Phone Camera Tricks And Effects

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Phone Camera Tricks And Effects – By now, we’re all familiar with the basics of smartphone photography: you pull out your phone and press a button. But if you’re really going to cherish those memories for posterity, then you want your phone shots to look their best. So up your phone photo game with these nine tips and tricks.

Camera settings, lighting, scene modes and composition can all play a role, as we’ll explain. And when your photos look perfectly fantastic, make sure you take the time to back them up somewhere safe.

Phone Camera Tricks And Effects

Smartphone cameras have come a long way in a short time, and most phones now give you some control over the focus and exposure of your shot. If manual focus is available, it’s usually activated by tapping the screen on the point where you want the camera to focus.

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Also check your phone’s camera app settings. If you find the face detection option, it will automatically turn on faces, which will help you avoid shots where your friends’ faces are blurry.

Then there’s exposure, or how much light is allowed into the frame. In the default iPhone camera app (shown above), you can tap once to focus, then hold and drag to adjust exposure. It’s a similar story in the camera app for stock Android: tap once to focus, then you can adjust the exposure via a slider that appears at the side or top of the screen. For more tips on night photography, check out this guide to photographing celestial objects in the night sky.

HDR, or high dynamic range, is now a staple feature of smartphone camera apps. Simply put, it brings out the details in the darkest and lightest parts of your image and creates a better color balance overall. The downside is that processing photos in HDR mode takes a bit longer than your smartphone can handle.

It is particularly suitable for landscape and portrait shots, especially when there is a large range between the darkest and lightest parts of your photo. Because it takes a few milliseconds longer to capture shots, you should avoid using it on fast-moving subjects or when you can’t hold the phone steady.

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Whatever the make and model of your phone, you should see “HDR Mode” somewhere prominent on the screen. It’s also likely that you can set this to turn on automatically (like on stock Android, above), which means HDR mode will kick in when the camera feels it might be useful. You can also turn HDR mode on and off manually.

Light is one of the most important factors in any photograph. If you can use available natural light, then you won’t need to use your phone’s built-in flash (which may give you less-than-ideal results, especially at a distance).

If you can, position your subjects so that they are well lit from the front and are not silhouetted by strong light from behind. Of course, this is not always possible for quick shots, but do what you can.

Using artificial light can also work, but you need to be more careful. For example, in a night scene, you’ll have your friends stand closer to the glow of the artificial lights than deep in the shadows, and make sure their faces are as lit as possible. Using flash can help, but if you have time, try one shot with flash and one without to see the difference.

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One area where smartphone snappers still lag behind dedicated cameras is their sensitivity to motion. Even a slight shake can leave a smartphone photo looking like it was taken on a swing, and a more professional DSLR can handle this type of movement better.

Therefore, it is important to reduce camera shake as much as possible. Buying a tripod may seem like overkill, but you can opt for inexpensive, small tripod models designed specifically for smartphones.

If you don’t want to get a tripod, use whatever is available – a wall, a friend’s shoulder, or even your other arm. Maintaining frame stability is especially important in low-light conditions when exposure times must be longer.

It’s an old photography trick that’s been around for years, but you can still use it on smartphones. According to the rule of thirds, the image is divided into nine equal blocks that form a three-by-three grid (as in the image above). You should map the most interesting parts of your image (such as a tree line or a group of faces) to the corners of these segments where the imaginary grids meet.

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To improve your shot composition, try the rule of thirds. Whether you’re catching up with friends at a bar or working on a landscape shot, it’ll be simple and effective.

It’s even easier when you don’t have to imagine the dividing lines yourself. This is the age of instant smartphone photography, and almost every camera app will display them for you. In Android’s stock camera app, you’ll find a grid icon at the edge of the screen, while in iOS, the grid option is under Photos and Camera in Settings.

The days of waiting for your film to be processed and developed before you can see your photos are long gone. Take advantage of our brave new world of instant photography by taking as many shots as possible. Then, you can go through your photos after the event and delete all but the best ones.

Most phones have a burst mode for this purpose. On both iOS and (stock) Android, you activate it by pressing the shutter button in photo mode. You can dive into the camera settings to make changes to how burst mode works.

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Third-party camera apps often have a burst mode as well. It gives you a useful range of different images to choose from and can be used in almost any situation, from casual family shots with your cousin’s tendency to blink to wildlife photos.

Getting good pictures from your phone doesn’t start and end with your camera app of choice. You can also add a photo editing app to the mix to tweak your shots before sharing them with the wider world.

You are spoiled for choice in this section. In addition to the native photo gallery and editing apps provided by Apple and Google, alternatives like Snapseed (above), Adobe Photoshop Express, and VSCO can do wonders with your images. Adobe is even incorporating AI into its photo editing apps.

You can add filters, change colors, adjust images and more. Also keep an eye out for “one-touch” tweaks that improve your images with minimal effort on your part. Some image editing apps import photos taken with your camera, while others have their own built-in camera component. Which brings us to our next tip…

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If you’ve never ventured beyond your phone’s default camera app, then you might be surprised at how many third-party alternatives there are. They give you access to additional settings, different features and filter packs to make your mobile photos look their best.

Take Guide for iOS, for example, which lets you control shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and more. Afterlight for iOS and Android gives you access to a pro-like suite of tools, along with impressive filters.

Speaking of filters, Instagram for iOS and Android (above) isn’t just a social network. It can also turn your poor quality photos into works of art with just a few clicks. The app now includes tons of editing and processing tools in addition to the filters it’s known for, making it one of the best photography apps you can get.

Even with tons of third-party camera apps to choose from, it’s worth exploring what the default app on your phone has to offer. If you’re on iOS, the built-in camera comes with a selection of live filters to choose from (tap the icon in the top right corner to see them). And if you’re using an iPhone 7 Plus, then you can swipe into portrait mode for an instant depth-of-field effect (where the subject remains sharp but the background is blurred).

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On Android, the camera app you have will vary depending on which manufacturer made your phone. The stock Google Camera app has a very useful lighting filter available on the thermometer icon. You can choose from presets including Cloudy and Tungsten, so you can get colors just right no matter what type of lighting you’re dealing with.

Meanwhile, the default camera apps from Samsung, LG, Sony, Huawei (above) and others include additional scenes and tools to play with. For example, on new Samsung phones, you can press the Mode button to bring up a Pro mode packed with filters and color and contrast adjustments that can be changed even before you shoot. So open your app and explore.

David Nield is a Popular Science freelance contributor who produces how-to guides and how-to guides for the DIY section on everything from upgrading your smartphone.

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