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Centenary Photographic Competition - Photography tips

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Tips for using camera phones

While you will get more control and better quality using a camera, smartphones have come a long way in the past few years and if you don't have the time or inclination to carry around a large camera, your smartphone (or even tablet) is often more than enough to get a great photo.

There are several websites that provide advice on how to make the most of photos taken with your phone. Try looking at this Beginners' Guide or Phone Photography 101.

Key things to remember are:

  • Often better to turn the phone sideways and use two hands to take the picture as this minimises camera shake.
  • If there is strong contrast in the scene (a light area and a dark area) or you find that you cannot get the sun behind you, the HDR (high dynamic range) setting will generally give a better image that is closer to what the eye sees. Note that this can mute the colours slightly and add a slight blur, so you may want to enhance the image afterward for best results.
  • Use a tripod or some sort of support, even just someone's shoulder, and turn on the camera grid lines to help you align and compose the image. The best images typically have the main subject within one of the thirds of the frame.
  • Try to get as much lighting, especially natural lighting (sunlight) as possible. The hours after sunrise and after sunset are usually the best light for photos but, in any case, use the phone camera flash as little as possible as it often does not improve the result.
  • Use digital zoom as little as possible and probably never above 2x. Just get closer, or maybe try an add-on lens. The more you zoom in, the more unsteady the shot will become.
  • If you find the built-in camera app on your phone is too basic or difficult to use, Google Camera is worth a look, and may give you more control of how the image turns out.

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