How to use Exposure for Mobile Photography

exposure for mobile photography

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May 10, 2018

Getting the right exposure in mobile photography can be challenging. Have you ever walked outside and it is too bright? Or have you ever stepped into a dark room where everything seems pitch black and you can’t see anything? Then your eyes adjust and you can see clearly again.  That is how exposure works. The black part of the eye is the pupil and the iris opens and closes to let more light in. If I step in a dark room the pupils are opened very wide to let more light in and when I step into the sun my eyes adjust and the pupil gets smaller to let less light in. Our eyes need a particular setting.  When we move from one lighting to another it takes time for our eyes to adjust.

A camera also needs different exposure settings depending on the light in the scene. As your eye has an iris to let more or less light in a camera has an aperture that does the same thing.  Your eye also has another way to control light. That is the eyelid that can be opened and closed quickly or slowly.  This is a form of a shutter and a camera also has a shutter. Exposure is controlling the amount of light that gets into the sensor in your camera.  Therefore, too much light is let in and the image is too bright; the details are lost and the image is washed out. Too little dark the shadows are black leaving out significant details.

What is Exposure?

Have you ever taken a picture of a building and after you look at the sky in the background and it is all washed out showing very few details or colors?  Have you tried to capture a person standing in the sunset and noticed that the sunset was beautiful but the person’s face was too dark?  Creating balance in an image is done by focusing on creating an image that is not too dark or too light. This way the colors are vibrant and clear. To create balance there are a few key features to improve your photography. First, you must learn how to control the exposure on camera mode. Second, you will need to understand some guidelines for focusing.

Smartphone photography exposure

Under exposed image

How to use Exposure for Mobile Photography

When you take a picture, exposure is the amount of light that is collected by the sensor in your camera. It is the way to control the light and darkness of the image. Traditional SLR cameras have a light meter that tells them what the lighting should be set at. A smartphone also has some ability to adjust the focus and exposure. You can do this by touching any part of the screen and a little circle or square will come up depending on the type of phone. This will adjust the focus and exposure for mobile photography.  Getting the right exposure for mobile photography can be hard but here are a few tips for your mobile phone.

Mobile Photography Exposure Tips and Tricks

  •  Just Tap

Explore each smartphone touch screen by just tapping anywhere on the screen to adjust the exposure. By tapping on a dark portion the image will instantly become brighter. Tap on a light part and the shot will become darker. The trick is to find the right spot where your phone will have lights and dark’s are even. There are no blinding lights and black blobs in your image.

Smartphone exposure

Tap to find the right exposure. This image is almost correct but the top right corner is a little over exposed.

  • Focus

Getting the image totally in focus can seem easy but sometimes it looks almost in focus but is not. On a cell phone, you can choose the focal point by initially tapping on the place you want to focus. This spot will be the spot that is most in focus. As the image move out the image will gradually become more blurry. A smartphone does a great job at getting everything in focus.

Over exposed image

By tapping on something dark the sky becomes overexposed.

  • Adjust Exposure Manually

Getting the right picture is more than just tap focus, and shoot. Exposure is one of the key elements to getting a great image. On a phone, focus the image and a sun or a light bulb image will appear. On the iPhone, the sun appears next to the focused area. Just slide up or down on the image to adjust the exposure. On a Samsung, a light bulb appears at the bottom and you can slide from left to right to change the exposure.

Cell Phone Exposure

Exposed so the sky is still bright but you can still see the color of the grass.

  • Get creative and lock focus

To get more creative with focusing your smartphone you can choose the focus lock option. If you hold down on the focus button the AE/AF lock button comes up. This locks the focal point in place after you move your smartphone. Once your focus is locked you can alter the exposure making it darker or lighter.  You can focus on a part of the frame and then change the angle to create the composition you like. Focus lock works great for taking a panorama and making movies.

Getting the correct exposure for mobile photography may take some time to get it right. Also using an attachable light may help you out if your image is not bright enough. By just a few taps and tips you will be able to share fantastic images and improve your ability to get the right exposure in mobile photography.

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