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Taking mobile photographs in low lighting can be challenging for a number of reasons. In addition to running the risk of blur, you may find it difficult to set the focus on your subject. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to improvise in low lighting, whether you’re indoors or outdoors – it doesn’t have to entirely ruin your mobile photography!
Tapping your screen as soon as you open your Camera app to set the focal point can do wonders for your mobile photography. It instructs the camera to hone in on the subject, regardless of what it may try to capture around it. Additionally, it sets the proper exposure level for the image at hand.
As you adjust your camera to cater to the low lighting, don’t rule out going manual.
“Many Android and Windows phones have a manual mode option built-in, whereas there are a plethora of apps on iOS that let you do the same,” Napier Lopez explains for The Next Web.
Extra tools, such as a tripod, can also help you beat some of the challenges of low lighting. As your Camera app tries to absorb as much lighting as possible, there is a greater risk for blur, even with optical image stabilization.
“If you really want to be serious, carry a small phone tripod for phones in your bag,” Lopez continues. “If you’re shooting in manual mode, you can even set the shutter speed long enough for cool light trails.”
Even if it’s not pitch black outside, you may be in an environment where there is simply a lack of natural lighting. In these cases, it’s best to work with what you’ve got, even if it’s only illumination from nearby windows.
“If the room is particularly dark, the light streaming in from outside can add a dramatic quality to the image,” writes photographer Paul Moore.
It also may be worth considering artificial lighting, regardless of whether it results in shadows. Think of how you could incorporate lighting fixtures without shying away from your subject matter. Be creative: if someone is near you with their cell phone, ask them to activate the flashlight and see how that helps you.
“Introducing external light sources to compensate for low light could be considered a bit of a cheat in an article discussing low light photography, but it’s an obvious solution and if it’s done right it can result in some interesting shot,” Moore continues.
Flash doesn’t have to be ruled out as you face low lighting conditions. Although it can create a harsh brightness in your mobile photography, it can also give you the illumination you need when used properly.
“When you avoid shining a flash directly on your subject, and you opt to illuminate them with light reflected off the walls, you get a much more natural looking result,” David Peterson explains for Digital Photography Secrets.
You may want to consider purchasing a light ring or separate LED light to go with your phone, rather than relying on its built-in flash, for better results.
As you look to work in low lighting, don’t settle for less. Your mobile photography doesn’t have to suffer if you adjust to your surroundings and use a few add-ons during your shoot.