How to capture stunning pictures and videos using any smartphone!

Photography does not require professional quality tools anymore. With insane development in Smartphone camera technology, and with phones like the Google pixel, iPhone XS, or Note 9 being made, there is absolutely no need for you to have any additional camera gear to produce stunning photos.

You don't even have to get an expensive flagship to produce great quality photos. Even if you have a decent mid ranger with above average camera hardware, you can still take some amazing pictures with the help of some additional (free) apps. Since the selection is vast and filled with apps that are either incompetent or needlessly complicated, it's easy to get lost and confused.
But not to worry, mate! In this article, I'll share with you the top photography/videography related apps that will help you make the most of your camera hardware, and produce great quality footage.

Let's divide this article into 2 sections and handle each one separately. It will be a bit cleaner that way.

But before we begin, let's make a checklist real quick.
You will need:
  • Your phone (duh!)
  • A cheap tripod (convenient to have one handy)
  • A microfiber cleaning cloth (necessary)
  • Some storage space to install apps and store large image/video files (no sh*t).

With that aside, let's get on with it!

Smartphone Photography:

Taking a decent looking photo with a modern mid range phone is not a challenge nowadays. Almost every phone comes with a very capable camera app unlike what the situation was a few years ago. Camera apps themselves were pretty trash back then.

If you have a bit of time on your hands to capture the short, make sure you enter manual or Pro mode in your phone's camera. Every phone's camera app is made differently, and it may not provide all the functionality that it is supposed to.

If you find that a Pro mode is missing or not very detailed on your phone's built-in camera, you can always use a third party camera app. I personally recommend open camera. It's ad-free, lightweight, and works very well.

Always use grid lines when you are taking a shot. Always keep your lens clean with a microfiber cloth, so you can avoid smudgy pictures.

There are a few techniques that you can employ while taking a shot in everyday situations. There are plenty of them, but the most common one which I use all the time while I frame a picture is the rule of thirds.

Basically, your subject will look slightly better if it is in the corners of the central box of the grid lines on your screen.

Another very common rule which I tend to follow every now and then is finding a frame within a frame.

If you are taking a photo of an object or a person, try to find another rectangular outline in the vicinity. Place the object inside the rectangular area and then take a shot, which brings the attention of the user to it automatically.

If you make use of both of the above rules simultaneously, your shots will be perfectly framed and will look great almost every time.

So, now that we have got the perfect angle and perspective, it's time to work on the colors and details. Once the shot has been captured, you can send it to a photo editor of your choice. I personally recommend Adobe Lightroom and Google Snapseed.

Both apps are free and you can download them from the Play Store. When I decide to edit my clicks, I first import the photos to Lightroom and hit the auto button, which almost instantly makes the image look better by adjusting the various aspects of it.

You can push the color tint slightly to the reddish side to give it a very dramatic look. See for yourself.

Adobe lightroom can do just about everything that Snapseed can do as long as you are only playing around with the colors and picture details. In case you want to do some image healing (such as removing objects from the photo), or expand the photo using machine learning to a bigger resolution, you will have to use Snapseed for that. It's very simple to use, which does not require any explanation in my opinion.

Play around with these two apps for a while and you will find out how to get your photos from looking good to looking amazing!

Smartphone videography:

Recording videos using smartphone is also a tricky area. For recording videos, I absolutely have to stress on using open camera at all times. Unless you have an LG flagship like the LG V30, V30+, V40, G6, or G7 (which have incredible manual video modes), your native camera app will reduce the video quality in favor of stabilization.

You get a dozen more options to play around with using the open camera for videos. For recording high bit-rate cinematic videos, head over to video settings and choose highest bit-rate available.

In my case it was 200 Mbps.

Also, set the frame rate of the video to 24 frames per second. It is how most of the movies that you see are recorded.

Whenever you are doing a panning shot or moving the camera at all, it is important that you lock the exposure on your target before starting to record the video. This makes sure that the ISO and dynamic range stays consistent throughout the shot, and do not vary as usually they do in the auto mode.

Take a look at the sample video. I have entirely recorded and edited using my Galaxy Note 8. No gimbals, no external lenses, and no PC involved.

Speaking of editing, there is one video editor which I highly recommend. It is what I personally use and has a paid version, but is worth the purchase. It's called Videoshow. I have been using this app for over a year now, and I cannot think of anything that offers both functionality and simplicity in the way this one does.

You can stitch clips together, add transition effects, add subtitles, remove the sound from the clips, add your own music, easily record voice overs, and so much more. Check it out yourself and see if you like it. I think you will!

My way of recording video is, I record an abundance of footage when I'm at the location, which I can always trim to my liking. If you end up with a shortage of footage, nothing can be done about that.

Sometimes, if you are already sure about how you want this shot to end and the next shot to begin, you can save yourself some editing time by using the video pause button. Just press the button to pause the video and then resume it once you have re-framed your phone for the next shot.

Always make sure you unlock the exposure and then lock it back again when you change your device's position with the scene.

You can manually choose the ISO and exposure levels in case you find that the automatic values chosen are not correct, which can happen sometimes.

I don't recommend using the flash on your device, because it over exposes this scene and completely darkens the background. But if that's exactly what you want, where you want the viewer to only look at the foreground object and forget about everything else, maybe you could try using it and see how it looks like.

If you are recording a lot of footage with the camera in the same place and the object is moving around, now is the time to bring out your tripod.

If you are unsure about which one to purchase, just buy the cheapest that you find online. I got this particular one for just 400 Rupees. I know, it's cheap and looks like crap, but works well as a beginner's option.

Once you got the hang of using and maintaining a tripod, you can spring for more expensive options. This should do just fine for now. If you feel like recording a video out of nowhere, where you do not have your tripod with you, you can use your body as a tripod!

When you are doing panning and moving shots, just hold your arms as close to your chest and torso as you can and use your waist as a pivot to shift and rotate.

Once you gain a little experience, you can consider investing in an external lens for your phone. If you already have one of those devices with a wide angle sensor (all the LG phones mentioned above have it), you're set. But if you have any other phone without one, you should probably spend a couple of thousands on it.

A good Wide Angle lens can give you a perspective that you could never get before using your stock camera lens of your phone.

I am on the look out for a good Wide Angle lens myself, so I don't have any recommendations to give you right now. But stay tuned, when I find one that is worth spending money on, I will definitely let you know about it.

This is all I have to tell you for now when comes to smartphone photography and videography. If you like what you found here or learned something new, leave a comment down below.

You could also check out my social media handles at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I am pretty much always on them, so it's not difficult to get a response from me.

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Alright then, go out there (or stay inside your room because it's burning outside) and make some amazing content. Cheers!


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