take higher smartphone pictures

take higher smartphone pictures

August 25, 2022

Prime smartphone photographer, instructor and creator Jo Bradford shares some ideas for higher smartphone pictures that transcend the predictable with Geoff Harris

Books on smartphone pictures are (virtually) ten a penny, however Jo Bradford is internationally recognised as an authority on the topic. Jo’s first ebook, Sensible Telephone, Sensible Pictures, was revealed in 2018, and since then she’s turn into a daily fixture on the digicam membership circuit, in addition to working workshops for the RPS and showing on the judging panels of a number of prestigious competitions.

Sensible Telephone, Sensible Pictures was the primary ebook about smartphone pictures to prime the digital pictures best-selling ebook lists on Waterstones and Amazon,’ Jo notes with justifiable satisfaction. ‘Once I wrote that ebook I used to be not satisfied that anybody would purchase a ebook about telephone pictures – however it remained a finest vendor for 4 years!’

Jo’s newest ebook, Sensible Images: 52 Concepts to Take Your Smartphone Pictures to the Subsequent Degree, is stuffed with intriguing and authentic concepts for smartphone pictures past the apparent. From panning to pinhole, and will assist convert any final remaining smartphone pictures sceptics. We caught up with Jo to get some knowledgeable recommendation for higher smartphone pictures, together with handset alternative and the modifying aspect.

‘Yearly extra folks embrace smartphones, however the largest change I’ve seen since my first ebook is the rise of algorithms and computational pictures,’ Jo observes. ‘In addition to highly effective picture processing, the most recent iPhones and Android telephones have very efficient night time modes, for instance. The algorithms are utilizing the picture knowledge in a way more clever means. The {hardware} is approaching in leaps and bounds, too, and also you’re seeing a number of handsets with three, even 5, cameras on the again.’

A painterly scene was created by panning handheld with a slow shutter app on an iPhone 11 Pro Max. Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall. smartphone photos

A painterly scene was created by panning handheld with a sluggish shutter app on an iPhone 11 Professional Max. Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall. Picture: Jo Bradford

Fixing issues

Jo wrote the brand new ebook to point out simply how inventive smartphones will be, pushing the boundaries of how they’re principally used – usually for selfies, avenue candids and standard landscapes. ‘I nonetheless shoot with analogue and digital cameras, however I discover myself reaching for my telephone increasingly in my skilled work,’ she explains.

‘I wished to point out simply how highly effective smartphones will be when mixed with inventive pondering and a little bit of know-how. So, I began to take a look at extra complicated photos that individuals make with typical cameras, resembling picture stacking and panning, and discover how you are able to do it on a telephone. The enjoyable is within the creativity – making an attempt to do one thing completely different and drawback fixing.’

Folks with very completely different talent ranges can nonetheless get good photos from smartphones, which is a giant a part of their enchantment for Jo. ‘More often than not even whole newcomers will get a shot with a telephone, however past that, there are many methods to get more- subtle outcomes – as an example, by utilizing superior apps, utilizing the telephone cameras in guide mode to manage publicity, and so forth.’

The uncooked debate

With algorithms now so superior, usually producing completely uncovered photos straight from the telephone, is there nonetheless a lot level bypassing them and capturing in uncooked? ‘I do shoot in uncooked however save out the pictures as a TIFF quite than a JPEG,’ Jo explains. ‘The apps I exploit – Second, Halide or Digicam Professional – allow me to do that.

All the pieces I produce will both be printed or exhibited, which is why I desire TIFF. As you say, while you shoot uncooked in your telephone it permits plenty of flexibility on the modifying stage, however it does override the customarily wonderful JPEG algorithms that makers have spent some huge cash growing.

studio portrait of a girl photographed on smartphone using studio lighting set to red

Shot in a studio utilizing an iPhone 11 Professional Max, with lighting supplied by two torches lined in colored cellophane recycled from candy wrappers. Picture: Jo Bradford

‘You will get nice high quality in your pictures without having to shoot uncooked, nevertheless. Should you stack photos when capturing in low mild, utilizing an app like Sluggish Shutter Cam, it may be an effective way to cut back noise. Because the noise is randomly generated in every picture, when the app stacks them, the noise is robotically eliminated.

