Lesson 103: Brighten or Darken

Taking Better Smartphone Pictures Lesson 103: Brighten or Darken   

Smartphone Cameras generally do an excellent job of determining how bright or dark your picture will be. But how do you change the exposure when your smartphone gets it wrong? 

In Smartphone Camera lesson 103, you will find out how to change the exposure of your intended picture. 

Before we get started, grab a hold of your smartphone, open the camera app, and follow along.  All smartphone cameras will have the functionality I describe, yours might look different. If you know the functionality exists, you can find it, figure out how to use it, then practice it so it becomes an action you can take when the great picture you want to take presents itself. 


I have found three common situations requiring adjustment of your camera’s exposure:

  • The subject is much darker than the picture as a whole. Taking a picture of someone in the snow is a good example.  Your camera will likely expose to the bright snow.  To properly expose your subject, increase the brightness.
  • The subject is much brighter than the picture as a whole. You may need to darken the image.
  • You want to darken the image to show silhouettes.

Accessing the brightness control is easy; just touch the screen where you want the camera to focus. A slider will pop up. Change the brightness by sliding it side to side or up and down, depending on how your camera is configured.

While we are on the subject, turn on your camera, touch the screen, and utilize the brightness slider. Do it now and practice so you can easily adjust the brightness when the greatest of all images presents itself. 

The brightness slider is in the middle, the level suggested by your camera.

Move the slider left or right to change the brightness.  Left darkens, right brightens.

Pro tip

You can enhance the colors of bright objects by darkening an image.  During sunrise or sunset, position yourself so that an interesting shaped object is between you and the colorful sky.  Use the brightness slider to darken the image. Adjust such that the foreground is in a nice silhouette while achieving a more colorful sky.