Making better photos with a smartphone uses many of the same techniques and skills used with a conventional SLR or point-and-shoot camera: Composition, Lighting, Exposure, Timing. But there are a few things about taking photos with a phone that can be used in your favor. Composition – The shape of the viewfinder is similar to a 35mm, a bit more letterbox shape. Use and fill that shape when composing your photos. Look at everything in the viewfinder and move in closer if there are elements that detract from the subject. Then move in a little closer. Avoid using the digital zoom. Remember that it’s not really a zoom at all, it just isolates a portion of the frame, which can look pixilated in the final photo. Experiment with the many angles that a smart phone allows you to shoot: hold the camera high over your head or down to the ground for a different, often dramatic look. Lighting - Use the light to your advantage. Strong light from the behind the subject (like a bright window or the sun) may overpower the scene leaving lens flare and a grainy look. Front light is flat but neutral, side lighting is dramatic. Use the built-in flash to fill in shadows on a face when light is harsh (you can force it to flash even when there’s adequate light). A backlit subject where the light is not overpowering , coupled with using the flash, will create great results. Exposure - If you have an iPhone, experiment with the HDR (high dynamic range) setting . This is a tool that takes three photos when you hit the shutter (underexposed, overexposed, in the middle), balances them out, and can really help when lighting is harsh or contrasty. If your phone does not have that option, be careful where you’re pointing it. If the exposure sensor is pointed at a bright spot or a very dark area of the scene it will expose according to that area and possibly make the photo too bright or dark. Timing - Remember that there is a delay between the time you push the button and when the shutter actually takes the photo. Keep the camera steady until the shutter is tripped. Keeping the camera steady is really important. I often lean the camera against something to make sure there’s as little shake as possible, especially in low light. Make several exposures of the same photo if possible. Try panning with a moving subject in low light. There are many, many more ways to make better photos with your phone. We haven’t even touched on apps. Let me know your tips.
To keep the rich color of the sky at sunset I forced the flash on during the exposure and had the camera resting on the boat.