You may find yourself having the ability to print actually massive – I am going on stage at The Pictures Present and invite folks to return and ‘pixel peep’ at my prints. Even with pictures taken on an older iPhone, there’s hardly any picture degradation. So don’t really feel compelled to shoot uncooked, however it’s effectively value making an attempt – there’s a raw-editing software in Snapseed too, which robotically opens when it recognises the file.’

Modifying smartphone pictures and Instagram

This author is responsible of sticking with a really small toolbox of modifying apps, primarily VSCO and Snapseed, and I’m not alone. Jo is eager that everybody ought to be a bit extra adventurous. ‘Snapseed is superb, I wrote an entire ebook about it, however there are many different, extra specialised apps on the market. Snapseed has a really fundamental retouching perform, for instance, so you need to use TouchRetouch for higher outcomes – or you’ll be able to attempt SKRWT for fine-tuning leaning-in strains and perspective.

I’m additionally a giant fan of modifying on my pill, which supplies you extra room to edit. VSCO’s movie simulations are nice too, significantly with black & white, although you usually must dial the filter results down a bit. Sluggish Shutter Cam for iPhone can be unbelievable for lengthy exposures and picture stacking.’

night scene on the beach overlooking a pink and blue firework display

Sluggish shutter apps, or Dwell mode, are nice for capturing extra of the sunshine show at fireworks reveals. Utilizing this technique you’ll be able to seize the vertical mild that precedes the principle burst of color, too. Shot on an iPhone 13 Professional Max. Picture: Jo Bradford

Instagram is the default sharing platform for a lot of smartphone photographers, and Jo has some attention-grabbing observations on the way it tends for use. ‘A variety of Instagram customers turn into obsessive about gaining likes and followers, so that you begin to see a number of related type of footage on there.

As inventive photographers, we ought to be modern and discover our personal voice, not simply emulate different stuff on Instagram – the usual filters could make a number of photos look fairly samey too. Folks need outcomes rapidly, nevertheless, and don’t all the time need to put within the time. That is what separates severe smartphone photographers from snappers and hobbyists.’

Learn how to make use of social media as a photographer right here.

The optical problem

With regards to future technological developments for smartphones, Jo is eager for extra choices to manage depth of discipline optically, quite than digitally. ‘I’d actually prefer to see a wider vary of better-quality lenses for smartphones. It’ll be attention-grabbing to see the place we’re in 5 years – whether or not the makers are nonetheless making an attempt to resolve all the pieces by algorithms, or return to discovering an optical resolution. Picture stabilisation and low-light dealing with are getting higher too (see the brand new Evening mode on iPhones). Once more although, it’s doing the identical factor, capturing plenty of pictures in fast succession and placing all of them collectively. It’s the optical aspect that also lets smartphones down.’

Although clip-on lenses gave the impression to be dying out, Jo reckons they’re rising once more in recognition, particularly the better-quality ones. ‘I discover the lenses from Second particularly are nice. They don’t seem to be simple to pay money for within the UK, and comparatively costly, however they function lovely glass and really low aberration. With the Moments macro and wideangle lenses, you don’t get that overprocessed look you generally find yourself with when the algorithms attempt to emulate optical lens results.’

Evangelist sure, zealot no

Jo offers plenty of talks and lectures and enjoys difficult traditionalists who nonetheless don’t consider telephones are as much as the job of inventive pictures. ‘Sure, there are nonetheless areas that telephones want to enhance on, resembling astrophotography and underwater photographs.For the ebook, I acquired Rob Layton to share his strategies for underwater, for instance, as he has a extra specialised data, so I wished to share his knowledge.

However a number of anti-phone folks find yourself being my largest converts after they see what will be achieved. A variety of older photographers aren’t eager on lugging round heavy typical cameras and plenty of lenses, both, which is the place telephones actually are available. It’s virtually as if they need “permission” to make use of smartphones.’

To conclude, it shouldn’t be assumed that Jo is a few type of anti-camera zealot. ‘I really like my typical cameras – mirrorless, DSLRs, and my previous movie gear. I’m a giant fan of printing my very own analogue/movie pictures in my color darkroom, and I exhibit and promote analogue fine-art pictures in galleries around the globe. As for lenses, for now, nothing beats a giant, lovely piece of hand-ground glass. I might hate to see telephones trigger the demise of all this. For sure genres, resembling avenue pictures, I consider smartphones are the only option, however for a portrait in a studio, you’ll nonetheless be higher off with a “correct” digicam and lighting rig. It’s about selecting the best software for the job.’

Enjoyable with freelensing

Ferns photographed with the Samsung Galaxy S21’s camera’s telephoto lens

Ferns photographed with the Samsung Galaxy S21’s digicam’s telephoto lens chosen. A small removable smartphone macro lens was held in entrance of the digicam to provide a shallow depth of discipline, thereby creating pleasing background blur. Picture: Jo Bradford

‘I actually take pleasure in freelensing, which is an effective way to play with any of your previous lenses – a normal 50mm prime lens, for instance,’ says Jo. ‘You want a tripod to carry the telephone whilst you experiment with the digicam and lens combos.’

1. Choose a telephone digicam lens – the usual and telephoto lenses in your smartphone work finest for freelensing. You might be merely handholding the lens close to the digicam, and making an attempt to look by the additional lens.

2. Place your exterior lens in entrance of the telephone digicam and compose your picture. Practise discovering focus and lining the lens up so as to’t see the black edges of the lens housing in your body.

3. No tripod? Not an issue. You can too connect one finish of the lens to the highest of your smartphone with a chunk of tape. This can maintain it roughly in the suitable place so as to transfer the lens up and down and left and proper with out shedding it. Experiment with varied completely different lens combos till you get the outcomes that you’re proud of.

Rembrandt lighting

rembrandt style portrait of a young blonde girl smartphone photos

Shot in a studio with an iPhone 13 Professional Max and a Badger Beam mild, with a barn-door mild modifier from Interfit. Picture: Jo Bradford

On this approach, named after the Dutch Outdated Grasp, a topic’s face is half-lit, with a triangle of sunshine showing on the shadowed aspect of the face. ‘It’s simple to realize along with your telephone and some family props,’ says Jo. ‘The bottom of the triangle ought to sit throughout the highest of the attention, extending alongside the aspect of the nostril on one aspect and the cheekbone on the opposite, with the purpose sitting roughly on the sting of the lip.’

1 Arrange your backdrop. It must be non-distracting and take in quite than replicate mild. Use a darkish gray studio backdrop roll or a big piece of darkish material or board. For a textured, classical look, paint the board in a darkish shade or hue with seen brushstrokes.

2 In a darkened room, place the sunshine excessive on one aspect of the topic’s face and produce the sunshine ahead till the triangle seems. Modify the sunshine till the triangle is in the suitable place on the topic’s face.

3 Use the telephoto lens in your digicam. Drag the publicity right down to darken the picture, making a silhouette. You’ll discover the publicity perform in your smartphone while you faucet to focus.

Prime ideas for making your smartphone pictures standout

Jo’s recommendation for smartphone pictures:

Handset alternative

‘My favorite handset continues to be the iPhone – I exploit the iPhone 13 Professional Max. Huawei telephones are nice for zooming and there are some actually good Android telephones, however iPhone photos don’t look so overprocessed by the algorithms.’

The facility of contact

‘When doing talks I ask how many individuals contact the display to focus or set publicity, and few do. That is actually vital as you’re taking inventive management. It’s essential to get past the point-and-shoot mentality with smartphones.’

