Top tips for taking better photos on your phone!

Swan River, Australia (Jacob Rogers) 2016

In this day and age our mobile phone is becoming a necessity in everyday life, and more and more people are relying on it throughout the day, whether it be for emails, important business calls or playing games.

Many years ago, taking “good photos” was time consuming and usually expensive. You either needed access to a lot of money to afford the luxury of using film or a top of the range camera at the time which would need fancy editing software to edit the photos

Sometimes we are caught short and don’t have our camera. So, I have created a list of some of my top tips for getting the most out of your smartphone!


  • See what you are shooting properly
    Turn the screen brightness all the way up so you can see what you are shooting clearly.
    some newer phones have “night shift” or other filters that alter the colours on the screen. Make sure you turn these off otherwise what you see on the screen won’t be as accurate as it could be.

    Life is a blur (Jacob Rogers) 2015

  • Clean lens, better photos
    Make sure the camera lens is clean and fingerprint free. Our phones get greasy quickly and with more and more smartphones having cameras that stick out slightly from the body of the phone it is more important that you take good care and make sure the lens is clean.

    The King (Jacob Rogers) 2017

    likewise if you are shooting through glass insure that you try to shoot through clean glass.


  • Set your phone to the highest quality
    If you take a really nice picture it may look great on a small phone screen but will quickly pixelate and drop in quality when you enlarge it.

    Early Morning May (Jacob Rogers) 2017

  • Use gridlines
    Most smartphones allow for you to use “gridlines” and give a good visual representation for balancing and framing the shot. This is one of the easiest ways to make the photos you take more visually appealing as it uses rule of thirds which is photographic composition principle that says the image should be broken down into 9 equal parts.

According to this theory if you place points of interest on the cross-sections or along these lines your photo will be more level and balanced. This allows the viewers to interact with the image easier and also draws them into the image as it appears more visually appealing.

IPhone: go to “Settings” select “Photos and Camera” and turn “Grid Lines” on

Samsung: open the “Camera” app and press “Settings” scroll down and choose “grid lines” you may have a few options depending on different phone models.

 



 

  • Find different perspectives
    A lot of the time we all fall into the common mistake of shooting everything at eye level. Be different and make the photos you take stand out by shooting from different angles. This will give your photos a different feel.

    Orange (Jacob Rogers) 2017
    hope (Jacob Rogers) 2017

  • Find support
    Steady surfaces to rest your phone on will make photos you take sharper and reduce blur. Most modern smartphones have image stabilisation but it’s always good to find a stable surface to maximise the quality.


  • Use the volume keys
    Some phones allow you to use the volume button or have a dedicated camera button. Make use of these and be sure to use them when available to reduce unwanted blur from the screen being tapped. Headphones with audio controls can be used to control the phones camera shutter. This can be useful for taking group shots with the phone on a table or something.


  • Light is your friend
    Make the most of the natural light, when the sun is shining shoot away from the sun to avoid unwanted lens flares. Try not to shoot towards the light if you can help it as can be tricky to get the exposure right and usually the subject ends up too dark because the camera will compensate for the lighter area.

    Sundown (Jacob Rogers) 2016
    Phase One (Jacob Rogers) 2017

  • Change the focus
    Try a different point of focus, by tapping the screen you should be able to choose a point to focus on. Some phones also let you track movement, so if you are trying to photograph a moving object this can be very helpful.


  • Ditch the flash
    Let’s cut to the point, the flash on most phones is usually disgusting, normally leaving a horrible yellow/orange tone. Try to use natural lighting where possible, but if there is no other option then use the flash, you can make some changes to improve the photo in post-production later (more about that later)


  • Crop, don’t zoom
    Move closer!
    Don’t use the zoom on the phone, you compromise quality for the sake of a few steps closer to the subject. There may be situations where moving closer isn’t an option. Instead of zooming in, try cropping the photo after

    (Jacob Rogers) 2017

  • Edit don’t add filters
    Don’t try to add fancy in camera filters, take the photo and edit it after. All filters do is add pre-set settings to the image. Get creative and edit the photo yourself. You can make it more personal


  • Be creative
    sometimes it’s good to try something different! Don’t be afraid to try new things and go against the grain. It’s all about trial and error.

 

 


I hope some of these tips help you to become a better photographer when you only have access to a smartphone.
Are there any tips that you feel I should have covered? Let me know below!

 

Don’t forget to share with a friend who could benefit from this!

Brighton – Saltdean

These pictures were great fun to take. My sister had spotted the one place on our walk where the sea splashed onto the promenade and she wanted to get wet. Patience was needed as the waves only came up that far intermittently.
I wanted to freeze the water in my photograph and keep my sister in focus. I used a low ISO to get the best quality and a fast shutter speed to get the shot I wanted. The sun was to camera right so it lit her face well. This lighting situation was very similar to work I have done in the studio as it created split lighting which is an effect that I like for portrait photography.

I shot in continuous mode so I could get a sequence of photographs and document the excitement and surprise on her face as the water came towards her.

These two shots have been edited using Lightroom. I wanted to enhance the colours and make the water stand out. I increased the contrast and clarity slightly which emphasised the detail in the shot. I tried not to tweak too many settings so the shot would remain looking as natural as possible.

Langdon Hole Urbex





Here is a report of my recent urbex trip to Langdon Hole,
I was only able to explore one of the tunnels, I will be going back to explore the second half.

Some background information:
The two sets of tunnels were constructed during WW2. They appear to be satellite sites for the communication facility beneath Dover Castle. They are often referred to as ‘DUMPY A’ (Long Hill) and ‘DUMPY B’ (Langdon Hole) (the one I explored). They are constructed of mainly steel shuttering with iron girders for support, typical of military tunnels of this period, and consist of two long parallel tunnels connected at either end. According to online research both tunnels have two exits, the tunnel I explored had one entrance that was tucked away in the side of the hill and the other entrance that had sadly collapsed, although you could still climb the narrow shaft to the top it didn’t lead anywhere. The Langdon Hole tunnels, in the rear of the natural dip in the landscape, known as ‘Langdon Hole’, on the cliffs between Dover and St. Margaret’s, have suffered from being open to vandals throughout the 1970s, and much of the inner lining has been destroyed. However many interesting features, such as ventilation pipes and 1940s graffiti, still remain.

As you can see in the attached photos the tunnels have been the victims of abuse, there were beer cans everywhere, cigarette butts (not very smart to light a flame in an area that is already oxygen deprived but what do you expect from teens who think they know everything?). I unfortunately only took a small LED torch with me (shown in pictures below) as I wasn’t expecting such vast tunnel systems.

For those wondering, when I explore I always leave the location as I found it, though I’m sure no one will miss a few rusty cans it is still nice to have the common decency to leave it untouched so other explorers can enjoy it as well.
Thank you very much if you are still reading at this point. I would really appreciate your feedback