Your phone is your companion everywhere you go. Be it the office, a party or an office party; your smartphone is always with you. Every one of us likes to get our phone to deliver the best every time. And everyone loves taking photos of almost everything. But sometimes, despite having a great camera, like the one on Galaxy S8, the photos seem rather dull and out of balance. Everyone has had that experience at least once in their lifetime.

Today’s smartphones are better at taking photos than what most digital cameras could ten years ago. What is it that you are missing out which is causing your images to look not-so-good? What should I do to get the best photos every single time I use my phone’s camera? Here’s what you can keep in mind every time you decide to venture out to taking pictures of a landscape, or a flower, a portrait, etc. and get the most out of your camera.

Keep your lens clean

The lens of most of the cameras is made of scratch resistant plastic or glass. While plastic attracts dust particles, glass is known to be a lover of fingerprint blotches. Having any of these on your phone will cause the camera to capture pictures out of quality and with a lot of smudges. In short, a dirty lens will take ‘dirty’ images.

Light is Everything

Remember photography is a game of light. Light is everything in a good photo. There is no hope of getting a good photograph if you cannot understand the lighting conditions well. e.g. never take a picture when there’s a light source behind your subject. Try taking an image from the sides or ask them to switch places. Making the best out of the available light is the trick to get the best photographs.

Explore the technical things

Depending upon the autofocus all the time may not be a very good idea after all. Start exploring the manual mode and different technical nuances of your camera. Let’s take a look at the basic technical aspects of any digital camera:

  • White Balance: The white balance is the property to adjust itself according to the lighting conditions. A higher value of white balance leans towards red colour, and lower values tend towards blue. Adjust the white balance accordingly to get the best colour reproduction. This property can also be used to some lighting generate effects.
  • Exposure: The exposure of the camera determines the amount of light falling on the sensor. Try to keep it as close to the 0 value under normal conditions. More exposure would mean more light is falling on the sensor and vice versa. Adjust your exposure accordingly.
  • ISO:  This is the ‘sensitivity’ setting of the camera’s sensor. A greater ISO setting would render the sensor more sensitive to the falling light, consequently causing noise to enter the image. Increase the ISO if you must, but make sure you keep it as low as possible.
  • Shutter Speed: The shutter speed is calculated in seconds and determines the time for which light will fall on the sensor. More the shutter speed, more ‘burnt’ the images. Increase the denominator for bright conditions.
  • Focus: Setting your focus manually will let you have greater control over which part of the object in front of you need to be focussed on. AF usually tends to focus on the most significant object on the screen, which may not be the object you wish to focus on.

Avoid Using Digital Zoom

Digital Zoom uses pixel interpolation to magnify the image for you. Unlike optical zoom, digital zooming will cause loss of quality. Sometimes, to the level where distinguishing between objects becomes difficult, especially for objects near to each other, but far from the photographer.

Download a better camera app

Most phones such as the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7, entire Zenfone series, etc. come with great in-built applications to capture images. However there are other applications as well, such as Camera FV-5 and DSLR Camera Pro, that are suitable for photography, the latter being specially designed for manual mode. Most of these applications allow for better manual control and effects than the stock camera apps that companies usually install.

Look for Shadows too

A good photographer loves shadows as much as they love the light. Many good photos make use of shadows effectively to generate a different effect. Look around for an angle that would get you the best light and shadows as well.

Avoid Flash

Flash causes the most problems in photos. A flash will mostly cause the sensor to concentrate on the objects nearby and makes an image look bad. However, in pitch dark conditions, a flash is a must. Use the flash very rarely. Suggestion? Put the flash off whenever you’re trying to get an effect in your image.

Grid-Lines are a saver

Use the grid lines as a saver for your images. Keeping your object at any of the intersection points mostly is the optimum position for the object being photographed to stay at. Also, grid lines come handy when taking a landscape shot. This helps you keep the horizon in a horizontal position and doesn’t disturb the image.

Keep your camera steady

Although most of the phones such as the Xiaomi Mi5 get you 4-axis OIS technology at a great price, it would be for nothing if you cannot keep your hand stable. Try using both the hands while taking an image. This will help you keep the photo from blurring due to the motion. If possible get a stand if you’re passionate about it.

Use Post-processing

As much as photographers hate to admit it, post-processing is extremely necessary to bring out the details and colours in your images. People may hate Adobe Photoshop and Gimp; blame them for ‘destroying the original beauty’ of photographs, but software is necessary for making an impact on anyone who sees the photo. Mostly heavy software are not even needed. Heck, you don’t even need a PC to get the best results from editing. Basic applications are available all over the app stores, whether Android or iOS.

Keep in mind these tips, and you may end up with some amazing photographs, which people may not even believe at first that they were captured using a smartphone.