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5 quick tips for taking better pictures with your smartphone

Al Sacco | Oct. 29, 2013
Everyone has a smartphone camera these days, but a relative few get the best photos possible from their devices.We share five quick tips to help you take better smartphone photos.

2) Photo Apps, Photo Apps, Photo Apps
You really can't have too many photography apps. While iOS really shines when it comes to photo apps, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 have their fair share of great photo software as well.

I have a folder dedicated specifically to photo apps on all of my various smartphones, and I'm always adding new ones as I find them. (Note: Always read app-store reviews and research the developers before installing random apps that could put device security or personal privacy at risk.)

The iOS photo apps I use regularly include Photoshop Express; Camera Genius; Instagram; Diptic and Diptic PDQ; VSCOcam; Snapseed, and Mextures. Here are some Android apps: Snapseed; Instagram; Diptic; Vignette; Camera FV-5, and Paper Camera.

Like your smartphone-camera's advanced features, it pays to take the time to actually learn how to use your mobile-phone photo apps.

(Shameless plug: Follow me on Instagram @asacco to see some of my recent smartphone photography.)

3) Lighting and Your Smartphone Camera Flash
Odds are you usually leave your smartphone camera's flash setting on automatic so it turns on and off as your device sees fit. That's fine, but people who want to get the best photos possible should make themselves think about lighting when taking images and experiment with flash settings. That means turning the flash on and off.

Light is one of the most important components in quality photography, regardless of the camera you use. In general, natural light is better than artificial light, according to New England Photo Workshops' Bob Ring. "But bad light is bad light," Ring says, whether it's natural or artificial. Bad light is mixed light with shadows, according to Ring. You want an even light.

"The worst [time for] photography is noon time," Toothaker says. If you're planning to take photos outside, it's a good idea to try to go early in the morning or in the afternoon, when the light is more even, according to Toothaker. Softer light is better than harsh or bright light.

The flash on some smartphone cameras provides very poor or artificial-looking light. If you have the time and opportunity, it's a good idea to use natural light. Even if you don't have much natural light, you should try to take the same image with and without your flash. You can always use a photo-editing app to lighten up your images or otherwise process a dark photo.

To sum that up: Get in the habit of experimenting with light and your camera's flash, when appropriate.

Finally, if you have a light source in your image, Toothaker says, "Keep in mind that your eye is always going to go to the brightest part of the screen."


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