How to take photography on your mobile to the next level
CommonWanderer
Guest blogger

This competition is now closed.

 


 

 

While we adore our DSLRs, you don’t always need a heavy, expensive camera to take your best photographs. These days, our phones aren’t just smarter, they’re also powerful compact cameras - and they’re changing the photography game entirely.
 
Whether you’re looking to capture your own travels, lift your selfie game, or document your family’s milestones better, we’ve partnered with EE to bring you our favourite tips for taking beautiful photos on your mobile phone!
 
 

The Common Wanderer_photographing Bucharest.jpg

 

 

Understand the basics

 

Understand these few simple photography composition basics and you’ll have your mobile photography game nailed in no time:

 

 

Straight horizons

 

The last thing you want is an image that looks like the world is falling off its axis. Straighten up those horizon lines!

 

 

The rule of thirds

 

The rule of thirds refers to mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as in the image below. The idea is that the human eye gravitates to these lines and the points at which they meet, so use your phone’s camera grid to help you place your important elements along those lines.

 

  

The Common Wanderer_using the grid.jpg

 

 

Follow the light

 

Photography is all about capturing light, and even the most boring composition can be totally transformed by using it well. Your phone’s camera is best equipped for soft, natural light - so look for the ‘golden hour’ in early morning and late afternoon.
Learn the capabilities of your phone

 


Set the focus manually

 

Getting your focus right is super important - after all, you want to make sure the lion in your safari photo is crystal clear, not the tree behind him! Most phones are pretty good at picking up where they think the focal point is, but to be sure, tap the object of your focus on your screen and the camera will do the rest.

 

Never, ever use the zoom function

 

The digital zoom on your phone crops the image as it zooms, which means that closeup of the Eiffel Tower will end up blurry and distorted. Instead, ‘zoom with your feet’ by moving yourself closer, or take the photo at normal size and crop it to the size you want during editing.

 

 

Use the volume button

 

Sometimes - like when you’re about to take an epic group selfie to rival Ellen’s - pressing the phone screen without dropping your phone is almost impossible. Press the volume buttons on your phone to release the shutter instead.

 

  

The Common Wanderer_group selfie.jpg

 

 

Download a better camera app

 

Cameras have come a long way since they first appeared on phones, but unfortunately, they still offer limited control over all of your settings. Download an app like Camera+ or Manual which allows you to adjust your camera’s settings better, like how much of your shot is in focus and how bright it is.

 

 

Use a clip-on lens

 

Clip-on lenses like the Olloclip allow you to get creative with the look of your shot. Changing up your angles to fisheye, wide angle, or macro can be a simple way to make your photos stand out.

 

 

Edit like a pro

 

Behind just about every epic photo you see in your Instagram feed today is an epic editing process. Avoid using the inbuilt phone filters (like B&W), and instead always shoot naturally first and adjust to your preference later.

 
There are tons of third-party editing apps available for the iPhone and Android phones now, but personally, we stick to Lightroom CC and VSCO. VSCO has beautiful presets based on real film looks and you can also tweak the temperature, highlights and shadows, and add some split toning if you’re feeling adventurous! Other great apps are Snapseed and Afterlight.

 

 

The Common Wanderer_ Mobile shot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, edited with VSCO.JPG

 

 

Night photography

 

Phones aren’t very well-equipped to deal with low light, which means night photography can be tricky - but not impossible. Grab a mini tripod to keep your phone stable, and use an app like Camera+ to adjust your overall settings. Avoid using the flash as it will blow out your foreground. Then, prevent camera shake by setting the countdown timer on your phone, and you’re set!

 
With so many phones on the market that offer great cameras, it’s easy to be spoilt for choice! I’ve seen some great reviews of the new Samsung Galaxy S9 though, as the camera’s been reimagined and now includes a radical 960FPS super slow-mo camera and low light enhancements, making night time photography easy.

 

There are so many great apps and mobile photography techniques out there - so now we’re throwing it out to you guys!
 
Share your own favourite tips for taking beautiful mobile photos in the comments below for the chance to win a KitVision Small Monkee Grip Flexible Foam Tripod and a HD Camera Lens Kit. Terms and conditions apply.

4 Comments
Legend
Legend
  • Try turning your phone onto its side and using landscape mode rather than portrait to capture more image. This is especially impressive with the LGG6, Galaxy S9 and Iphone X.
  • Use the filters to add a the extra touch to your image. These can sometimes be added before the picture is taken or after. Filters make your image look more dramatic;
  • For scenes or larger images try using the grid (under settings) see rule of thirds. This can really add more depth to your image. 
  • If your phone camera allows then save your photos in “raw” as well as .jpg. unlike standard .jpg images raw pictures are not compressed, so they allow for better editing especially on your home computer.
  • Invest in a tripod for those shots you need a steady hand. I have this one which is convenient to throw in your bag and can be attached to just about anything.
  • If you use a tripod then also turn on “voice control” under settings as then you don't need to touch the phone to take the picture. This is especially helpful on larger phones and when you want to take those steady shorts.
  • For those impressive night shorts or to have more control over your image use your camera “pro mode”. This allows more control over your exposure times, and other camera features. You can get some great shots especially if used with the tripod and voice control.   
  • Turn off flash as its largely no use;
  • Turn on HDR for richer images;
  • You can change the image aspect ratio under camera settings. This allows for more image options. You don't always need to take your picture in your camera maximum picture size.
  • Try another one of your camera modes rather than automatic. This is fine for most shots but sometimes your want more saturation such as taking that picture of your meal for facebook/instagram or selecting just one thing to focus on with focus mode. Most mobile camera come with these modes or they can be downloaded.
  • Panorama shots are not just for landscapes. Try using them in a room or if you need to take a group shot.
  • Your phone will have some image editing software but try download a good photo editor such as snapseed to add finishing touches.
  • If you phone has a memory card then buy a the largest best one you can afford. This will also save on phone memory space. Use your free online storage if your phone manufacture has a deal.
  • Experiment! And try your phone features.  

 

Hope these help.

CommonWanderer
Guest blogger

@Northerner thanks for the great tips! Smiley Happy

Legend
Legend

To add to my post above the Huawei P20 pro looks like an amazing camera especially in dark conditions.

russell_anam
Visitor
  • Don't move while taking your photos. Try to stand still.
  • Once focused if you reframe, focus again
  • Seriously, never use the flash
  • In low light, it helps if you place your camera or hand on top of something for support
  • Use the maximum resolution of the camera. You can always resize or crop for better framing later
  • Try a different angle. It's easier to take photos from near the ground using a phone than a camera.