This post is brought to you by Samsung Malaysia
You’ve heard the spiel about how you can leave your camera at home because your smartphone is now just as capable. And while that is true to a certain extent, taking nice photos often depends more on the photographer than the camera. This is especially true when it comes to taking low-light photos.
So, today we’ll be sharing five quick tips on how to take better photos, specifically night portraits, with your smartphone. These are simple to implement, but you can also use it to develop your own style as you get better.
1. Use the right lens for the job
Although a big part of smartphone photography should be point-and-shoot, sometimes by taking just two seconds to choose the right lens for the job, will make a big difference in producing the right kind of effect or feel.
This is especially true if the subject of your photograph is a person because human subjects tend to complain a lot if their photos don’t turn out nice. One aspect that you should consider is the kind of lens you’re using.
Most smartphones come with wide lenses. This makes it great for taking landscape or everyday photographs, it’s not ideal for all kinds of portraits. This is because if you want to take a close up portrait of someone (say, shoulder-up) a wide lens will distort their facial features.
Instead, a better option for close up portraits is to take a telephoto portrait. With a longer lens, you’re able to compress the image properly and give your subject the right kind of proportions.
If you’re stuck with a wide lens, it would be better to take wider portraits, either full-body images or at least waist-up.
2. Play around with the bokeh settings
With smartphones leveraging AI and machine learning to produce nice portrait images, it also opens up a lot of opportunities to tweak the bokeh (i.e. the blur in the background). Depending on the kind of visual aesthetic you want to go for, it may be worth tweaking the strength of the background blur to match the vibe. This can usually be done both before or after you’ve taken the photo so it doesn’t really matter.
In some cases, you may even have the option to change the type of bokeh and use that depth information that your smartphone has gathered to do a lot of cool things with your photo. Since you have these tools at your disposal, it makes sense to play around with it and find the style that you like.
3. Pay attention to your light sources
Light is important in pretty much all kinds of photography. This is especially true when it comes to low-light portrait photography. Not only is it important to ensure your subject is well-lit, but this can also open up new opportunities to experiment with different lighting.
One thing you should always keep an eye out for is sources of practical light. Advertising billboards, soft overhead lighting in lobbies and even street lamps are great to light your subject or form beautiful bokeh in the background. You can even use street lighting to give your subject a halo effect when shooting with it backlit.
4. Get creative with your subjects
The thing about portrait mode on smartphones is that by now, most of them don’t just work on humans and human faces anymore. As long as there’s a clear “subject” in the frame, the smartphone will be able to recognise it and pick it out from the background.
This means you can use portrait mode to spice up your latte shots, your food shots or our favourites, to shoot pets!
5. Use a good smartphone
Now this story did start out with us saying that it’s more about the photographer than it is about the camera that’s being used. And that’s true for 90% of cases, but having a super capable smartphone with an incredible camera will definitely help make things a little easier.
The smartphone we used for this is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it has all the bells and whistles that you’d want to take incredible photos even when the going gets dark. Samsung has put a big emphasis on low-light photography through their Nightography approach.
As a result the Galaxy S22 Ultra pulls no punches. It has a redesigned AI ISP that can compound up to 20 photos into one to help reduce noise at the click of a button. This also works to remove and reduce handshake blur that’s often prevalent in low-light photography so your images stay nice and sharp.
Samsung has also equipped this smartphone with a big sensor and nona-binning technology that can combine adjacent pixels to create larger ones that absorb more light. This ensures your images have lower noise and remain sharp and detailed.