How to use your phone's best feature like a pro

We all love using our phones for photos but a bad shot is easy to spot. Blurry, poorly composed or with the wrong filters.

All it takes is a little practice, and assistance from clever phones like Huawei's P20 Pro, and you'll be taking better photos in no time. Check out these quick tips.

Focus and exposure:

You probably know to tap the screen to focus on a particular part. But did you know about pressing and holding to get a separate exposure? This lets you can focus on one area but use the automatic exposure level for another.

When you tap for focus a small bar with a sun icon will briefly appear next to the focus box. This is your exposure level and it is set automatically, based on what you’re focussing on. Slide the icon up or down to increase or decrease the exposure level. 

Using the long exposure feature on a Huawei P20 Pro.
Using the long exposure feature on a Huawei P20 Pro. Photo credit: Newshub

Pro mode:

Newer Android phones often have a "pro mode". You need a good camera, like on the Huawei P20 Pro, to take advantage. In this mode you can change settings like you would on a normal camera. The amount of settings and how far you can change them are limited by the phone’s lens (or lenses) and sensor.

These settings unlock the full potential of the camera, and all it takes to master them is a bit of practice. For example, you can take impressive night time photos of stars or landscapes by increasing the ISO and/or shutter speed.

Pop on the grid to help you take photos.
Pop on the grid to help you take photos. Photo credit: Newshub

Depth:

You need dual cameras on the back of the phone to get that cool, depth of field effect. The usual set up is one telephoto lens and one regular lens. The Huawei P20 Pro has three lenses, adding in a monochrome lens that captures contrast and detail. The phone processes image from all the lenses, combining them into a final beautiful image.

Using this function can make what would normally be a flat photo into one with depth. Of course you don’t do this if you want to capture any detail in the background, hence it’s often called "portrait mode".

This image is created using the aperture depth effect.
This image is created using the aperture depth effect. Photo credit: Newshub

Tripods:

Night time photographs can often be either blurry or too dark. This is because the phone will automatically increase the shutter speed to let more light hit the sensor. This means you need to hold the phone really steady when you take your shot. Digital image-stabilisation features help but can’t fix everything, especially on very long exposures.

You can invest in a small tripod. It's easy to find a good pocket-sized tripod for your phone, but you may not want to lug even a tiny tripod on a night out. Thankfully DIY "tripods" are easy to make.

It can as simple as balancing your phone upright between two glasses or leaning it in a corner. This technique also works when taking a time lapse video when you don’t want to hold your phone the whole time.

A night time shot of a car in the rain using a Huawei P20 Pro.
A night time shot of a car in the rain using a Huawei P20 Pro. Photo credit: Newshub

Grids and AI:

Most phone cameras allow you to put a grid of lines onto the screen, dividing it into nine. This grid is a useful way to compose a shot, using the "rule of thirds". Basically you line up the most interesting parts of your shot where any of the grid lines intersect, keeping your composition slightly asymmetrical.

If you’re phone has AI assistance, this can also help compose photos. The P20 Pro can help compose the shot for you, lining up the horizontal and expanding or contracting the frame based on how many people are in it.

Zoom and flash:

Don't use zoom or flash.

After effects:

Have a play with the edit functions of your phone. Most phones have a good suite of filters and colour altering settings. But don't go overboard, moderation is key.

This article was created for Huawei. Check out the P20 and P20 Pro, available in New Zealand today, and see if you can take the perfect photo to make all your friends jealous.