Photo hack: Make diffused lighting with your mobile phone

Taking clear photos in dim light armed only with a mobile phone can be problematic - especially if you're a foodie blogger trying to bring out the best of your dinner.  Mood lighting might be great for the ambience, but results in blurry, grainy photos.  Using a flash to compensate produces harsh, washed-out photos and risks annoying other people.

Here's a simple lighting hack that will help you take photos like this in dimly-lit interiors, using your mobile phone.  This photo was taken at night on a Samsung S3 at 86 restaurant, with no flash or changes to the exposure settings.
A mobile phone photo taken with diffused lighting
Photo by Linda Soo. Lighting services by me.

To get this look, use the torch light function on your mobile phone to make your own diffused lighting.  Wrap a serviette or tissue around it to soften the light.  This discreetly produces enough light to take clear photos, without blinding the people around you.
Assistive Light - more than just a torch for opening locked doors at night
This easily works if one person takes the photo while another person provides the above-mentioned lighting services.  But what if it's just you and your mobile phone?

There are a couple of things you can do. One option is to place a strip of masking tape over the light of your phone, making sure that it doesn't cover the lens. Alternatively, stick paper across the light cut-out on the inside of your phone cover (hopefully you have one and if you don't, you really should).  The phone cover will hold the paper in place, and the paper can easily be removed if you need to use the torch for its original purpose.
Place a strip of paper or masking tape over the light for a semi-permanent solution.
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