There’s a good reason why photography is considered an art form. Anyone can point a lens in a random direction and press a button, but it takes time, knowledge, and practice to take a picture that truly looks good and professional. If you love taking pictures, but aren’t happy with how they turn out, or just want to learn how to get better at taking them; this is for you.
There are some simple rules that apply to all sections of photography that will improve your picture taking skills, and your picture quality. These rules and tips won’t turn your Android photos into award-winning works of art, but you won’t be embarrassed to show these photos to friends and family.
There aren’t any apps that will magically improve your photography skills, even though there are ones that help. However, by the end of this, you’ll know how to take good pictures with your Android device, and even with other cameras.
1. Understand the Tools You’re Working With
While good photography isn’t just down to how many megapixels your Android is packing, it does come into account. If your phone has a low end camera, then don’t expect to get the same picture quality that you’d get from a high-end camera.
With that said, a good craftsman can still make a work of art with low quality tools, just like an amateur can accidentally craft a train wreck from the best tools in the business. We’ve gone over what we think are the best Android phones on the market for taking good pictures, but don’t despair if your phone isn’t on that list!
You can learn how to take good pictures with your Android device, even if isn’t one of the latest and greatest that came out five minutes ago.
2. Don’t be Afraid of Your Settings
Depending on the Android device, and the version of Android you’re running; your camera settings are always going to be different. Currently, I’m using a lower tier device, so my options are limited, but I still have enough to give myself more control over taking pictures.
For example, even with my limited toolset, I can control camera focus, exposure, and internal brightness just with a few swipes. If your Android has even more camera options available, much like a Pro Mode, or separate balance sliders, don’t be afraid to play around with them.
3. Lighting Always Makes a Difference
If there’s something that Android phones, especially older models, have trouble with, it’s taking pictures in the dark. This can be true to some extent for all photography, but this problem seems to come up more with Android.
One simple way to increase the amount of light on your subject is with flash, but we’ll get to that later. If we’re in a controlled environment, it’s better to increase the light level around you instead of using your flash.
For an example, here are a few shots with low exposure and low lighting:
And then a few shots with mixed exposure and brighter lighting:
Even though these are taken with a lower quality camera, you can still see the difference that lighting can make. These sets of examples are close to extremes, so finding a happy medium is key. “Don’t take a picture in the dark” sounds like obvious advice, but it makes a big difference if you follow it.
4. Know When and When not to Use Your Flash
Flash photography brings light to your subject when you lack the means to control the light around you. It’s a pretty powerful tool, but unfortunately, the artificial light it provides doesn’t always balance properly. The quick burst of light surrounds your subject, but it creates a large amount of glare around them, or even on them.
So to prevent that, you need to know when to use flash, and when to just fool around with brightness and exposure. If you want to take a good picture with your Android, you need to understand all of the tools your device has available completely.
This doesn’t mean you need to use all seven modes your camera has all the time, but it does mean you need to use the best one for the right situation. Flash is great if you have no other option, or if the bright light won’t cause an irritating glare. The more you use flash, the more you’ll get a feel for when it’s appropriate, so just keep taking pictures!
5. Find the Right Angle
To piggyback off the last section, better lighting can be achieved using angles and add the right amount of light on your subject. Don’t be afraid to take a few extra seconds to get a better angle, not just because of lighting, but another side of your subject can make for a better shot.
What the “right” angle means is usually subjective. There’s no one angle to shoot for when taking a picture, so it’s all up to you on which one you like better out of all the shots you take. This could mean taking a picture on a different side of your subject, from up above, or even down below; it’s up to you, and depends on how much time you have for your shot.
6. Don’t Always Shoot for the Center
Even though Professor Oak always wants pictures with Pokémon centered in the frame; it makes for a pretty boring picture if you always have your subject front and center. Feel free to experiment with focus and angles to place your subject on far corners of the shot, or have them slightly askew.
Where you place your subject in the frame is left up to you, but there are certain photography techniques with more appealing subject placement than right in the center. I highly encourage you experiment with different angles, and subject placement if you only take pictures with your subject in the center.
You might not like the results right away, or even later on, but it’s at the very least you’ve earned more photography experience at the end of the day.
7. Digital Zoom is Not Your Friend
More often than not, zooming in with your Android device is going to give you a worse shot. The reason for this is that in most cases, all this does is blow up the shot as it zooms in. Your lens doesn’t have the power to magnify and keep the quality the same, so instead it’s more like zooming in on an existing picture until all you’re left with is a mess of pixels.
Here, let me show you what I mean with a few different zoom levels on the same subject:
How far your quality decreases is dependent on the megapixels, your camera has available. Since my camera is on the lower end, zooming in pretty much ruins the picture completely. So in this case, digital zoom doesn’t work for me on any level if I’m hoping for a passable shot.
This isn’t the same for every smartphone camera, so if you want to take good pictures with your Android, make sure you understand how much your digital zoom impacts picture quality.
So what can you do if your zoom feature doesn’t work the way you want it to? Well, the best thing to do is to move closer to your subject. It’s a low-tech solution, and one of the simplest in the book, but it works and gets results.
8. Make Sure to Hold Your Phone with Both Hands
This might sound silly when you think about it at first, but it’s better to use both of your hands while taking a picture. If you only have one hand on your phone, and it starts to shake, you’ll probably end up with a blurry shot that’s out of focus.
Some Android devices have an anti-shake feature built into their camera that you can toggle to help reduce this, but it’s better just to get used to holding your phone as steady as you can. If you can’t hold your phone steady, even with both hands, it’s best to enable this setting or find a solid surface to rest your phone again while taking a shot.
If your camera is a lower tier device like mine and doesn’t have any internal options to steady camera shake; there’s one trick you can try. If you just can’t keep your hands steady, try holding your breath for a few seconds as you take a picture. Just be careful not to hold your breath for too long, passing out isn’t worth a picture, no matter how good it is.
9. Take Your Time if You Have the Luxury
You’d have to be a born genius or technological wizard to be able to take a beautiful picture in just a second. Depending on your Android device, it takes a few seconds for your camera to focus after you line up what you think is the perfect shot. If you don’t give your Android the proper time to adjust and focus, you’ll end up with a mess that you’re better off deleting.
On the flipside of this, if you have the time, take as many shots of your subject as you can. Since you’re using a digital platform, you don’t need to worry about losing spots on your reel, so have at it!
If you take at least ten pictures of a subject, you may end up with nine duds, but the 10th will be something worth your extra time.
10. Take Proper Care of Your Lens
It’s not something that everyone thinks about, but the lens on the back of your Android can definitely get dirty, or even scratched. If you think that has a big impact on picture quality, then you’re dead right. In photography, the lens is the most expensive part, and you can’t take good pictures with Android without a good lens.
Cleaning your lens should be handled with care, and a soft cloth. If you own a cloth meant for cleaning glasses, or something similar, that’s more than enough to get the job done here. Do not, I repeat, do not use paper towels to clean your lens; you’ll end up scratching the surface.
If you don’t have a soft enough cloth, like one specifically meant for cleaning, or even the soft bottom of a shirt; do not attempt to clean your lens with anything else.
Taken any new pictures yet? If you have, you’ll see the improvement taking place in no time. As long as you apply rules like these to your pictures, and take your time, they’ll always turn out better than a shot with no time put into it.
It may take a few extra seconds to take a picture worth saving, but all of those seconds are well worth it when you’ll remember that picture for years to come.
Have any photography tips of your own to share, or any photo question? You can share either in the comments below!