Monday, August 15, 2022


Phone Photography Tip #6: It’s all about the light

Welcome back to “Getting The Most From Your Smartphone Photos.” Each week, we look at an easy-to-use tip that will take your “unshareable” cell phone pictures and turn them into photos you’d be proud to hang on the wall of your RV.

This week’s smartphone photo tip involves working with light. Without light, there is no photo. Learning to properly utilize your light sources will cut down on your bad pics, and give you some stunning results.

Tip #6: It’s all about the light

Smartphones got their name because they are pretty darn smart. In most photo-taking situations, they can overcome the user’s mistakes and still deliver great results.

Yet one area where smartphones still struggle a bit is light management. Your cell phone camera, just like your eyes, takes in available light and compensates and adjusts where it can to deliver a usable image. But all that adjusting can lead to problems.

A bright background

We’ve all taken this shot. Your subject is positioned between you and a bright, sunlit window. Your phone camera always tries to first adjust its exposure for the brightest area in the frame. And you end up with a perfectly exposed shot of whatever is outside the window, but your subject is in the dark.

The best way to avoid this is to move your subject away from the window. It could also be a simple matter of you moving to a different angle to remove the window from the background. Some newer smartphones will allow you to change your exposure before you take the shot, giving you a better chance for a properly exposed subject. The tradeoff to that method is that the windows in the background will be “blown out” to white. Not a good look.

The dreaded red eye

Smartphone photographers are famous for taking pictures of people and pets with demon-like red eyes. It only happens when you use the phone camera’s flash function. The problem is due to the fact that the flash on your phone is only a couple of millimeters from the camera lens. In effect, the flash is reflecting on the back of the retinas in your subject’s eyes, and the reflection is being captured as “red eye” in the photo.

The best fix is to avoid using the camera flash as a light source. Move to a window or use available lamp light to light your subject. If red eye can’t be avoided, use the camera’s photo editing function to try to remove it. On iPhones, just open the photo, click EDIT in the upper right corner, and then click on the eye icon in the upper right. Position the target over the red eyes and the software will do its best to fix things.

Here comes the sun…

In photography, nothing beats shooting with natural light. But it’s important to make the sun your friend. Don’t shoot “into” the sun. You’ll get all sorts of goofy streaks and colors, and your camera will again be confused about the actual exposure you want. A good rule when shooting outside is to keep the sun behind you or to the side and shining on your subject.

LAST WEEK’S TIP: “Avoid Your Digital Zoom”
NEXT WEEK’S TIP: “Tap Your Screen For Better Focus”

Mike Gast was the Vice President of Communications for Kampgrounds of America, Inc. for the past 20 years. Now, he’s the News Editor for His series of cell phone photo tips come from a lot of trial and error after 50 years of taking good (and also very bad) photos.



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