August 29, 2016
"iphone photography tips"Cellphone-photography-tipsTop 10 tips to get professional photos from your cellphone

Take professional photos with your cellphone: Top 10 Tips

With the reducing cost of cellphone and its camera technology getting better and better every year, everyone have the liberty now pick up a cellphone and take a photo, but it takes a more skilled photographer to create a stunning image. Taking incredible photos with a cellphone is not difficult. Here are my top tips to get the best out of your cellphone!

1.    Keep the lens surface clean

This is one of the most important aspects we ignore most of the time. Our camera lens is more prone to dust & fingerprints which in turn cuts the amount of light hitting the camera sensor and deteriorates the overall image quality. So from now onwards, make sure you clean the lens surface before taking your shot.

Motion-blur Exif: Lenovo P780, f/2, 1/230 sec, ISO - 100, 4 mm  Colosseum-Rome Exif: iPhone 6s, f/2.2, 1/1300 sec, ISO - 25, 4 mm 

2.    Adjust your exposure manually

Over the last couple of years, we have seen a drastic improvement on the camera technology front, be it Cellphone or a professional DSLR. Slowly, we can see our cellphone cameras evolving with advanced features like Manual controls which use to be only expected in a DSLR.

Now what does these Manual control options allow us to do? It basically enables us to take control and to direct the camera to shoot for the desired result instead of Camera taking the control.

To start with, let me explain you the Exposure compensation option:

Exposure Compensation is a feature of a camera that allows you to adjust/ override the exposure measured by the cellphone’s light meter. Consider the below 2 images one with and one without exposure compensation. 

The first image is the outcome when using the camera without exposure compensation. In this case camera decides the exposure (not you) by looking at the scene and averaging out the light and dark parts of the scene. In this example, most part of the image was dark therefore the overall exposure calculated by the camera after averaging the exposure made the overall image look brighter.

In the second image, I dialed in an exposure compensation of -1 which means I told the camera to reduce the overall calculated exposure by one stop which for me is where the exposure of the image should be.

Hare-Krishna Exif: Lenovo A7000, f/2.2, 1/33 sec, ISO - 195, 4 mm, Exp bias - 1 step

This option is readily available with most of the stock/ built-in camera applications. There are multiple apps available in Play store like Google camera etc. which has these advanced controls in case you don’t have this feature available with the default camera app.

Cellphone manual camera settings 3.    Use your feet to zoom instead of digitally zooming the scene in the phone for better image quality.

Camera phones normally zoom into a scene digitally (Digital Zoom) and not optically (Optical Zoom). Now, what does that mean? 
An optical zoom is a true zoom lens, like the zoom lens you’d use on a film camera. They produce many better-quality images whereas digital zoom is simply some in-camera image processing. When you use a digital zoom, the camera enlarges the image area at the center of the frame and trims away the outside edges of the picture. The result is the same as when you open an image in your photo-editing program, crop away the edges of the picture, and then enlarge the remaining portion of the photo.
Enlarging the “zoomed” area also enlarges the pixels and reduces the image resolution and the image quality.
So instead of zooming in your cellphone camera, move closer to the scene and shoot for the best quality.

Exif: Galaxy S9, f/2.4, 1/6000 sec, ISO - 50, 4 mm

Silhouette Exif: Lenovo P780, f/2, 1/2900 sec, ISO - 130, 4 mm

4.    Follow the basic rules of composition to take well balanced and interesting photos 

There are several ways in which we can compose a picture, like 
- The rule of thirds: Imagine dividing the image into 9 equal parts by 2 equally spaced Horizontal & Vertical lines and place the important element of the image onto these interaction points.
- The golden spiral rule: Also known as Fibonacci’s Ratio is a pattern/ design that is universally efficient in living things and pleasing to the human eye.
- Balancing Elements: Place the main element you want to concentrate on one side of the frame and balance it by placing another element on the other side.
- Leading Lines: Click on the below link to have a better understanding and examples of Leading lines in photography.

Golden-Ratiorules of composition Exif: iPhone 6s, f/2.2, 1/50 sec, ISO - 25, 4 mm

Exif: Galaxy S9, f/2.4, 1/1311 sec, ISO - 50, 4 mm
Exif: Galaxy S9, f/2.4, 1/6000 sec, ISO - 50, 4 mm
Leading-lines Exif: Sony C6903, f/2, 1/30 sec, ISO - 50, 5 mm, Exp bias -2 step

All of which are aimed to do only and only one thing, make images look more appealing to the human eye. Try to compose your shots keeping these basic rules in your mind and see the difference!

5.    Shoot from a different perspective (From the ground level or from the top): 

It’s easy to use a cell phone to achieve these difficult angles. Use the flexibility of your cell phone to compose shots with unusual angles which would have been otherwise difficult to get using a DSLR.

Airport-escalator Exif: Lenovo P780, f/2, 1/30 sec, ISO - 100, 4 mm

6.    Use Panorama Mode: 

A mode readily available in almost all cell phones. A panoramic image depicts a field of view considerably wider than the one that can be captured in one exposure, and it tells a more complex story and draws the viewer of the image closer to the feeling of what it was like to be there. Use this wide format photography to get some unique pictures.

Cellphone-Panorama Exif: Lenovo A7000

7.    Less is more: 

Don’t over process the images since the files coming out from a mobile camera do not have much details/ bandwidth for a lot of post-processing. A subtle processing using an app like Snapseed, VSCO etc. will lead to more natural-looking images.

Cellphone-photography-tips Exif: iPhone 6s, f/2.2, 1/1500 sec, ISO - 25, 4 mm

8.    Incorporate reflections in your shots: 

Using water, windows, mirrors or any sort of reflective surface can change an image into a work of art and cellphones being portable, act as a great tool to achieve it.

ReflectionUse of reflection in photography Exif: Lenovo P780, f/2, 1/370 sec, ISO - 100, 4 mm

Exif: Samsung S9, f/2.4, 1/60 sec, ISO - 50, 4 mm

9.    It’s all about the light, learn how to use it!:  

This goes without saying. Learn and exercise this art by analyzing the quality, quantity, and direction of light. You will be simply amazed by what you can do with a simple camera phone once you master lighting.

Leading-linesUse of leading lines in photography Exif: Sony C6903, f/2, 1/5000 sec, ISO - 64, 5 mm, Exp bias -2 step

Exif: Samsung SM-G610F, f/1.9, 1/3378 sec, ISO - 40, 4 mm, Exp bias -0.4 step

10.    Keep your camera phone still during low light situations: 

Try leaning your camera phone (or the hand holding it) against a solid object (like a tree, wall, ledge) when taking shots.

Exif: Galaxy S9, f/1.5, 1/11 sec, ISO - 250, 4 mm

light-streaks Exif: iPhone 6s, f/2.2, 1/35 sec, ISO - 100, 4 mm

Special thanks to Pulkit Singh for sharing few of his images for this blog.


Rohan Mishra Photography- Creative Weddings and lifestyle photoshoots.