Festival season is well and truly underway – you can tell by the way the sun has gone in and the sky's turned grey. But weather aside, that means it's time to get camera-ready and start a-snapping to capture whichever big event takes your fancy.
Whether it's Leeds Fest or Latitude, we've got the tips you need to get the best from your Google Pixel this summer, be it a Pixel 7 Pro with all its fancy features, or the latest Pixel 7a device. So, you'll be able to get your mates, top moments and favourite bands looking their best – come rain or shine.
By the time you're done with this little guide, you'll feel like a pro and have a whole album full of photos to look back on (okay, maybe some of them will be cringey). But like learning any new skill, you've got to start at the beginning…
1. Level up your viewfinder. Literally.
Yes, this is a pretty basic tip – and not exclusive to Google Pixel, it's true – but good advice is good advice, and we promised to start at the beginning.
To be frank, getting a shot that's perfectly level is difficult at the best of times. Even with a tripod to hand, you're still relying on setting it up on flat ground. But there's a simple trick that you might not have spotted on your Pixel that can make getting level shots a doddle – in fact, there are two little tools that will help you compose the perfect frame in a second or two. Which is usually all you're going to get when there's a lot going on around you.
Under Camera settings then More settings in the Camera app, scroll down to Composition, and you'll see the tools we're talking about – Framing hints (which are listed as on-screen tips and levellers) and Grid type.
Turning on Framing hints will put a leveller on your screen – kind of like the spirit level you may or may not use to hang pictures straight on the wall at home. When you go to take a shot, it causes two lines (white and yellow) to appear on your screen, and a number with a degree symbol next to it. All you have to do is get the two lines to line up, and that number to 0°.
There's a little more to it though – the leveller will only appear if you're already holding the phone reasonably level. You can make the number hit 0 by angling your phone left and right and get the yellow and white lines to match up by tilting your phone towards yourself, or away from yourself.
The result is that straight lines in your photo will actually be straight, so you'll get the best shot of the stage from the pit, or the bar if that's more your thing.
You can also go one step further and select Grid type in the settings. Here you can pick 3x3 or 4x4, and you'll see "golden ratio" lines appear in the viewfinder. Lining up the subject of your photo with the lines will always result in a better shot – even if it's not dead in the centre every time.
2. Frequent Faces
We've got to say it – this is such a clever little tool for taking photos, and it's utterly perfect for festivals.
It's also self-explanatory, as it recognises the faces of people you take photos of more frequently. Which is handy in a crowd. And by working out whom you're trying to capture in the shot, the Pixel can then recommend other shots that might be better than the one you took (since Google takes a short video every time you press the shutter button and selects a Top Shot anyway.)
Turning it on is easy too. In the Camera app, go to Settings, More settings and then scroll down to Frequent Faces. Tap to turn it on, and voila.
Just a warning though – if you turn it off again, it will delete all the data, and take a while to build up its knowledge again!
3. Edit while you shoot.
We're all guilty of using filters, tweaking settings and editing our photos to make them look their best – but with a Google Pixel, you can do this right in the viewfinder as you're taking the picture.
This might sound a bit fiddly to do quickly (especially when you're trying to get a fast photo of something fleeting), but it's pretty simple. And it can bring out colours and details that you might be surprised to see in the moment.
Using the Camera app, you can edit temperature, shadows and exposure using sliders that appear on the screen and allow you to make big and small changes depending on the result you're after.
The temperature slider is obvious – you can literally see the colours on the slider, which can be skewed towards warmer tones (the orangey end) or cooler tones (the blue end.) This is a great one for adding warmth when the sun's gone in or cooling down a shot in the glaring sunshine.
To adjust the shadows in the shot, look for the slider that looks like a moon (see why we said it was simple?) Slide it up to brighten the photo, or down to darken it.
Last but not least, there's exposure, which has a little sun symbol next to the slider. This will let you adjust the overall brightness in the image, going up for brighter and down for darker.
4. Motion Mode (Action Pan & Long Exposure)
First introduced with the Pixel 6 range, the two photo modes known as Motion Mode are still around and going strong to make your photos pop.
They're both software-based and mimic techniques that can be used by professional photographers to capture motion (that are actually kinda hard to pull off at the best of times.) Both can be accessed right from the main Camera app – just scroll along the bottom until you reach Motion. There'll be a slider above the shutter button to let you choose between Long Exposure and Action Pan.
Though similar, these two creative effects are different. Long Exposure is a nice one for festivals in particular (especially if you've got glowsticks!) because it makes stationary objects or subjects look clear in the final image but applies a gorgeous blur effect to everything else that's moving.
Action Pan, on the other hand, adds a fake motion blur to a moving subject in your shot, and is best when there's just one thing moving, rather than a whole crowd of people.
We'd recommend a little bit of practice at using both effects before you set off!
5. Cinematic Mode
You might have heard this called bokeh, but on your Pixel it's called Cinematic – and you get to it the same way as you do Motion Mode, by scrolling along from the main screen of the camera app.
While a lot of people associate the bokeh effect with Apple devices, it's actually something that's been used by professional photographers for much much longer than iPhones have been around. It works on almost any subject and separates the subject from the background with a nice artistic blur that draws your focus.
On a Google Pixel device, you can also achieve the same effect in Portrait Mode, for still shots. But Cinematic Blue levels up your videos too – taking full advantage of the mighty software and computational power provided by the Google Tensor and Google Tensor G2 chipsets.
The only catch with this clever feature is that you need something to be the "subject" of your shot. The effect won't work if there isn't a clear place to focus, as it's designed to separate the foreground and the background.
6. Ruined the shot? Maybe not with Photo Unblur.
If you've ever taken a photo after a few drinks, then you'll appreciate Photo Unblur. It's also handy for taking shots of fast-moving children and pets, but you're less likely to have that issue in the crowd at a festival, right?
Photo Unblur does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a new feature on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that reduces visual noise and removes blur from images. Seriously simple, and seriously clever.
What's extra nice is that you can use it on photos taken on another device, or even scanned images – so you can sort out your mates' photos too.
7. No more photobombing with Magic Eraser.
Okay, this one is called magic, true – but it can't fix everything. Trust us, we've tried.
However, it's nifty if you need to remove little niggling bits from your photos that are taking away the glory of the shot. So yes, it will remove a photobomber – just not one that takes up the majority of the photo, as the software needs to have an idea of what's in the background to figure out what should ideally be in the shot.
It's easy to use, too – you can either use the brush tool and drag it over the object you want to remove, or the circle tool to let Google's software do the work. Either way, the results are impressive.