7 smartphone photography tips

By Caroline Schmidt. Posted

'The best camera is the one that's with you': we hear it all the time because it's simply true. In this age of image overload and social media uploads, our smartphones are everyone's everyday tool of choice when it comes to photography. For that very reason, if photography is important to you, chances are your phone's camera quality was a deciding factor in choosing the make and model you have in your back pocket.

After the announcement of the iPhone 11 and its 3-camera party today, maybe you'll be thinking about an upcoming switch, but even if you don't nor have one of the current top rankers – iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 or Huawei P30 Pro – there are plenty of ways to improve your phone photography today and here are just seven to get you started...

1) Get closer

Most smartphone cameras do a decent job of macro, but you can improve upon this by placing a small drop of water on the lens. The water will magnify the image, allowing for extreme close ups.

2) Add motion

Introduce motion for dynamic images using the Slow Shutter Cam app (£1.99) for iOS and, for Android, there's Camera FV-5 which brings DSLR manual photography controls to your phone making it easy to drag that shutter. Shoot passing vehicles, the ebb and flow of a river or urban light trails to harness incredible long exposures.


3) Shoot into the sun

Shoot into the light and let the sun flare and leak for atmospheric images. You can sometimes get purple flares on the smartphone camera, which isn't ideal, but these shots can be converted to black & white.

4) Create a time lapse

Secure your phone in place and use your chosen time-lapse app – some phones offer it built in, otherwise search Google Play or the App Store for 'Time Lapse' to be innundated with options. For iOS you've free Hyperlapse app and for Android devices there's Time Lapse Camera app and the Camera FV-5 app, all offering great functionality to create smooth time lapses on the go. Make sure your battery is charged before you start!

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5) Get low

Shoot an ant's-eye view for a different perspective. Place the phone on its side on the ground and use the 'volume up' button on the phone, or on your Apple earphones, to take the shot.

6) Do double exposures

Fused (iOS only) is an app designed to create double exposures in-phone. The idea is simple. You capture two images on your phone and import them both into the app. It offers 20 real-time blending modes and tools that allow you to draw and erase as you see fit. For Android devices, Photo Blending Art Effect - Double Exposures, works in similar way.


7) Try a new app

While you may have your Adobe apps, Snapseed, VSCO and Pixlr are great additions to your mobile editing arsenal – give them a go! Pixlr is a photographic editor too but it also comes packed with features to create montages from your photographs.

For the capture stage, the Halide app for iPhones may not be cheap, but it lets you capture scenes better than your in-phone camera can alone by allowing you to change exposure, control focus and work with a detailed histogram. However you will need an iPhone 8 or newer model for this photo app to work on your iPhone.

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