Discovering Secrets of Phone Cameras & Tips for capturing Stunning Photographs/Videos

Clicking good photographs involve lot of things like knowing your subject and place it well to have an impactful composition or making good use of lighting conditions. But all that can go for a toss if you don't know how to use your camera well. In this Blogpost, we will focus only on Phone camera as that's even more challenging in comparison to bigger digital cameras.

Clicking good photographs involve lot of things like knowing your subject and place it well to have an impactful composition or making good use of lighting conditions. But all that can go for a toss if you don't know how to use your camera well. In this Blogpost, we will focus only on Phone camera as that's even more challenging in comparison to bigger digital cameras. 


0. Know your Phone camera well !    Photography is an art, but learning scientific aspects of it is basic step to do better in this art-form. The very first step towards this journey is to understand your equipment well so that you know how to use it in best form. So go through various capabilities/features your phone-camera has. Make sure your know all features of your phone camera and what kind of outcomes you can achieve by each of those. Some of the common features you will find in most of the phone camera -    - Front Camera  - Back Camera  - Flash and be aware which camera modes support flash vs not.  - Camera modes : Portrait, Photo, Time-lapse, Slo-mo, Video, Square, Panorama etc.  - Check second level settings in these camera modes. E.g. - Portrait mode on iPhone has more settings like : natural lighting, studio lighting, contour light, stage light, stage light mono etc.  - Observe what kind of gesture.  - Pay attention to settings available in different camera mode.  - Understand how timer works in your phone camera to click sharp images.   - Be aware of different gestures which make changes in camera settings or how a photograph is clicked. E.g. - tapping on right side in Panorama mode starts your panorama capture from Right to Left. (by default on iphone, panorama is clicked from left to right)    Related Blogpost - Tips to click Great People Portraits with your Phone Camera

0. Know your Phone camera well !

Photography is an art, but learning scientific aspects of it is basic step to do better in this art-form. The very first step towards this journey is to understand your equipment well so that you know how to use it in best form. So go through various capabilities/features your phone-camera has. Make sure your know all features of your phone camera and what kind of outcomes you can achieve by each of those. Some of the common features you will find in most of the phone camera -

- Front Camera
- Back Camera
- Flash and be aware which camera modes support flash vs not.
- Camera modes : Portrait, Photo, Time-lapse, Slo-mo, Video, Square, Panorama etc.
- Check second level settings in these camera modes. E.g. - Portrait mode on iPhone has more settings like : natural lighting, studio lighting, contour light, stage light, stage light mono etc.
- Observe what kind of gesture.
- Pay attention to settings available in different camera mode.
- Understand how timer works in your phone camera to click sharp images. 
- Be aware of different gestures which make changes in camera settings or how a photograph is clicked. E.g. - tapping on right side in Panorama mode starts your panorama capture from Right to Left. (by default on iphone, panorama is clicked from left to right)


1. Hold your camera well - Steadily and right angle.     This is one of the most important aspect of Phone Photography. You need to ensure that camera is hold in such a way that you don't get shaky images. Stability of your phone in your hands is very important. If you place it on a tripod or a stable place can be even better. Stability of camera can bring lot of difference to quality of your photograph and you achieve better sharpness.     Holding well not only means holding your camera steadily but Camera angle matters.

1. Hold your camera well - Steadily and right angle. 

This is one of the most important aspect of Phone Photography. You need to ensure that camera is hold in such a way that you don't get shaky images. Stability of your phone in your hands is very important. If you place it on a tripod or a stable place can be even better. Stability of camera can bring lot of difference to quality of your photograph and you achieve better sharpness. 

Holding well not only means holding your camera steadily but Camera angle matters


2. Set focus of camera at right place & keep in mind that lighting is adjusted as per focus.     Phone cameras these days automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject or subject which is closest to the camera. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to focus. As you tap, you would notice it not only focusses the camera but also changes lighting on various things in the frame. In Photography world it's called metering. So when camera focuses it also adjust lighting so that main subject you wanted to be in focus is well lit.     Related Blogpost - Quick-Tips to click Great Selfies with your Phone Camera

2. Set focus of camera at right place & keep in mind that lighting is adjusted as per focus. 

Phone cameras these days automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject or subject which is closest to the camera. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to focus. As you tap, you would notice it not only focusses the camera but also changes lighting on various things in the frame. In Photography world it's called metering. So when camera focuses it also adjust lighting so that main subject you wanted to be in focus is well lit. 



3. Make best use of grid available in Camera Preview on your phone.    Learning your Camera capabilities is extremely important and one of the key feature you should enable on your camera is grid. It helps a lot ni composing your photographs appropriate and avoid misalignment of various objects in your photograph.     One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone's camera that are based on the Rule of Thirds , which is a photographic composition rule. Rule of Thirds says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. Please check out the link to know more and you would be appreciate why grids on camera preview can be very helpful.


