Digital Crave

Eight tips to taking better smartphone photos

Digital Crave

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The best camera is the one you have with you, as the modern saying goes.

And while they might not take pictures as well as a standalone camera, the smartphone you tote around with you everywhere is getting much, much better at capturing memories.

In fact, many of today's smartphones have an 8-megapixel or better camera (for added detail), image stabilization (less blurry shots), sensitive sensors (for better low-light photography), superfast shutter speeds (so you don't miss that moment) and HD video recording (720p or 1080p).

Apps can make your shots look even better, or artsy, and because your smartphone has wireless connectivity you can instantly share those photos and videos with the world.

Regardless of the phone you're using, take note of these following tips to taking better photos and videos:

* Lighting is one of the most critical elements in taking a good shot. While many smartphones are shipping with built-in LED flashes, try to take your photos outside and during the day for the best possible image quality — and ensure the sun is behind you and not your subjects or they'll look like a silhouette.

* If you must use your smartphone's flash, know its range limitations. Many people try to take pictures of, say, a banquet hall during a wedding, only to be disappointed because everything is dark image beyond a foot or so.

* Unless you're aiming for a landscape shot, move in close for a better view of your subject. That way, you can capture more facial detail, such as light freckling, a charming dimple or soft pale blues of the iris. Try filling your frame with the subject.

* When shooting photos or videos, try to match the height of the subject, such as kneeling on the ground to snap a picture of a toddler. You'll get better shots when you're at eye level rather than angling the phone up or down. When shooting video, move the phone slowly to prevent blur while recording; with photos, keep your hand as still as possible when you press the shutter button.

* Turn your smartphone sideways when taking photos to get more in — especially when shooting group shots. Use landscape mode as much as you can when taking photos of people in great locations as it will capture the most background — and look better when viewed on a widescreen computer or television.

* Don't always take photos of people posing for the camera as their expression can be can look forced, unnatural and predictable. Some of the best photos of subjects are when they don't realize they're being photographed — but be sure to get their permission before uploading to Facebook, YouTube, and so on.

* Apps can help you easily edit and share photos and videos on your phone (such as iPhoto and iMovie for iPhone users), while the free Instagram (Android and iPhone) adds fun filters such as a brownish sepiatone finish or a retro '70s look. There are thousands of apps available, for all platforms, so experiment away.

* Finally, avoid deleting unwanted photos from your smartphone: they may look great when viewed on a bigger screen; spending time deleting photos right after you took ones you don't like means you might miss an awesome shot; and removing photos prematurely drains the battery on your smartphone. It can wait.

Check out more tech trends and news at Digital Crave.

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