Mobile photography

MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE – By Varun Patel

In this article, I will be covering up everything you need to know about your mobile camera. Right now there is majorly two OS ( operating system ) available in the market. Android OS and IOS ( iPhone ). I am an android user so the images and examples in this article will be more towards the android side. But that does not mean we are going to ignore IOS systems. I will surely answer any of your IOS system questions in the comment section. So feel free to use the comment feature and ask any number of queries.

I also have included some basic videos ( in the Hindi language ) for your quicker understanding of the points. Some important links for external apps to help you shoot and edit have been also mentioned in the article.

Mobile Photography Guide – Main Pointers

  • Gears
  • A right shooting mode as per the scene
  • Rule of thirds
  • Shot Angle
  • PRO mode
  • Understanding the light for better images

Before we start with anything, let me share some very helpful video links with you. These video links will help you understand everything with visuals and practical examples.

I insist to watch all given videos before you start with this article.

Few very important and useful tips for better mobile photos.


Everything about mobile photography gears

Learn everything about your mobile camera shooting modes

Gears

For mobile photography, you will find a lot of gears and accessories available online or in your local stores. But do you need all of them? or just a few. Well if you are a newbie I would suggest all you need is two below-given gears only.

Tripod or Gorillapod

Tripods and Gorillapod give stabilization to your mobile. A stabilized mobile is really important for low-light photography. If you are shooting at night and want to avoid handshake blur in your images, then you need a tripod or Gorillapod to stabilize your mobile and avoid all possible shakes.

A tripod also helps you with different angles.

If you think a tripod is bulky and you do not like to move around with such heavy equipment. You have other options of using Gorillapod, although the Gorillapod does not help you with the height because they are very small. But you can literally tie them anywhere. Like a tree on the road or a bridge railing or anywhere they can be hanged or tied because of the flexible legs.

A Gorillapod is small, flexible, and gives you great stabilization


Wireless trigger

Simple to use a wireless shutter release. In the easy words ” A remote ” for your mobile camera. This will allow you to click the images or videos wirelessly. It connects with your phone via Bluetooth with a simple pairing process.

When you are shooting on a tripod a wireless trigger will help you shoot without any shake. Because you can operate your mobile phone with a wireless remote, you are basically not touching your phone which means you can avoid shakes.


A right shooting mode as per the scene

If you are going to shoot with all the given AUTO modes, selecting the right mode as per your scene can help you achieve a better-looking image.

Most of the android systems will have below given modes.

  • Video mode
  • Photo mode
  • Portrait mode
  • Nightscape mode
  • PRO mode
  • Timelapse mode
  • Slow-motion mode
  • Panorama mode

I am sharing each mode’s screenshot and basic explanation of the functions below.

Mobile photography guide – VIDEO MODE

Video mode as the name suggest is used to record videos on your phone.

1 – Flash settings

2 – Video stabilization

3 – Frame per second (FPS)

4 – Video Quality

5 – Settings

6 – Zoom

7 – Front/back camera switch


Mobile photography guide – PHOTO MODE

Photo mode is an auto mode, which helps you shoot photos without any extra settings needed.

1 – Auto shooting timer

2 – Flash settings

3 – Shooting aspect ratio

4 – Settings

5 – Zoom

6 – Front/Back camera switch

7 – Google Lens


Mobile photography guide – PORTRAIT MODE

If you are looking for an image with good background blur behind your subjects, portrait mode is the mode you should be using.

1 – Auto shooting timer

2 – Beautify effect

3 – Settings

4 – Zoom

5 – Front/back camera switch


Mobile photography guide – NIGHTSCAPE MODE

For nighttime landscapes you should use nightscape mode, a tripod is recommended if you are shooting with nightscape mode.

1 – Auto shooting timer

2 – Tripod mode

3 – Shooting aspect ratio

4 – Settings

5 – Zoom


Mobile photography guide – PRO MODE

PRO mode is a mode where you can gain more control ( DSLR LIKE CONTROLS ) over your mobile camera. You can shoot RAW images as well for better quality prints and edits.

1 – Auto shooting timer

2 – Custom modes

3 – RAW or JPEG image quality

4 – Shooting aspect ratio

5 – Settings

6 – ISO settings

7 – White balance settings

8 – Shutter speed settings

9 – Exposure settings

10 – Auto or manual focus


Mobile photography guide – PANORAMA MODE

Panorama mode is used for an ultra-wide-angle capture. Like 360 degree captures. This mode basically stitches multiple images and creates one huge file with an ultra-wide-angle view.

