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Smartphone photo tips for the holidays

Dave Johnson | Dec. 13, 2013
'Tis the season for photos of holiday feasts, opening presents, and lots and lots of lights. Here's how to snap great-looking holiday shots with a cell phone.

Turn off the flash
I'm not a big fan of using the flash when taking photos. It often creates ugly photos with harsh lighting, and the effect is even worse when you're using a smartphone. To take better low-light photos without using the flash, increase the ISO in your phone's camera options (if possible) or use the camera's High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode. HDR mode usually combines several photos taken at different exposures for a better shot that has a far deeper tonal range. On many smartphones, HDR mode simulates this effect without taking several photos, and can give you better results in low-light situations than invoking the flash. If you use Instagram, you can also brighten up low-light shots by tapping the little "sun" icon in the lower left corner while reviewing your images.

Add a lens
Practically every smartphone out there has a fixed focal length, meaning that you can't zoom in and out like you do with most standalone cameras. To expand your creative options, you can attach a lens onto the front of your smartphone; there are both wide-angle and telephoto lenses that clip onto the front of your phone. A little geeky? Sure. But if you ask me, it doesn't look much geekier than taking photos with an iPad. This is also a good idea for a stocking stuffer, as Amazon has several lenses for the iPhone on sale.


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