How to up your phone photography game?

Apr 14, 2019 | Travel

Who of us wouldn’t like the photos with a nice bokeh and a beautiful depth of focus, a sharp subject, and  balanced colors. However, this means that you are forced to take your camera, take care of it and know before that there are moments that you want to capture. At the same time, we always have a phone with us, which nowadays takes totally decent photos, and a little later, with postprocessing, you can get a very good result.

I think that in Instagram’s storys, 90% of the pictures are taken and edited with my phone due to quick and effective solution. So, all the pictures in this post have been made yesterday in Nijemegen and honestly, not  in the best light conditions.

It is said that the best camera is the one you have with you, and although I use a hybrid camera that is quite a bit smaller than the SLR camera, I still don’t bother to carry it everywhere, and even if it is with me, I am sometimes too lazy to actually use it.

Nowadays, the flagships phones have very good cameras that will definitely outdo my teenage years digital cameras. Although flagship phones are expensive, if you see it as an investment in photography, maybe it does not seem as such a huge sum of money anymore. In fact, people who think that a reasonable phone price is 200-300 € will never understand why to pay 700-1000 € for a phone and that’s okay. The priorities of all of us should not be the same, so it’s just different point of view and that’s it. Also, you could buy an older flagship model which I’ve done myself before, or buy it for used, because there are always those who renew their phones right away when the new model hits the stores.

If you are ready to invest more in your phone (and its camera), I recommend either the Huawei P30 Pro, which has just come out, and is already rated as the phone with the best camera. I’ve also heard a lot about Google Pixel 3 (and if you’re a die-hard Samsung or Apple fan, your choice is already made for you). If the price range of 700-900€ is too high, I recommend looking at OnePlus, whose 6T you can get under 600€. I bought myself 5T last February when it was released, and I’m honestly very happy with both the phone itself and the camera. Certainly I’ll stay in the OnePlus family with the next one as well.

If your phone has a good camera, it’s a good start but you can also make some changes to its settings which will help you take even better photos. If you know about shutter speed, ISO and RAW, you can change everything in the camera’s pro mode. I’ve only bothered to change these settings once, but hey, if you don’t have a camera to learn on, do it on your phone. However, my experience so far has shown that with automatic settings, the phone makes perfectly tolerable images, and when I usually make an effort to fix the settings, I use my camera. However, the pro mode gives you an option to use RAW format which saves much more information that will benefitial in post-processing.

However, when shooting in Auto mode, however, you will benefit from adding a grid for the rule of thirds, which means that your camera will divide the image into nine squares. First, it would be good to leave your main subject at the intersection of the lines (not always in the centre) and, secondly, it will help you keep the horizon straight. Again, afterwards, you can straighten your image, but you will lose a bit of the picture, so try to keep it in mind already when taking the photo.

HDR mode, in which the camera uses different exposures to bring out details in darker parts, but does not ‘burn’ the sky, so it’s especially useful when capturing landscapes and architecture. It is automatically turned on on most phones.

At last, if you have a good phone, you have a sharp picture, its time to edit. There are so many different programs for post-process on the phone, but the most popular ones are probably Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom, which are complementary to each other, but at the same time you can get the job done with each of them alone as well. I only use Lightroom myself, but I also know people who use only Snapseed or VSCO, it’s completely up to preference. All of them have both free and paid versions.

Based on my experience I can only talk about Lighroom. When I did not use Lighroom Desktop some time ago, I made all my edits on the phone, so I bought a paid version. This gives you the ability to process RAW images and select specific locations on the image to be processed (e.g. eyes or sky only). All the photos in this post were edited with a single click, so I had made a preset (or filter) for myself and added just the same filter to each of them. Basically all influencers nowadays sell different presets, so if you don’t bother to learn how to do it, you can buy one for a few dozen euros and packages usually go for 30-50€. From Estonians Iti Järve ‘s has caught my eye, and MarieFeandJakeSnow seems to me to be the best from foreigners.

At the same time, I believe that if you yourself were to watch some YouTube videos or just experiment with it, you can find your own style, just these presets will give you the opportunity to shorten this learning process and get a more enjoyable result faster.

And that’s my big ‘secret’ in mobile photography. In Kristivikman_photography highlights you can finda  number of before and after photos. Although they’re taken with the camera, it gives you an idea of what a difference editing and colouring actually makes.

What phone are you using and are you just uploading images or editing them before in a program?

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