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Take Better Photos

The ability to capture well composed, high quality imagery is easier to achieve than you might think. Whether using a camera phone, digital SLR, compact cam or Box Brownie, check out our top tips on how to effectively optimise your snaps...

Learn your camera's features

Smartphone cameras are incredibly powerful these days. And software developers are making image-editing apps by the bucket load. Combine the two and you have the perfect recipe for some beautiful, creative snaps. But first, please read the manual to find out how clicking each of those little symbols can affect your shots.

Many cameras phones include a low, medium, and high-resolution setting. Switching your camera phone to the highest setting will give you the best quality pictures. Warning: high quality images take up a lot of storage space, make sure you organise effectively. The difference in quality may not be immediately apparent on your phone screen, but you'll notice it on a larger monitor.

Learn basic composition techniques

A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look.

When you're just starting out, it's tempting to put whatever you're shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this often produces static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and place your subject on one of these imaginary intersections.

Lines are vital to the composition of an image. Lines are everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. Lines can also be implied, for example, by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.

Converging lines give a strong sense of perspective and depth, drawing the eye into an image. Curved lines lead the eye around the frame, guiding the viewer towards the main subject.

Use plain backgrounds

A plain background shows off the subject you are shooting. When you look through the camera phone's viewfinder, force yourself to study the area surrounding your subject. Make sure no poles grow from the head of your subject- this is incredibly distracting.

 Avoid low light

Unless your phone has a built-in flash, low light = bad picture. