5 tips on how to take better photos with your mobile device

Be it a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or even MP3 player, most mobile devices these days are equipped with a built-in camera. With that said, these integrated cameras are lacking in features that dedicated cameras have – optical zoom and full exposure control, for example – resulting in lower quality images than you would get from a proper digital camera. There are, however, some tips you can follow that will help you get the best photos possible from your mobile device.

Don’t zoom

Photo Editing SoftwareUnlike dedicated digital cameras which usually offer optical zoom, the cameras built into smartphones and tablets only have digital zoom. What’s the difference? In a nutshell, optical zoom uses the camera’s lens to magnify the subject; digital zoom, on the other hand, simply captures the scene you see from the viewfinder and enlarges it digitally – similar to zooming in on an image from your computer – so photos that have been captured using digital zoom will often look pixelated and be very low quality. So, to capture better photos from your mobile device, avoid the digital zoom and physically move in on your subject. If you can’t get close enough to your subject, consider using photo editing software, like Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate, to crop you image later.

Avoid washouts

The LED flash that many mobile devices use will cause your subject to look washed out, making for a very unattractive photo. Go into your device’s settings and turn off the auto flash option. Whenever possible, use natural lighting within your photo. If you’re shooting indoors, position your subject near a window or open door. When capturing photos outdoors, try to avoid shooting when the sun is at its highest as this will produce harsh shadows; instead, try shooting just after the sun rises or an hour or so before it sets (photographers call this the magic hour). Cloudy days are also great for capturing outdoor photos, as the overcast sky softens the lighting.

Offer support

iPhone AccessoriesTo avoid blurry images, it’s important to keep your mobile device as still as possible. To help steady your device, rest your arms on a table or other stationary object – I even go as far as holding my breath when I’m composing/shooting. You can also purchase accessories that will help you avoid camera shake. The Belkin LiveAction Camera Grip, for example, attaches to your iPhone or iPod touch and features a tripod mount which enables users to attach their device to any standard camera tripod.

Keep it clean

Disposable Cleaning Wipes for Electronics Thanks to their portability and numerous features, mobile devices are with us pretty much everywhere we go. Because of this, they’re often jammed in our pockets, tossed in our bags, wedged between the cushions of the couch, whatever. The problem? The lens is going to get fingerprints, smudges, dust, dirt, grime, and other nastiness on it which will show up on your images. Before you start snapping photos, take a second to clean the lens, preferably with a microfiber cleaning cloth or wipes like the Clorox Electronics Cleaning Wipes.

Follow the rules

To capture decent photos with your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, you should keep some basic composition techniques in mind, such as:

  • The Rule of Thirds. When framing your shot, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid on your screen. Move your device so your main focal point is positioned on one of the intersecting lines of the invisible grid. Failing that, have your subject positioned along one of the four lines.

  • Compose your shot from different angles. For a unique perspective and for more interesting photos, try composing your shots so you’re looking up or down on your subject. If you’re photographing pets or babies, get down on the floor to shoot at their eye level.

  • Consider your background. Attention will be drawn away from your subject if your photo has a distracting background, so make sure to position yourself, and your subject, so there isn’t much behind them. Another way to eliminate background clutter is to simply fill your frame with your subject – doing so will also help highlight interesting texture and detail within your shot.

What steps do you take to ensure you’re getting the best photos possible with your mobile device? Leave a comment to share your tips!

[Top image credit: Dave Lawler]

Rhonda Callow is an award-winning freelance blogger and editor who has worked with numerous leading high-tech companies. She also helps companies with their public relations and social media management. Rhonda is a photography enthusiast and enjoys camping and hiking with her family during her free time. You can follow Rhonda on Twitter (@rhondacallow) or contact her at rhondacallow@gmail.com.

By Rhonda

January 16, 2013