I think you all know I love taking pictures, photography is one of my favourite things to do. Which means I always have a camera at hand whether that is my phone or my DSLR, I find it’s worth carrying something that I can take pictures with. But sometimes the pictures we take on our phones may seem to be lacking in depth or just look amateurish when compared to the more professional cameras or those from people who have mastered the art of great phone photography. In this blog post, I wanted to touch on a few simple and easy steps to help you achieve wonderful photographs taken and edited from a phone.
My device of choice is an iPhone 6s, I have spent the last three years getting used to them and enjoying the simple yet functional layout of the app not to mention the great quality that is produced. Most of the time we have a smart phone in our pockets which have an amazing camera on them, taking pictures has never been so easy! But at the same time, it has become so much more important to take better photos as we all strive to get that ‘perfect shot’. So here are a few of my tips to achieve great images every time.
This is the important one! Having a good source of lighting will always help in creating sharp images that are filled with loads of details as well as soft shadows.
Indoors: When you are shooting inside make sure you are near a window where there is plenty of natural light coming in. But make sure you are not standing between the object and the light source and blocking anything that will help illuminate the picture. During the winter it does make things a little bit more difficult as the days get darker sooner and the weather is more overcast. Try to avoid direct sunlight as this can create harsh shadows and drastic lighting differences so this won’t look as good. Try to avoid using artificial lighting or flash as much as you can.
Outdoors: Since it’s getting closer to Winter there will be less sunny days so harsh shadows won’t be too much of an issue here. If it is going to be a bright, sunny day it might work out better if you head out in the morning or evening before the sun is at its highest point in order to get the best kind of photographs. Ones without any harsh lighting differences. If you find yourself taking pictures during midday then it might be good to look around see if you can find any shade to help block some of the light. But you won’t have to worry too much about this on an overcast day. The only problem is the colours will not be as vibrant and may take a bit of editing to fix.
Nightime: I tend to avoid taking photos at dusk or late in the evening, as the sun has set and it becomes more difficult to get crisp photos that have enough detail in them. There’s no real light source so unless you’re taking a picture of the city skyline or city lights, I’d stay away from night time pictures. It just creates a grainy and blurry photo.
It may take a while for you to find out a composition style that suits you. Play about for a bit and experiment with different angles, try crouching on the ground or get a shot that is upclose and in detail. For this, I would recommend a macro lens. I spoke about using them in a blog post which you may find interesting. You can find it > here <
Once you have found a style you like then it is always best to keep practising until you get better at it and can instantly recognise what angle you would need for a particular type of photo. But I would still keep trying them in rotation and experimenting as you might just surprise yourself.
The next piece of advice Is the same rule as one that applies to DSLR photography. Whenever you frame a landscape or subject think about the ‘Rule of Thirds‘. This basically helps you to proportion pictures properly by lining up key points of a picture on the lines. If you didn’t know you can turn on a grid mode on your phone which displays a grid whenever you take a picture. You can access this function by going into settings > scroll down to photos and camera > scroll down > turn on grid mode. This is so good when you are in need of a little help of how best to frame a picture and it’s a little function that I recommend you turn on. Just be sure you become familiar with the rule of thirds and how they work.
I mentioned this in the point above but if you really want to step up your game without spending lots of money then I would suggest you invest in a decent clip on lens kit. You can find them as cheap as £6 on Amazon. I recommend the VicTsing 3 In 1 Clip-On Lens it has amazing reviews and you get three different type of lenses in this kit. It isn’t too much money to splash out on and can really improve your photography skills. I did talk more about it in > this < blogpost so if you’re interested in learning more then it might be worth a quick read.
This can really change the way you take pictures and can add so many interesting perspectives. I love using my macro and wide angle lens when I want a little extra from my device when I don’t have my bigger camera at hand. So if you have followed all of the other steps and cannot seem to improve your pictures then it might be worth giving it a shot.
Oh boy, I have seen countless pictures where people have gone to town using filters and it just looks awful! Use these sparingly! I understand filters make a picture look pretty and can help enhance an image but when I say less is more I mean it. If you took a bad picture adding filters won’t make the image look any better. I stay completely away from Instagram filters I don’t think they do much for an image instead I opt for minor adjustments in VSCO Cam. This wonderful creation has really helped me improve my editing skills and refine a certain style of photo. It is all about enhancing the image, bringing out the high points and the low without looking overly edited.
You can see part of my editing style above. I tend to start with the filters, I use A6-A10 the most. Those are some of my favourites and it ensures I keep a consistent style in my photos. This picture above was taken on my phone, like all of the other pictures in this blog post but this particular one was taken in a moving vehicle just to prove you can get really good pictures when you think about composition and timing. Once I have selected the filter, I move onto adjustments. In the app, I move along the options so I start with Exposure first, followed by Contrast, Sharpen, Clarity and sometimes Saturation. If the image doesn’t seem right I tend to go back to Exposure to see what different brightnesses look like or adjust the Crop of the image to see which composition would work best.
So be sure to give VSCO a try and download all of the free filters that they have available and maybe even purchase a few filters that you can see yourself using quite a lot. It is a great investment and they tend to get used quite a lot, plus this app has worked wonders for me over the years, it is my go to app when I have a picture I want to edit whether I have taken it on my DSLR or just my phone. Other apps that I use for editing pictures includes Airbrush which is a free app and Enlight, a paid app, for more graphic style images.
5| Burst Mode
There isn’t really a fast shutter speed on the phone, so what you’re given is what you get. Instead of just tapping the button when you think the picture would look great to find out you took it at the wrong time or you blinked and ruined what would have been a great photo. A really quick and easy step to solving this issue is to continue pressing down on screen or on the volume button and keep on taking pictures until you think you have the photo. This works great if you are taking pictures of something that is moving fast and you want to try and get the best possible picture of it that you can. You never know when you might come across the perfect photo opportunity.
So there it is my top five tips on how I improved my photography and ways that you can help to improve yours. I hope you have found this useful and can go away and practise what I have suggested.
What tips do you have for iPhone photography? Do you have any apps that you love to use? Do let me know and share this blog post, I would love to hear from you!