1 – Guideline to help you shoot

2 – Settings


Mobile photography guide – TIMELAPSE MODE

Time lapse mode allows you to shoot a fast forward video. Which means it will compress a certain amount of minutes into certain seconds which creates amazing fast forward video effects. It is preferable to use a tripod for time lapse mode.

1 – Flash settings

2 – Video quality settings

3 – Settings

4 – Zoom

5 – Front/back camera switch


Mobile photography guide – SLOW MOTION MODE

Slow motion mode is simply opposite of time lapse. It will slow down your video and will give you a great looking cinematic slow motion effect on your video.

1 – Flash settings

2 – FPS settings

3 – Settings


Rule of thirds

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.

According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

WITHOUT FOLLOWING RULE OF THIRDS

WHILE FOLLOWING RULE OF THIRDS

Shot Angle

HIGH ANGLE MID ANGLE LOW ANGLE
– Makes you look short – Shows your actual height – Makes you look taller
– Not a great angle – Works for most situation – Always looks great
A low angle shot from my fashion shoot

PRO Mode

Pro mode helps you take your photography to next level. Pro mode in your mobile phone offers DSLR like functions and you gain a lot more control over the scene.

Using pro mode gives you more control but that also adds more complex settings. Although they are not so tough to learn it definitely takes some practice to learn and shoot with pro mode.

1 – Auto shooting timer

2 – Custom modes

3 – RAW or JPEG image quality

4 – Shooting aspect ratio

5 – Settings

6 – ISO settings

7 – White balance settings

8 – Shutter speed settings

9 – Exposure settings

10 – Auto or manual focus

Main pointers to learn in pro mode are as below

Aperture – Not all camera provides this option, but if your camera does allow you to change aperture value then this is how it works. Higher F-number = Less light & less background blur. Lower F-number = More light & more background blur.


Shutter speed – allows you to control the motion in your image. If you keep a faster shutter speed (eg. 1/5000) it will freeze any motion such as running or jumping people. If you keep a slower shutter speed (eg. 1/15) you will be able to produce a motion blur which means anything that is in motion will be blurred.


ISO – Iso settings helps you increase or decrease light by simply increasing or decreasing the iso number.


White balance ( WB ) – The purpose of white balance is to accurately incorporate the same neutral colors and tones seen by the naked eye into your photography. Although most smartphones have automatic white balance settings in your camera, customizing your own will enable you to take your photos to the next level.

If your phone does not have PRO mode or manual mode. The below-given app will give you the option on your phone

There are plenty of third-party apps on the market that makes manual shooting possible. We have some favorites that also allow RAW photographs for even more creative smartphone photography. You can read more about RAW photography with your mobile phone in the blog post: Benefits of shooting RAW

These are, in our opinion, the best third-party apps for manual shooting for Android phones:

Manual ISO, focus, shutter speed only works when your Android camera is camera2api enabled.



Understanding the light

Don’t shoot in the direct sunlight

Yes, normally we think shooting into direct sunlight gives us good light on our subjects. But actually it introduces unwanted shadows. Let me show you an example.

  • Front-lit – Not comfortable due to direct sunlight into eyes, unwanted shadows under nose and neck
  • Side lit – better than front lit but uneven light on the face
  • Backlit – good for outdoors when there is no shade available
  • Open shade – gives you soft even light on the entire face

I recommend finding an open shade if possible, otherwise keep the sun on the back and with the light lock you can increase the light on your subject and shoot some great looking images.


Always remember the more you shoot and the more you practice you will get better with your photography skills.

Published by

Varun

Varun Patel is big name when it comes to Fashion Industry. His work has been published in magazines like FTL, Femina and many others. He also conducts Fashion Photography Workshops and shares his knowledge with other photographers. He mostly shoots Fashion and Commercial Portraits, during his free time he also likes to experiment with the conceptual editorials.

3 thoughts on “MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE – By Varun Patel”

  1. Wow, super long blog on mobile photography. Indeed, we cannot able to carry the camera all the time. So, it’s better to learn some techniques to use the skill to capture photos almost of the same desired quality. You have detailed each and everything with pictures. So, it would be most useful for beginners. Thanks for sharing! Keep writing more on interesting topics!

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