Community & Current Events

Get more from your smartphone camera

By: Jill Buchner

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Community & Current Events

Get more from your smartphone camera

By: Jill Buchner
The digital age is all about recording life. Today we can capture everything on our phones. First steps, gourmet meals, mischievous pets—even snapshots of funny fails end up on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

But just carrying around a smartphone camera doesn't make you a skilled photographer. In fact, many photos and videos in our smartphone albums leave much to be desired. Luckily, technology is advancing to give our photos and videos a boost. Here are five ways to take your smartphone photography to the next level.

1. Angle up.
Ignore this advice if you're taking a selfie and don't want a double-chin, but when you're looking to photograph an inspiring sculpture, a tree or an out-of-the-ordinary portrait, shooting from below adds interest and power to your subject. Simply hold your phone at a new angle and you'll give a fresh perspective to your subject.

Tip: Don't be afraid of a little empty space. A simple subject shot from below with a wide expanse of sky behind it can be quite the statement.

2. Focus wisely.
Tapping the screen of your phone tells your camera where to focus and how to expose the photo. Don't leave it up to chance. Strategically choose where to focus the image by tapping there. You don't always have to focus on the subject; try focusing on the background once in a while. Where you focus will also impact how much light is in the photo. If you have an iPhone 6, use Exposure Control to experiment with different exposures before snapping the photo.

Tip: Didn't achieve the focus you wanted? You can fix that with AfterFocus once you've taken your photo. The app allows you to outline the exact part of the image you want in focus, and blur the rest to your desired effect.

3. Go slo-mo.
Whether you're recording your daughter's winning goal or your cat's gymnast-like abilities, motion is cooler when it's captured in slow-mo. On the iPhone, you can select the portion you want to slow down after the filming is done. That way, you can highlight the perfect dramatic moment—one you might later set to a well-suited song.

Tip: Avoid following the motion with your phone; hold your hand still while filming in slo-mo to let the motion speak for itself.

4. Speed it up.
The iPhone 6 has a feature called Time-lapse, which lets you capture super cool yet super slow events, such as a setting sun or a blooming flower, in a quick-moving video. When set to Time-lapse mode, the camera takes a succession of photos at regular intervals, then strings them together in an energetic life-on-fast-forward video.

Tip: The intervals you choose to snap the timed photos at will determine the tone and pacing of your final video. You might capture short intervals of dark clouds overhead to showcase a seamless video of the ominous approaching storm, whereas long intervals would better suit a busy street in order to emphasize the abrupt change and fast-moving pace of the scene.

5. Filter it.
None of us gets every photo perfect, but luckily there are filters to help us enhance the good and hide the not-so-good parts of our photos. The right filter can quiet background noise, and we all look better with a little vintage effect to soften our harshly lit features. Try apps like Snapseed or VSCO Cam to find filters that can perk up your photo or smooth over its imperfections.

Tip: Perhaps the coolest filter is another photo itself. When you're feeling artsy, try layering one photo over another using an app like Layover or Instant Blend. You'll want to print off your original work, frame it and hang it on the wall.

Looking to showcase all your great photography? Get four tips for creating a gorgeous gallery wall
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Community & Current Events

Get more from your smartphone camera