Smartphone photography: 3 things you need to know

Tech Tips

Best tips smartphone photography

There’s a saying that goes “the best camera is the one you have with you.” More than likely, that camera is your smartphone. Today’s phones have pretty remarkable photo capabilities, with resolutions of up to 12 megapixels and built-in stabilizers that can help minimize blur from shaky hands. Whether it’s a pic of your travels, your pet, or what you had for lunch, smartphones have become our main instrument for capturing memorable moments.

Our Explained series helps you get the most out of your tech and makes life just a little bit easier. Today we’re talking about how to take the best pictures on your smartphone, how to upload and transfer them to your other tech devices, and how to backup your phone photos.

How to capture the best photos with your phone

Draw attention to the most important part of your pic with the rule of thirds

Great photo composition starts with something called the rule of thirds. A tried and true photography technique, the rule of thirds divides your photo into parts to help you create an interesting frame for your subject. Here’s how it works:

Tips for taking better photos with your smartphone
  1. Turn on your phone’s grid feature.
    • Open Settings > Camera and turn on Grid (may also be called Grid Lines).
    • Now, when you open your camera, you’ll see a screen that looks like a tic-tac-toe board.
  2. Set up the Frame.
    • Use the four grid lines as a guide to help you position the most important person or object in the photo. Either place your subject on one of the lines or on the areas where the lines intersect
  3. Now you’re all set to snap your photograph masterpiece!

How to avoid dark or washed out photos

A great photo is all about lighting. The simplest way to manage the amount of light in your photo is to adjust your camera’s exposure. You can manually control the exposure by doing the following:

  1. Tap the subject of your photo.
  2. Tap the Sunshine icon.
  3. Move the slider up or down to increase or decrease the amount of light in your photo.

Another option to ensure proper lighting and crisp focus is to use the AE/AF Lock feature. AE stands for Auto Exposure, while AF stands for Auto Focus. Here’s how to use this feature:

How to use AF/AE lock on your phone
  1. Set the focus point of your photo by tapping the subject manually on your screen.
  2. Next, press and hold the subject in your photo until the AE/AF Lock icon appears, and then release your finger. Doing so locks in your photo settings, keeping the camera’s autofocus system from kicking in if something was to move within your scene.
  3. AE/AF Lock will remain locked even after you’ve taken your photo, making it easy to take multiple pics without having to redo your settings for each shot. To turn the lock off, just tap on another part of the screen.

How to easily edit photos taken with your phone

Best apps for editing photos

Have you ever taken a photo thinking that the lighting and composition was great, only to review it and find out it didn’t turn out quite how you hoped? It happens to all of us. Luckily, there are apps that help you to easily create your photograph masterpiece. Here are two of our favorites (best part is, they’re free!):

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Snapseed is a fantastic, easy-to-use photo editing app. With nearly 30 different tools and filters available, you can touch up everything from lighting and cropping, to removing unwanted elements from your photo with the Healing tool.

Another great option is Pixlr. In addition to making quick image adjustments, Pixlr can be used to draw on your photos and add text, and make photo collages. With plenty of editing options, it’s a great tool for both iPhone and Android users.

How to backup the photos on your phone

Download photos from your iPhone to your Mac:

  1. Connect your phone to your computer with Apple’s charging cable.
  2. Unlock your phone. If you see a pop-up asking if you want to Trust This Computer, tap Trust.
  3. Open the Photos app on your computer and click your iPhone in the left-side devices menu.
  4. Click the pictures you want to import, then click Import Selected. To download all the pictures from your phone, click Import All.

Download photos from your iPhone to your PC:

  1. Connect your phone to your computer with Apple’s charging cable.
  2. Unlock your phone. If you see a pop-up asking if you want to Trust This Computer, tap Trust.
  3. On your computer, open My Computer, and then double-click your iPhone in the left sidebar.
  4. Double-click the DCIM folder, and a series of Apple folders will appear.
  5. Click through the folders to find the pictures you want to save. Drag and drop the folder or individual photos to a destination on your hard drive.

Save your photos to the cloud

Backing up your photos in a folder on your computer’s hard drive is a great idea, but there is always the possibility that your computer could get damaged. That’s why we recommend backing up to a cloud-based service like iCloud or Google Photos. Learn more about iCloud and its many uses here.

Can I use Google Photos on my iPhone?

Good news! Yes, you can. Download the app from the App Store.

Google Photos organizes your photos and backs them up in a secure online location. This makes them accessible from any device, whether iOS or Android, and if you ever move to a new phone, your photos and videos will automatically come along with you.

Once your photos and videos are backed up, you’ll also be able to free up some valuable storage space on your phone.

How to backup and sync your photos with Google Photos

Before we get started, make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi and plugged in, since this process can use up a lot of battery and data.

  1. Download and open the Google Photos app.
  2. Tap Get Started. Sign in or create a new account.
  3. Turn on Back up and sync and then tap Change settings.
  4. To choose backup quality, select High quality or OriginalHigh quality means your photos will be compressed to a lower resolution and you’ll enjoy unlimited free storage. Original quality means they’ll remain in their original resolution, but you’ll have a limited amount of free storage.
  5. If you want backups to occur even when you’re not on Wi-Fi, select Use cellular data to back up. Then tap Save > Done.
  6. Tap Assistant to see your progress. You’ll know it’s finished when you see Backup complete.
  7. Tap Photos at the bottom to view your gallery.

Now you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your photos and videos are safely backed up and accessible from any device!

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