After get together

a girl peering her eye through a hole in bubble wrap smartphone photos

Picture: Jo Bradford

‘Picture seize is only one component. How will you craft the picture afterwards? I stack pictures, print them, make collages, throw paint at them, experiment with family props. Don’t be afraid to play along with your smartphone pictures.’

Make the grade

poppy seed head close up

Picture: Jo Bradford

‘It’s truly very easy to do your individual color grading, which actually makes your photos stand out. I’ve proven folks find out how to get the Edward Weston look, for instance, quite than simply counting on the usual Instagram filters and getting the identical previous look.’

Third-party lighting

‘Interfit’s Badger Beam, a flexible LED video and picture mild, is an effective entry-level lighting set-up – it additionally has some nice equipment resembling color gels. I additionally experiment with making my very own colored lights utilizing candy wrappers and a small torch.’

Instagram/assembly Jo

instagram grid of a variety of smartphone photos

Picture: Jo Bradford

‘Don’t simply ape what’s trending on Instagram – take into consideration growing your individual photographic fashion. I will probably be speaking on three levels on the Pictures Present on the NEC on Saturday 17 September, and will probably be doing ebook signings there.’

Extra ideas from Callum McInerney-Riley:

Use the grid for composition

And not using a viewfinder, it may be tough to compose your photographs and get all the pieces evenly inside the body. Turning on gridlines in your digicam app settings may help you with composition and make sure you don’t must crop an excessive amount of in post-production.

Use your major digicam and take a look at guide digicam mode

Lots of the newest smartphones have an array of cameras with completely different makes use of. Whereas the telephoto lens may get you nearer to the motion, it often depends on an inferior sensor or lens to your major digicam. Follow the principle unit for the most effective outcomes.

Many smartphones assist you to shoot with guide controls. Typically, it’s known as one thing like ‘Professional’ mode while you launch your smartphone’s default digicam app. Should you don’t have this, you’ll be able to all the time use a third-party app resembling Adobe Lightroom Cellular or ProShot, which is offered on each IOS and Android. Utilizing guide mode provides you with extra management compared to the automated modes.

rocky landscape over looking a bay in Ibiza with sailing boats. smartphone photos

I all the time try to work a little bit of color science into my edits. This orange and blue edit works so effectively collectively and brings again nice recollections of Ibiza. Picture: Callum McInerney-Riley

Use spot metering

For velocity, use spot metering, touching the attention-grabbing space you need to expose for – tapping areas of brilliant sky or shadowy foreground parts will guarantee your publicity is sweet. You may alter the remainder of the picture in post-production however you’ll be able to’t get again image info in a blown-out sky.

Edit creatively

Your fashion is subjective and you are able to do what you want with the picture after you have captured it. Nonetheless, adjusting highlights, shadows, publicity and manipulating colors, sharpening, distinction and tonality will all make your picture pop. Be playful with modifying and discover a look you actually like.

There are a number of apps out there however usually, I desire Adobe Lightroom Cellular. I like the way in which it syncs to Lightroom CC on my laptop computer and I can view my photos on a giant display and tweak them earlier than I share them. Snapseed and Adobe Photoshop cell are additionally unbelievable and can work simply as effectively. Modifying will assist you to profit from golden daylight, deliver out element in skies, improve the colors and be inventive.

cathedral in golden sunset light smartphone photo

Utilizing the Xperia 5 II’s Professional Digicam App, I used to be in a position to shoot with a sluggish shutter velocity and preserve the ISO low. That’s given me most dynamic vary and a superb high quality uncooked file for modifying this ultimate picture. Picture: Callum McInerney-Riley

Search for mild

You may have probably the most technical know-how and the most effective package on the planet… but when your scene is boring and the sunshine is ‘dangerous,’ your picture will probably be uninspiring. First mild and even earlier than is nice for journey pictures as locations are often much less crowded and the sunshine is often good.

The late night has nice potential too. Discover good mild, take nice photos – it’s a really fundamental tenet of pictures however with out it, your photographs are going to be uninteresting.