3. Make best use of grid available in Camera Preview on your phone.

Learning your Camera capabilities is extremely important and one of the key feature you should enable on your camera is grid. It helps a lot ni composing your photographs appropriate and avoid misalignment of various objects in your photograph. 

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone's camera that are based on the Rule of Thirds , which is a photographic composition rule. Rule of Thirds says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. Please check out the link to know more and you would be appreciate why grids on camera preview can be very helpful. 




4. Keep your camera Lens Clean :    Phone is one of the most used gadget in our lives these days and we place it various places during the day. So it makes lot of sense to build a habit of cleaning camera lens before clicking photograph. And if you clean it too often, invest in good leans cleaning cloth as ordinary cloth can leave scratched on your lens which will impact quality of photograph is worst way.     Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Use Frames

4. Keep your camera Lens Clean :

Phone is one of the most used gadget in our lives these days and we place it various places during the day. So it makes lot of sense to build a habit of cleaning camera lens before clicking photograph. And if you clean it too often, invest in good leans cleaning cloth as ordinary cloth can leave scratched on your lens which will impact quality of photograph is worst way. 



5. Avoid using zoom & use your feet as Zooming equipment :

If you need to get a better look at your subject, move closer instead of using camera zoom. Digital zoom spoils the quality of your photographs, although you can take exceptions when you want to achieve some artistic perspective. Digital zooming increases impact of any shakiness in your hands, amplifies noise and lowers resolution of your final photographs.


Of course, you can’t always move closer to your subject, but in that case it’s almost certainly better to just crop later.


6. Shoot in Raw File Format on Android & Windows :

Some of the latest Android phones support shooting in Raw file formats, which are preferred given they are much better at capturing details in comparison to standard file formats. Raw formats are also better for editing.   

5. Extra lenses can offer you lot of options to explore :    I myself haven't tried it yet, but I know some of the my photographer friends who have invested in lenses for Phone camera which open lot of opportunities to click photographs with telephoto zoom lens, extra-wide or fish-eye or macro lens for macro photography.     It depends what kind of photography you want to do with your phone camera. Many use-cases are solved by default lenses these days.     Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Fill The Frame

7. Extra lenses can offer you lot of options to explore :

I myself haven't tried it yet, but I know some of the my photographer friends who have invested in lenses for Phone camera which open lot of opportunities to click photographs with telephoto zoom lens, extra-wide or fish-eye or macro lens for macro photography. 

It depends what kind of photography you want to do with your phone camera. Many use-cases are solved by default lenses these days. 


6. Make good use of Portrait mode in your phone camera :    Portrait mode is provided in cameras to click people portraits wherein focus is on main subject and surrounding are blurred out. For that you need to tap on subject so that focus is at right place.    Now, same mode can used for clicking other subjects and especially when you want to blur background to main subject in focus.     Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Isolate the Subject in your photograph

8. Make good use of Portrait mode in your phone camera :

Portrait mode is provided in cameras to click people portraits wherein focus is on main subject and surrounding are blurred out. For that you need to tap on subject so that focus is at right place.

Now, same mode can used for clicking other subjects and especially when you want to blur background to main subject in focus. 


7. Why limit to still photography? Create interesting slow-mo or time-lapse videos.     Phone cameras have some great features to capture motion. Like making time-lapse of clouds during monsoons, or slow motion while playing cricket. But be more creative with perspectives, and other rules of composition.     Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Change your 'Point of View' in Photography

9. Why limit to still photography? Create interesting slow-mo or time-lapse videos. 

Phone cameras have some great features to capture motion. Like making time-lapse of clouds during monsoons, or slow motion while playing cricket. But be more creative with perspectives, and other rules of composition. 

10. Use custom camera app, which may offer more convenient ways to click Great photographs.  

Android app-store has some pretty interesting camera apps to help you create some awesome photographs. Android phone cameras provide lot of options like - long exposure shots, night photography etc. I am not recommending any app here as I don't have enough comparative study yet, but will update the blog when I have enough details.  




9. Make use of Good Photo-editing applications like Snapseed :    Appropriate post-processing can transform your photographs. My favourite for editing phone photograph on phone is Sanpseed. It's super easy to use and offers great set of features/tools to edit photographs.     Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Leading Lines & Shapes    Another interesting link which also talks about other aspects.    Related Blogpost - Photography Composition Rules - Leave Negative Space

11. Make use of Good Photo-editing applications like Snapseed :

Appropriate post-processing can transform your photographs. My favourite for editing phone photograph on phone is Snapseed. It's super easy to use and offers great set of features/tools to edit photographs. 


Another interesting link which also talks about other aspects.


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