How to Improve Camera Phone Photography

Pro Tips and Suggestions on How to Improve Camera Phone Photography

So, you want to take some awesome photos using your camera phone? Well, for that, keeping in mind some basics of photography can help you exploit your camera phone's full potential.
Today, high-end phones come loaded with an awesome camera or sometimes, with two cameras. The cameras in these phones are so good that they can even substitute point and shoot cameras. Oh, yes sir! These camera phones come with a great resolution that deliver great picture quality. Also, being a part of high-end phones, they have so many features that allow you to take even better photos. But, I bet, half of you guys haven't even explored these features. Thinking of how to improve camera phone photography? Well, worry not my ignorant friends..! Listed below are some useful tips and some secret tips that will allow you to shoot brilliant photos using your camera phones.

Check the Camera's Features
Alright, the first thing you need to do is check what all the camera phone has to offer. This means, you need to go to the camera icon on your phone and check all the settings, modes, and other features it offers. Now, camera phones come with many features. However, the number of features in a camera phone depends on how good your phone is. If you have a basic phone, then it might have limited features, while high-end phones might offer better number of features. So, just check what are all the features in the camera phone. In case you don't understand the technical terms or settings, refer to the phone's user manual. Here are some features found in today's camera phones that are explained in brief.
  • The 'reduce noise' feature decreases grains in the picture, improves clarity, so keep this always on.
  • Various 'scene modes' help to quickly adjust settings with one click, change the scene modes according to the subject and time.
  • 'Face detection' feature helps to detect the face while taking portraits, thus improving the focus on face, so keep this always on.
  • 'Anti-shake or anti-blur' feature helps to reduce blur caused by shaking of camera. So keep this feature active.
  • There is a feature which allows you to choose the 'shutter sound', simply turn this off or at least let the sound be least disturbing.
  • There is a 'flash' in-built in many camera phones, use it at discretion, more about this is mentioned in the light section below.
  • 'ISO', is an important feature which allows you to control the amount of light and clarity of images. Higher the ISO, more exposed the subject is and lesser is the clarity, and vice versa.
  • In case you have an 'aperture' feature, use it too. Aperture is basically the size of the opening of lens. So, larger the aperture, more the light, and vice versa.
  • 'Shutter speed' is the amount of time the shutter in the camera is left open. So, higher the shutter speed, more is the amount of light entering and vice versa.
  • Another feature that phone cameras come with is - 'white balance'. It helps to bring out the colors properly in a shot.
Take Loads of Shots
Now, don't be shy! Go around playing with the various camera phone settings and modes. Take loads of pictures and notice the change in settings and modes reflected in your photos. Do the following exercises whenever you get time to get a hang of the technical settings:
  • You will notice that pictures shot on high-resolution have higher clarity, and vice versa.
  • You will notice that selecting modes like landscape bring in more green color in the landscape, similarly portrait mode helps to shoot softer pictures, also night mode quickly improves the amount of light in the picture. So, explore all the modes.
  • Also, explore the filters like sepia and black and white.
  • Another important feature you need to understand is white balance (WB). Choose an appropriate WB for different scenes. For instance: change the amount of WB when indoors, outdoors, during night, etc. A simple experiment is to place a plain white sheet on the table, and take various shots of it while adjusting the WB value.
  • If your phone has a feature that allows you to change aperture and shutter speed, then take pictures using different settings of these features. To check out the shutter speed, take a picture of tap water at various speeds. Experiment with small and large apertures by shooting a branch, to see how the focus and amount of light changes.
  • Also, explore ISO outdoors to see the clarity and lighting of pictures.
  • Turn off the shutter sound in case it irritates you, however, that sound can come handy when you are taking self-shots with a back-facing camera phone.
Check the Settings
So, once you have done the above exercises honestly (yes, I mean honestly!), you would have already got the hang of all the features and settings. So, before composing a subject, check the necessary settings required. For instance: if you are shooting a dog running, try the sport mode, and go for medium value of ISO. In case, you have to capture something quickly and don't have time to adjust any settings, then focus more on composing.

Check the Angle
Having the right angle can make a lot of difference. The subject of camera angles can be quite vast, so here are some pointers. Whenever you're shooting people, shoot at eye level. When you're trying to make something look big (like a building), shoot at a low angle. In case you want to shoot a document, shoot at the top angle, get really close in case you want to capture details on an object, e.g., texture of a tree bark.

Check the Light
This is a very important aspect of photography. So, don't ever underestimate the importance of lighting. Here are certain things to remember when trying to get a good shot. First, always see that the subject is well-lit. Certain camera phones might display a warning if the shot is not well-lit. In case, your phone has it, turn it on and use it to shoot well-lit pictures. Also, use a flash in case there isn't enough light. However, be warned because, using flash can increase the amount of shadows on the subject. Similarly to improve light, use the night mode, ISO, lower shutter speed and aperture. A very important thing to remember is to always get the light source behind you, this will give softer and well-lit pictures.

Compose the Picture Well
A well-composed frame can really help to take brilliant shots. Here are some pointers. Always, try to fill the frame. Try to focus on one subject rather than trying to capture many. In case you are trying to shoot a landscape, go for the wide zoom. However, if you have digital zoom only in your camera phone, then avoid taking landscapes. But, if you have a camera that allows to take high-resolution pictures, consider using the rule of thirds. To understand this rule, imagine two equally spaced horizontal and two equally spaced vertically lines. At the intersection of these lines, place your subject. This is because, the intersecting areas are where the eye first looks. Another important thing to remember while composing shots is to keep your fingers away from the lens.

Hold the Phone with a Steady Hand
This aspect is very important. Always, hold the camera phone with a steady hand. Here is one technique I use, compose the shot and before you are about to click the button, breathe in and then breathe out, then take a two-second pause and shoot. You might also want to balance yourself properly before taking a shot. To do this, simply stand at shoulder-length distance between your feet. Also, hold the phone properly so that it won't shake while you press the button. Use the automatic timer in case your phone has one, to avoid blur.

Use Photo-editing Software
Photo-editing software is good but don't make a habit of using it to always correct a bad photo. However, it can come quite handy in case of an important picture. To correct such pictures, use this software. Mostly, such software are used to correct lighting, reduce noise, crop, reduce blur and add filter effects.

Maintain the Lens
Keep your camera lens always clean. Use a lint-free soft cloth and wipe your camera lens regularly. Avoid using your fingertips to clean the lens, and in case you don't have a soft cloth, use your t-shirt to wipe the lens. This is important because, a clean lens helps to give clear and better pictures. To increase the life of your camera lens, put a transparent plastic guard on it.

Exploit Your Camera Phone Completely
Sometimes, you might wonder that the camera phone is not good enough and a better camera could have helped you take better pictures. However, this problem arises mostly when one is not capable of exploiting the complete potential of the camera phone. So, before you come to the conclusion that your camera phone is not good enough, exploit the camera phone completely. To do this, use the above tips and keep experimenting with all the settings and features, and I am sure you will be rewarded with great pictures. For instance: a portrait in black and white filter can give a timeless picture. Similarly, taking the camera phone really close to your pet dog's nose and shooting at a small aperture can give an unusual and interesting picture.

These were the important tips that will help you exploit your camera phone's potential and take some really great shots. After a month's practice of these tips, you will notice your camera phone photos have become better, which surely will make your friends ask, "did you take this pic?" Well, then with your smug smile when you reply "yes", do thank me mentally. Good luck and enjoy!!