We’ve all been there before. You’re out in the evening alone or with your friends or family, you want to take a selfie to capture the moment but every time you try, the photo just doesn’t look good.
Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. Below are five tips that will help you take better selfies with your phone at night.
TIP #1: Pay attention to lighting
Because smartphone cameras have very small sensors, they need as much light as possible in order to produce the best quality pictures. That’s why phones struggle so much to capture good photos at night. For you to take good selfies at night with your phone, you need to pay close attention to lighting.
Here are a few things you can do to get the best lighting for your selfies at night.
Find available lighting
No matter where you are when you want to take a selfie a night, you need to find a source of light. This can be anything from house lights and candles indoors to campfires, streetlights, and storefronts outdoors. Even screens of electronic devices can serve as lighting for some really cool lighting effects.
It’s worth noting that different light sources have different intensities and colour temperatures. For example, the light from a single candle is not as bright as the light from a fluorescent light. So, when finding a source for lighting, choose one that is bright enough to illuminate your pictures well while keeping in mind the low-light capabilities of your camera.
Face the light
The way you position yourself in relation to the light can have a great impact on the outcome of the selfie. For example, if you stand with the light source directly behind you with no additional lighting in the front, then you will appear as a silhouette.
If you want t take an evenly-lit selfie at night, you need to position the light source in front of you, so that you are facing the light and the camera is between you and the light. Just be careful not to have the shadow of your hand and phone creep into the shot
For more dramatic lighting, if possible, you can position yourself in such a way that the light source is off to the side or even overhead or down below.
Get an external light
If there is no source of light available or the one that’s available just won’t do, you can attach a light to your smartphone or set some up on a stand. Of course, if you’re out in public, it would be much easier to attach a small light to your phone than to do a whole photography lighting set up.
Small, attachable LED lights have the advantage of portability but very few can give you the brightness you get from some slightly bigger lights. One of the best lights on the market is the Lume Cube 2.0. It’s small enough to fit into your pocket, yet it’s bright enough to light up an entire room.
A good thing about LED smartphone lights is that you are in control of everything. You can adjust the brightness, the colour temperature, and position to get the exact look you want.
ALSO READ: Lighting Options For Smartphone Photography
Match the ambient light colour temperature
If you attach your own external light source (which I highly recommend for the best results) to take a selfie at night, then you need to take note of the colour temperature of the light in the environment you’re in.
Certain types of light have a warm, orange-ish colour while others have a cool, blue-ish colour. Combining lights of different colour temperatures can throw off the colours of your photos which may require fixing when editing.
To avoid such a situation when lighting with an external LED, you can attach a filter on the light or adjust a setting to change the colour temperature to match that of the environment or whatever you want it to be.
Use flash (as a last resort)
Some smartphones have front-facing flash or the camera app flashes a bright white light from the screen to light up your face. While this may seem useful and convenient, it’s honestly not the best lighting at all.
The flash on a smartphone camera is weak and creates unflattering pictures that look a bit washed out with very dark backgrounds, which is a far cry from professional flash photography. It’s far better to use proper lighting or a selfie stick with a light than the phone’s flash.
If ever you feel the need to use the flash on your mobile camera, rather use it as a last resort to add extra light to the already available light.
TIP #2: Choose the best background
The background of any photo can be regarded as the next most important thing in the photo after the subject. That’s because it literally creates a backdrop for your image that can put emphasis on the subject or provide context.
Because there isn’t as much light at night, sometimes it can be challenging to get a selfie with a nice background, depending on where you are. But pictures with no background can be boring. If possible, find a background that’s nicely lit and looks interesting.
But, as already mentioned, you don’t want something too bright and luminescent behind you if there is no other light in front of you because you will appear dark. Make sure you are also well-lit.
Also, make sure there is nothing weird going on behind you when you take the selfie. The internet is riddled with selfies of embarrassing and horrid things going on in the background. You don’t want to be one of them.
TIP #3: Use the rear camera
Wait, what? Use the rear camera to take a selfie? Why complicate life when phones already have a selfie camera for that purpose?
Well, in most multi-camera smartphones, the quality of the primary rear camera is better than that of any other camera on the phone. It usually has a larger sensor, bigger pixels, wider aperture, and other factors that make it better equipped at taking photos at night. So, if you want to take the best selfies at night, that’s the best camera to use.
The one drawback of using the rear camera for selfies is that you can’t see yourself. Sure, you can use the reflection in the mirror as a guide or set the camera on a tripod but that’s not always possible, especially out in public.
If you have a smartphone with a flip-camera that can rotate from rear to front or a foldable smartphone with a cover display such as the Huawei Mate Xs, then you don’t have to worry about not seeing yourself when using the main camera.
TIP #4: Use a tripod
A tripod-- yet another thing that isn’t usually associated with selfies but it can definitely help you take better selfies at night. First of all, the camera usually uses a slow shutter speed to capture as much light as possible which makes it super-sensitive to any movement. A tripod keeps your phone very steady, thus preventing blurry shots.
If your image of a tripod is that of a bulky, three-legged piece of equipment that you have to lug around, you need to get with the program. There are selfie sticks that can double as a tripod. They are small and very easy to carry, so there is no excuse for not having or using a tripod.
Another type of tripod that you can invest in that will help you take better selfies at night is a tripod with a ring light. This type of tripod is actually very popular with many YouTubers and Instagram influencers. One of the most popular on Amazon is the Ubeesize TR50 Ring Light tripod, and it’s easy to see why.
What’s another advantage of using a tripod to take selfies, I hear you ask. Well, some tripods come with a remote shutter. That means you can set your phone on the tripod and stand quite a distance away from it to take a full-body selfie.
Not only that, using a tripod frees your hands, which can allow you to take all sorts of cool and creative selfies.
TIP #5: Be awesome
Ultimately, how good a selfie looks at night or during the day rests with you, the subject of the photo. If you feel good, and look good, it will show in your selfies.
Try out a variety of poses, expressions, and angles to capture the best shots of yourself. You probably won’t get the best shot on the first go, so be sure to take multiple photos as you try different things.
Keep in mind that lighting at night is an issue. Limited lighting can restrict what you can do in terms of poses and angles without moving out of the light or contending with shadows. So, make the most of the lighting available to you and use it to your advantage.
Taking a good selfie at night with your phone shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you follow all the points above. If you have enough lighting, a smartphone with a good camera, and a killer background, all you have to do is look good and your low-light selfies will come out looking amazing!