Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9 +
Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9 Plus – I own several cameras. A couple of DSLR’s, a Nikon D7200 and a D40X. a ‘go pro’ type thing and of course a phone.
Guess which one I have with me most of the time?
Of course, it’s my phone. Most of the time my mobile is just used for average shots, a Selfie or a picture of food. But the camera on your phone is capable of great things!
I’ve used Samsung’s for years. I got my first Samsung mobile phone in 1998. Yeah, I’m older than dirt. But, I’ve had a great deal of experience in the evolution of Samsungs. My first Samsung Galaxy smartphone was an S3, and since then the cameras on these phones have just got better and better.
Be that as it may
You can have the best camera in the world but that doesn’t mean you can take the best photo! Understanding how your camera works and what it’s capable of is a bit like a Swiss flag, a big plus.
Let’s get down to it
Ok, this is quite a lengthy article. Of course, you can read through it all or just click on the section you want from the list below.
All the photos below are unedited (unless stated) and taken on a Samsung S9 plus. That brings us nicely to the Modes of the Samsung S9+;
Camera Modes of the Samsung S9 Plus
I love this feature! Indeed, Live Focus can really help add more to your photos. This great little feature on the S9 and the S9 Plus is well worth trying. Live Focus can add depth to your photos, just like a professional DSLR.
You’ll notice one thing about live focus immediately, it crops the image and makes it larger on the screen. The other thing you’ll notice, what it’s supposed to do, is to throw the background out of focus.
When taking a photo, as always, press the screen to focus on the particular part of the picture you want to be in focus. Then press the shutter button. Then, the magic is done inside the camera and you’re left with the end result.
Take a look at the photo below which was of a better subject;
This is a picture of my friend Oliver on his wedding morning. It is an example of life focus bringing the front of the picture to life but throwing the background out of focus. You can still tell the background is a stadium, but by throwing it out of focus it makes you concentrate on the things in focus in the picture.
Live Focus is really easy to use, open the camera and swipe across the top. You have to move a certain distance back, otherwise, you’ll get a too close warning, as can be seen above. However, the effect is very noticeable when you get it right. The example is the two pictures above. It just focuses on a particular bit of the guitar fretboard, throwing the front and back out of focus and gives the picture a bit more depth.
Whether this will be useful, it depends on how often you take pictures of your food! Because if you do it a lot, read on! Swipe to Food Mode, and make sure your plate is in the highlighted area, the bracketed square.
To adjust the tint or colour temperature, touch the palette on the right-hand side of the screen, and then drag the slider so its colours suit you. Then take the picture. As with all these modes, practice makes perfect!
A panorama is a great way of filling the screen and getting everything in. It’s also handy if you can’t step back any further to get the whole subject in the frame. Also, don’t forget you can take a panorama in portrait mode too! As can be seen below;
Panorama – Photography with a Samsung S9 plus
I couldn’t step any further back, due to not wanting to be run over by cars! So, panorama portrait mode came to the rescue! Below is the traditional landscape panorama of Brighton Pier at sunset. The first image is standard as it was taken. The second is put through our old friend, Windows Photos, the free program included with Windows 10. Windows Photos (How to Guide).
The Pro mode on the Samsung S9 Plus is your chance to get creative! Let me give you a guide as to what the symbols below mean.
Top Row – Left to Right
The numbers between 50 to 800 are a light setting. The higher the number, the more light in the photo. So, the bigger the number, the brighter the photo. The Catch? The higher the ISO, the more grain. This is also known as noise.
Shutter and F-number
The F-number has two settings F1.5 and F2.4. The F1.5 setting lets more light into the sensor than F2.4. The numbers on the slider are between 1/24000 and 10. That’s 1/24000 of a second to 10 seconds. Of course, without a tripod or some sort of support, it will be pretty impossible to hold the phone still for 10 seconds.
Various filters to use to suit the mood of your photos.
You can choose manual or autofocus. the manual focus can be adjusted with a slider, the end with the flower is close up, the end with the mountain picture is far away. As you change the focus distance you can see the results on the screen.
White balance for various lighting situations. When taking a photo under artificial light, it can produce a colour cast or tint over the photo depending on the light source. Strip lights produce a different tint than bulbs. Click here for the science bit from Camerapedia.
Handled in the phone
Bottom Row – Left to Right
The cogwheel controls many of the functions of the camera that are not on the front, like picture size, timer and grid lines.
Makes the subject visible across the entire phone.
On off or automatic. as discussed earlier, I keep mine off.
Spot, centre weighted and matrix. As you would expect, spot metering takes a very small reading from the centre of the subject. Useful if the subject is backlit. Centre-weighted takes a light reading from the general centre and matrix takes a reading across the viewfinder.
Centre or Multi are the choices here. The centre is used to focus on the subject in the centre. but, if you don’t want to focus on something in the centre of the picture, use the multi-option.
Below is a video of using the shutter control to enhance your sunsets. At its basic level, it’s just a case of moving the shutter speed up and down to get the colours you want.
Pro Mode – Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9 Plus
Super Slow Mo
I’d never used this feature, to be honest, before I wrote this article! Then having played with it, it’s a lot of fun! As you would expect, super slow-mo slows down the action. it’s almost the exact opposite of the hyperlapse a few paragraphs below.
As the phone mentions, it’s best to take the super slow-mo in bright light. But, ever the inquiring mind, I tried it in low light first! You can use the bottom right icon to make it full screen on the video.
Yes, it saves the slow-mo file as a .mp4 although you can have the option of saving it as a .gif. So, that was in low light and it was still an acceptable picture if a little ‘noisy’. Let’s see if a morning light is any better.
Super Slow-Mo, Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9
Yes, the brighter the light, the better the image, unsurprisingly. I imagine that sunny days will produce even better, but this is England. In January. Somedays it feels like the sun never comes up.
As you would expect, I used my cheap mini tripod with my selfie stick head mentioned at the bottom of the article. The key to super slow-mo is to keep the camera as still as possible.
Okay…. you’ll either love this or hate this. It’s basically a way to create a cartoon you. If it’s not your bag see you in the hyperlapse section, next! If you’re curious, read on.
When you first use the feature, you’ll be asked to create an emoji of yourself. It takes a picture of you, then cartoons the picture it takes. This is my Augmented Reality emoji.
AR Emoji – Photography with a Samsung S9 plus
Apart from making me look like a complete cock, it doesn’t show the grey hair or the wrinkles. So that’s possibly a plus! Also, you can choose your clothes, I went for the suit.
That’s the overview, but, as always, practice it to become competent. For a fuller description, Samsungs own website has more.
The Hyperlapse feature on the Samsung S9+, in my opinion, is actually pretty cool! Ok, you are not going to use it every day, but it is fun. For the below hyperlapse, I set the Samsung S9 Plus on a baby tripod. Of course, just propping it up on a rock will work just as well.
Hyperlapse – Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9 +
It is, as you would expect, best to use the hyperlapse on a slowly moving subject.
General Photography Tips
Okay, of course, you need light to take a photo. It’s the biggest thing about photography! No matter what phone or camera you are using, your first thought should be about light. To be sure, there are different types of light. So, is it natural light? Is it from lights indoors? Is it from the direct sunlight?
These different types of light can change your photograph dramatically. If you can, use the ambient available light to take the photos. Below, are two photos, both taken with the Samsung s9+. They are completely identical except one has been put through windows photo enhance.
This is just to show that using the available light it is more than possible to create great photos with the s9+ without flash. And to pep-up your photos, use some free tools. This is the type of Photography with a Samsung S9 + you can achieve.
The first, to my eye, is perfectly fine but the second, having been put through Windows Photos (How to Guide) is more Instagram friendly! Taken at Roques De Garcia in the Canary Islands.
Flash (Or Not)
As I mentioned earlier, unless you have no choice, don’t use flash on your phone. The reason for this is because it, generally, kills the atmosphere of a photo stone dead! Take a look at the two photos below:
The flash in the first photo has provided even lighting but there is no warmth, the flash-light has taken away all the depth of the picture. Even if you are standing by a window, turn on the lights in that room rather than rely on flash. Flash is always a last resort. I always leave the flash on my phone off and, of course, recommend you do too. Only turn it on when you need to. Otherwise, it will go off when you don’t want it to and ruin a moment.
Direction of Light
The direction of the light can play an important role. If your subject is standing under a light you can get dark shadows around the eyes as well as an overall dark face. The obvious answer to this is to get your subject to take a couple of steps backwards as in the photo below.
Dark shadows can be lessened by taking a step back, or several to take the dark circles away completely!
Also, standing in front of a window is not a good idea. As you can see by the example below it just turns the person into a silhouette. Move to the side, and take the picture with the light coming side on. Or even better, move the person and have your back to the window! That way the subject is front lit, providing an even light on the face. But this isn’t just a tip for Photography with a Samsung S9 plus, it is for all camera phones.
It’s easy to see which angle gives the best light!
Sometimes, a selfie is not always best. Using a selfie stick can help, otherwise, you’ll have your own arm in the photo. If there’s somebody else about, ask them to take the photo. Or, you can get one of these tiny tripods. I use a really cheap one on Amazon to hold my Samsung s9 plus steady. I use it coupled with my selfie stick head. Click the link below to see.
This is the tripod I used to take the Super Slow-Mo and the Hyperlapse. Keeping the camera still is very important for some of the modes for Mobile Photography with a Samsung S9 Plus.
Keep the phone steady
This does not just apply to Photography with a Samsung S9 +, it applies to all cameras. If your hands are shaking, or you’re not still, the photo will come out blurry. Especially, in low light. Sometimes you can move the phone as you reach to press the shutter. In that case, use the self-timer feature with a tripod. That way, you won’t be holding the phone and move it when taking the photo.
Always, tap on the screen to focusing on a particular object. Sometimes the camera can be fooled, don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking the camera has your back. There are times when the autofocus just does not get it right. That’s when tapping the screen will save your photo and make it in focus. It’s not just for Photography with a Samsung S9 +, it’s for all mobile phones.
if you are unsure of the rules of composition look up here but essentially you’re looking for leading lines symmetry, colours and textures and the rule of thirds.
To activate the grid lines on your phone, press the cog wheel on the left-hand side at the bottom. Scroll to the middle and click on grid lines, 3×3. Then you’ll see the grid lines on the screen when taking a photo. That will make sticking to the rule of thirds soooo much easier!
Similarly, it also works on horizontal pictures too. If you’re not sure about the rule of thirds, check out my composition guide.
Try not to use your camera to zoom. Indeed, it’s not really a true zoom. As you zoom in you will find you will lose definition in the picture, it won’t look as good. If you want the subject to be closer, walk towards it, if at all possible!
It’s not like an old-fashioned film camera. Take as many photos as you can, take loads! The more pictures you take, statistically, you will have more chance of taking a perfect shot.
Some useful links from Amazon
For all my tips and tricks see my Photography Tutorials page.
To see all my gear, check out What’s In My Camera Bag.
Below is a list of my most popular blogs on photography.
They form the Basis of My Top 10 photography Tips
Click here for my Photography page with all the links on.
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