Common Mobile Photography Mistakes and How to Fix Them

If there’s one thing photographers of all experience levels agree upon, it can sometimes be tough to create a beautiful photograph with a mobile phone. Luckily, the most common photo fails are getting easier to fix as smartphone technology improves. Whether it’s simply wiping the lens of your camera phone, switching to the manual mode, or composing and or autofocusing, there are various fixes and hacks. Here are 8 of the most common issues with smartphone images and the easy changes you can make to fix each one.

The Finished Photo is Too Dark

A dark photo is usually the result of photographing with an ISO that is too low. ISO is a measure of how sensitive your camera is to light (exposure). So, in a low-light setting, you’ll want to keep your ISO setting higher to capture as much detail as possible.

To change the exposure in your smartphone camera, open the Camera app and focus the lens onto your subject. Tap the area of the screen in which your subject appears, and use the slider next to the sun or light bulb icon to increase or decrease the photo’s exposure.

The Angle from Which You’re Photographing is Too Low

Everyone who’s used the “face time” feature on their phone or computer knows that most images taken from below eye level are somewhat unflattering. Keep the lens above the subjects’ faces to help them look their best in the final images.

Your Subjects are Different Distances Away From You

“Depth of field” is a photography concept that describes the distance between the nearest and furthest objects from the camera lens. Although you could capture everyone in sharp focus by using a smaller aperture on a DSLR camera, it’s even easier to fix with a mobile phone. If you’re photographing two or more things that should be in sharp focus, simply position them along the same plane when the photograph is taken. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a two people together, picture both of their noses pressing up against the same, invisible pane of glass. That will ensure that their facial features can be captured in the same amount of detail.

Your Shutter Speed is Too Slow to Capture Fast Motion

Whether you’re photographing a squirmy pet or your child’s soccer game, quick motions taken with a slow shutter speed can often turn out blurry. Some smartphones (like the iPhone 7) automatically adjust shutter speed with changing light conditions, so if you’d like full control over this and other settings, download the Camera + app.

Quick note, though: When increasing your shutter speed, you’ll want to make sure your camera is held extremely still while it’s capturing the photo. If you’re doing a lot of fast-motion photography, consider investing in an inexpensive camera phone tripod to help you out.

Too Little or Too much Contrast

If you find that the spectrum of light that you see with your naked eye is greater than the detail captured in the photo, it’s most likely due to a lack of contrast. Fixing the contrast in your photo is easier than it’s ever been before. Most smartphone camera applications have easy ways to expose photos correctly, as do desktop programs like Lightroom. If your photo is still too bright and lacking in definition, try shooting your photo with a jacket or a blanket over top of you to reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the lens.

Your Horizon is Crooked

Even if you feel like you’re standing on even ground, it’s easy to accidentally take a photograph in which the horizon isn’t perfectly straight. Rotate the photo in your camera app to make sure the image is exactly how nature intended. You’d be surprised how big of an improvement this makes in the final composition!

Your Photo Looks Pixelated in Print

All photos are made of pixels, or tiny squares of color. When a photo has too few of them, the photo looks less realistic. The more pixels a photo has, the higher its resolution. Higher resolution photos look sharp, clear, and true-to-life. Resolution is reduced when you use a digital zoom feature or when you crop a photo. Keep this in mind when printing photos from your phone: Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages!

This is a guest blog post from Nations Photo Lab