The very best apps for smartphone pictures

Jo has tried a really broad alternative of apps, however these are her present favourites for capturing and modifying, masking iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.

Greatest apps for capturing smartphone pictures:

  • Professional Digicam by Cocologics (iOS): Very dependable and presents guide features.
  • Halide Mark II – Professional Digicam (iOS): An App Retailer Editor’s Selection, that is an award-winning highly effective guide digicam.
  • Sluggish Shutter Cam (iOS): My go-to app for making lengthy exposures and light-weight trails. I additionally like utilizing the intelligent stacking perform to cope with low-light capturing and associated noise points.
  • FOCOS (iOS and Android): A intelligent app for capturing and modifying that allows you to mimic a big selection of lens results and depth of discipline. Experiment with the aperture shapes over mild to create lovely bokeh.
  • Professional Digicam by Second (iOS and Android): One other app for guide controls and lengthy exposures, with fast entry to the settings and lots of options of a DSLR.

screenshot photo of the best apps for taking and editing smartphone photos

Greatest apps or modifying smartphone pictures:

  • Snapseed (iOS and Android): An amazing all-rounder for fundamental modifying, with superior options like double exposures.
  • SKRWT (iOS and Android): An amazing app for adjusting points with lens distortions and converging verticals, enabling you to edit with extra precision.
  • TouchRetouch (iOS and Android): An excellent app for eradicating undesirable bits in your pictures, leaving you with a cleaner look!
  • LD (iOS and Android): Improve your pictures with lovely mild and chic overlays.
  • VSCO (iOS and Android): That is an modifying app and photo-sharing platform, which mixes lovely presets and premium-quality filters resembling basic movie kinds.
  • Affinity Photograph (iPad): This looks like a completely fledged desktop modifying software, however with the liberty to go anyplace.

See extra smartphone pictures apps right here.

Greatest Smartphone Cameras for pictures

There’s a number of alternative on the market, however listed below are a few of our favourites for severe pictures

Google Pixel 6 Professional

  • From £849
  • 3 lenses, together with telephoto
  • Android
  • Portrait mode

See our Google Pixel 6 Professional overview right here.

Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone in hand

OnePlus 8 Professional

  • Triple-lens set-up
  • Makes use of Android with Oxygen OS ‘pores and skin’
  • Good worth
  • Vary of colors

An amazing telephone total with a 48-million-pixel major digicam and unbelievable dynamic vary, check out our full overview.

iPhone 13 Professional

  • From £949
  • 3 lenses, together with telephoto
  • iOS
  • Portrait mode

Learn our full iPhone 13 Professional overview

iPhone 13 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely

  • From £1,149
  • 4 lenses, together with two telephotos
  • Android
  • Professional mode with uncooked capturing
  • Upto 8K video recording
  • Portrait mode

Learn our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely overview to see what the smartphone is cable of.

See extra of the most effective smartphones for pictures in 2022 right here.

Learn extra of our smartphone evaluations right here: Smartphone Evaluations

Jo Bradford

portrait of smartphone photographer Jo Bradford

Jo is a broadly revealed photographer who runs workshops and programs on pictures and modifying. She additionally lectures at at Falmouth College. See www.greenislandstudios.co.uk and Instagram: @greenislandstudios

smartphone photos guide book

Sensible Images: 52 Concepts to Take Your Smartphone Pictures to the Subsequent Degree is revealed by White Lion. It’s out there from a variety of booksellers – go to www.quarto.com

Callum McInerney-Riley

A eager photographer for over 15 years, Callum McInerney-Riley is a former Technical Author on Newbie Photographer. He now runs an organization that creates pictures and video content material for a number of enormous manufacturers. See his web site right here.

Discovered this text useful? Why not additionally try our avenue, portrait and macro smartphone pictures guides.

Need the prospect to be featured right here on our web site and throughout our social media? All it’s a must to do is share your images taken on a smartphone on social media tagging #APSmartphonePicoftheWeek. You can too ship in images to [email protected] with “Smartphone Pic of the Week” within the topic line.

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