04 July 2018

Camera tricks (android phone)

My phone camera produces unsatisfactory photos under certain lighting conditions - we get all sorts of lighting at the Drawing Tuesday show&tell sessions, and sometimes the photos are rather poor.

I've not been able to - no, that's not right, let me rephrase it: I've not looked for how to change the camera settings - they're not under the phone settings, so where could they be? A bit of web searching reveals that these things are hidden in plain sight! To find them, via such instructions, you do have to know the terminology. And the basic moves - swipe left, open from the app. And what the icons are called.

(There is a theory that not knowing the terminology is what stops many people (usually those of a certain age) from using "smart" technology. A publication along the lines of "what does it look like - what's it called - what does it do" that covers various devices could be useful.)

I discovered that the menu for the camera appears when you open the camera from the cluttered screenful of icons for apps, ie not by drawing a V on screen or double tapping (which I didn't know was possible!) and then you swipe from the left.

On this list is Manual, which I'd simply disregarded, but now had to investigate. Oh! There's a brightness setting, a sort of wheel that you can touch to move to adjust the colour cast - cloudy, daylight, auto, fluorescent, or incandescent - and what a difference that makes!

In daylight, indoors (bright white matte and gloss paint) -
Cloudy conditions

Under sunny skies

Auto (with bonus focal point!)

Fluorescent lighting

Incandescent lighting
The  little round lamp is an LED light, shining on a white wall -
Set to cloudy




Another possibility for getting a brighter photo is playing with the ISO setting. A higher setting indicates a faster "film", ie shorter shutter speed needed, so to get more light into the camera, use a smaller ISO number, maybe 200 or 100. If lighting is confusing, eg spotlights indoors, the camera doesn't know what to do.

All very interesting, but the proof will be in the pudding when, next time we meet round a table in a spotlit corner of a cafe, the Drawing Tuesday photos are taken.

Did you notice the "focal point" - the double circle? This appears when you touch the "camera" screen, and using it is a good idea in tricky lighting conditions. Sometimes the camera takes a little moment to adjust and focus, and premature clicking results in blurry photos. This is like the "hold the button halfway down before clicking all the way" on a proper camera - it's giving the machine time to do its very best.

Of course some editing can be done in camera or on computer, and often the "auto colour correct" function works fine ... but not always. I use googlephotos because they are automatically downloaded from the phone onto my laptop, and that program offers rotation, colour correction (tricky if the colour balance is bad to start with!), cropping... There's a keystroke for downloading, eg to Photoshop, where you can do more complicated things there, but laziness usually wins.  The laziest thing of all is to take a good photo in the first place!

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