings a more dramatic touch to the entire image.
Patience Vs. Spontaneity
They are two of the most basic keys for the photographer and you have to know when to use each one of them. We need to have the patience, necessary to obtain images like the one on the left, in which I had to wait and try to capture the good moment when a wave broke. Patience is the key to be a good mobile photographer.
However, there are times when, as in the image on the right, we do not have time to prepare ourselves and we can only shoot. If I had prepared it, perhaps the frame would be straighter and would not leave the shirt in the background, but then would have missed the moment of yawning cat.
Never zoom (if not optical)
Most important smartphone photography tips and trick is avoiding zoom in while taking a picture. Like the flash, zooming with a mobile phone usually spoils the picture in the vast majority of cases. Unless your mobile has optical zoom, which is not the usual, you need to avoid enlarging the photo before you shoot, as it will only lose image quality.
In case the device has a quite wide resolution, such as the Xperia X Compact 23 megapixels, it is better to shoot the regular photo and crop a detail with some editing application.
Selfies can also be creative
Selfie fever spreads worldwide and everybody ask how to take better selfies which is difficult to do. Because, when we do selfies we have a little more complication when it is framed since we can only take selfies while extends our arm, but there are always options to play with the angle from which we shoot.
Most important selfie photography tips is choosing a more or less homogeneous background and making a different gesture may be another possibility for a selfie not to look like the typical selfie. And remember, you can always edit after shooting, which brings us to the next point.
However, various smartphone photography accessories like selfie-stick already arrived in the market to overcome this problem which is very handy too.
Photo editors, smartphone photography apps
We have talked about getting balanced compositions in our smartphone photography tips, but sometimes, because of the haste or we do not look too much, the image comes out crooked as we see in the photo on the left, but it is nothing that we can not fix with an editing application.
The range of applications for photo editing is huge and, in addition to touching the color or exposure, they also allow us to adjust the frame to achieve a more balanced and stable composition.
Filters are also a widely used resource in photo editing, but here you have to be very careful because they can end up spoiling the image or create overstretched effects. It is better to edit the image manually to choose the values ourselves and not leave areas burned or too saturated.
If you want to know more about mobile photography apps to edit your photos, do not miss our analysis of the best photo editors for Android.
Take lots of photos
Rarely, we get the perfect shot at first, so it’s best to be patient and explore different options. Then we can entertain ourselves in reviewing all the shots until finding the best one.
There’s a say that Rome was not built in a day and, to make a good photo, we no longer need days, yes it is important to shoot and shoot until achieving the desired result.
Here are our smartphone photography tips with Android, but certainly you can contribute much more. What tricks do you use to make good photographs?
In MsnTechBlog | Eleven tips for editing photos on Android.