Lesson 104: Don't Get Caught Flashing

Taking Better Smartphone Pictures 

Lesson 104: Don't Get Caught Flashing   

Smartphone Cameras DO NOT take good flash pictures. Never use your smartphone camera's flash.  I never say never, but I only use the flash in an emergency for record shots, such as taking picture of a tag or a label in a very dark setting.    

In Smartphone Camera lesson 104, you will find out why not to use your smartphone flash and how to add extra light to your image.   

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. 


Here is a shortened list of why smartphone flash is a big fail 

  • It is a harsh straight-on light that is not complimentary to faces
  • It is too weak to use at a distance
  • It causes weird reflections from windows, mirrors, and other reflective surfaces
  • The results are predictably awful with group photos because  whoever is closer to the flash will end up absorbing most of the light

Is it obvious I do not like smartphone camera flash?  No need to answer; the response should be obvious. 

While we are on the subject, turn on your camera, then turn your flash off by choosing the flash icon with a line drawn through it.

How to add light to an image without using the flash. 

  • Turn on or add more lights in the location
  • Use the led flashlight app (not flash) from other cell phones. This works best if the light is coming in from the side.  Even better is using two cell phone flashlights coming in from opposite directions.  Control light intensity by moving the flashlights closer or further away. With some experimentation, you will get the light just right. 


If the light sources you have available are not producing good results, try the HDR or Night Mode that many smartphone cameras have.  I will cover these approaches in future lessons.  In the meantime, look for them on your phone and try experimenting with them when you have the time.