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13 tips for making much better photos with your Android

Photography is one of the main uses for smartphones. When going on vacation or attending a party, many already open the traditional and bulky camera and take only smartphones. Even so, the results are not always satisfactory. With that in mind, we've come up with a list of tips for getting the most out of your Android device's camera.

Clean the lens

It sounds obvious, but no: finger fat can form a thin layer over the lens that will make your photos sharp or completely blurred. It is therefore good to clean the camera lens at regular intervals with a piece of soft cloth. A microfiber cloth is ideal, but if you don't have it you can use the corner of a cotton shirt. Be especially careful on the beach: grits of sand on the lens, even microscopes can scratch the glass.

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Keep your smartphone camera lens (or lenses) always clean / AndroidPIT

Enable manual focus

Almost every smartphone today has an autofocus system, and the best ones also offer an intelligent mode that selects the central subject for sharpness. Not always, however, does the software understand what we want with the photo and select the correct area. We therefore recommend that you enable Touch to Focus and manually focus each photo by clicking on the area you want to highlight.

This option is usually in camera settings, look for "Manual Focus", "Touch Focus" or "Touch to Focus".

Use both hands

It is common to see people trying to shoot with one hand, especially when taking popular selfies, but in most cases it is better to hold the smartphone with both hands, as a more stable camera produces much sharper pictures. An additional advice: to prevent hand shake, hold your breath before taking the picture. Another useful option is to rest your arms, hands, or smartphone on or on your own surface.

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Follow the smartphone with both hands to avoid blurry photos / AndroidPIT

Do not use digital zoom

Unlike most inexpensive cameras, most smartphones have only digital zoom. This is not a "real" zoom: the software only crops and enlarges an area of ​​the image to bring it closer, but the closer it gets, the sharper it is, the more often a blur of pixels.

That's why the rule of thumb for smartphones is: when you're too far from the scene, zoom in with your feet and get as close to it as you can. Digital zoom, only when no alternative.

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These examples show the difference between optical (left) and digital (center and right) zoom / ANDROIDPIT

Highlight the foreground to make the photo more interesting.

It is not necessary to take a course in photography or to follow to the letter a lot of rules: sometimes a good photo breaks all the rules of composition. Still, we have a rule that applies in almost every case. Any landscape or panoramas photo will be incredibly highlighted when an object appears in the foreground as it gives photo depth.

Use the rule of teros

This is a very simple and easy to understand rule: imagine that your image is divided into three equal parts (or "teros") by two horizontal and vertical lines. The photo will be more attractive and interesting if you place the highlight object, or "subject", along or at the intersection of these lines, which will give your photo a harmonic composition. Some smartphones even have the function of making these lines visible, perhaps called "grid" or "guide lines". Take a look at the camera settings.

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The rule of thirds in action: The main point of the photo (the "clearing" at the end of the road) is along the second, vertical, right line. / John R. Daily / Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa 2.5)

Straighten the horizon

A "crooked" horizon in landscape photos undermines the composition and our overall impression of the image. When you have a direct view of the horizon, orient yourself through a reference line or the corners of the screen to "straighten out" the camera and make sure it is level.

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In this example, the foreground plan in the left third of the frame gives the image depth. The sloping horizon, however, disturbs the harmony of the composition. / ANDROIDPIT

Attention to the light

Light is a photographer's best friend, and also the worst enemy, and that's especially true for smartphones. Before taking the picture, be careful to avoid intense shadows or backlight (for example, shooting from the sun). In the latter case, using flash can help achieve a more balanced photo. However, whenever possible try to turn your back on the light source.

Better in the shade than in the sun

Sunlight on a cloudless day is not ideal for photos as it creates very "hard" shadows. The human eye may compensate for the difference in brightness, but smartphone cameras still fail in this task. For a beautiful portrait, therefore, better go to the shade or wait for the sun to be covered by clouds.

If you really need to shoot in the sun, keep your back to it (see rule above) and try activating the camera's HDR mode to compensate for the contrast difference between light and shadow.

Wait for the best time of day

Avoid shooting when the midday sun is high in the sky. Landscapes and panoramic photos of cities become more beautiful in the morning and at dusk, when the light turns golden and the long shadows highlight interesting aspects of the painting. Photographers even have a term for it: the "golden hour", the first hour just after dawn or just before dusk.

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The same scene in the midday sun and dusk. Did you notice the difference? / TudorTulok / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Flash? Only when really needed

The flash brings light into the darkness, but in most cases this cold, direct light impairs the natural atmosphere of the environment to be captured. The foreground lit without mercy, resulting in that "radiant total white" effect, and the background backdrop plunges into darkness.

Therefore, use the flash only if you really cannot shoot under ambient lighting conditions – even if you need to manually increase the ISO or exposure time. If your camera has a night mode, enable it. Even an image with a bit of noise is still preferable to another with a flash explosion.

Play with perspective

Most people take photos with their smartphones at their own eyes. But more interesting to look for other angles and change the perspective, for example kneeling to register an image. Especially in the case of children, photos are much better if they are taken with the camera at eye level.

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For this photo we chose a very close perspective of the ground, thus emphasizing the height of the buildings and the margin curve. / ANDROIDPIT

Correct Only Necessary

Using apps to enhance, correct or insert filters in photos can achieve effects that are impossible to achieve with just the camera. There are a number of powerful applications for this (we recommend Snapseed), but here is the moderation rule. Often images can look artificial if overworked. Make only the necessary corrections and adjustments.

And which of these tricks do you follow when capturing images with your Android camera?

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