Enchanting night, star-lit sky, flickering lights, create the perfect backdrop. You smile and snap a selfie on the party with your phone, but all the glamour is gone in a flash. The result is disappointed, because smartphone cameras for the most part are notoriously bad in low light. But fear not! These tips should help you in gloomy conditions.
Avoid using the touchscreen shutter button
In low light, the shutter will be open for longer so any movement from the phone will result in blurring. Tapping the screen’s shutter button can make the phone shift slightly, so if you can avoid it you should. On some smartphones, you can hook up the Apple headphones, open up the camera app and press the volume up button to take a shot.
Keep it steady
Use a tabletop, rock, tree branch or similar surface to keep your phone steady while you shoot – or even better, invest in a tripod or other support.
Throw some light on the subject
Your phone probably has an LED light that will light subjects close up, but it’ll likely leave images looking flat and lifeless due to it falling directly on the subject. Experiment with lamps, candles and other sources, and try lighting subjects from the side – you’ll find the images generally turn out far more interesting.
Check the settings
Many phone cameras are basic, straightforward tools with little support for manual settings, but you may be able to adjust the exposure, white balance and possibly ISO. Setting a higher ISO can result in sharper low light images.
Get app happy
While many apps that claim to boost your camera’s low light ability are about as useful as an inflatable dartboard, there are some that can help you achieve better results. There’s not much any piece of software can do if the image is blurry, though, so make sure you shoot with a steady hand.
Embrace the grain
Grainy shots can actually look attractively moody, especially in black and white, so try throwing a filter on them using Instagram, Snapseed or another editing app. In fact, coloured filters can go a long way towards saving an otherwise poor low light shot.