As the cameras in mainstream smartphones have evolved, millions of people have discovered the satisfaction of capturing a great photograph.
These range from spontaneous events to mementoes of happy occasions, and from nature or wildlife-based photography to breakfast photos and selfies down the pub.
However, smartphone photography is increasingly being complicated by the advanced settings offered by modern handsets.
Few people know (or care) about technical issues like f/stop or ISO.
Fortunately, these simple tips will help you to take great photos without needing to become an expert on focal length and overexposure…
Tips for superior smartphone photography
1. Get your verticals straight. With a few notable exceptions, manmade structures like buildings or statues tend to be constructed with vertical lines and right angles.
If an object looks like it’s falling backwards or leaning to one side, it diminishes the quality of that image.
If your phone has a grid lines option in its viewfinder menu, turn it on. Try to ensure each vertical structure runs parallel with one of these lines, or with the edge of your screen.
2. Focus on the middle. Instagram prefers square images – it insists on them when posting Stories.
The edges of each landscape photo (or the top and bottom in portrait mode) are liable to be chopped off.
Try to ensure your image won’t suffer if people only see the central portion.
3. Crop out any clutter. Good photography is about what you don’t see, as much as what appears in shot.
If you’re photographing a building, move closer so you don’t end up also capturing double yellow lines, reflective street signs, wheelie bins, etc.
Unless you want to add context to an image, zooming in or moving closer ensures the central object dominates the picture.
4. Turn off the flash. Camera flashes can be surprisingly powerful, but they fire in a single direction with no subtlety.
As well as creating red eye when photographing people or animals, they could give the subjects retinal burn – and pets will soon shy away from having their picture taken.
Instead of relying on flash, turn on internal light sources, or tap your phone’s screen while it’s in camera mode to adjust the aperture settings (represented by a lightbulb).
5. Take several shots, and delete the weaker ones. It’s often hard to tell how a photo will turn out, so take a selection from different angles.
You can then make a judgement about which images are the most impressive, or detailed.
Android has a Review Pictures setting, displaying each newly-taken shot so users can decide whether to re-stage it or not.
6. Take a deep breath before taking a photo. Modern camera sensors try to compensate for blurring, but they’ll struggle to deliver crisp images if the phone is moving.
Taking a deep breath tenses your muscles for a few seconds, ensuring the device will be relatively stable as you press the shutter button.
Modern lenses tend to take very sharp, detailed photographs – as long as the camera is reasonably still.
7. Ensure photos are saved at a high resolution. Your phone will offer a variety of file sizes, and Medium is often the default.
It’s best to save photos at the highest pixel quality possible, since this supports post-production and editing in packages like Adobe PhotoShop or Corel PaintShop Pro.
(Some devices like iPhones shrink images for email purposes, but these compressed files won’t be suitable for publishing or editing.)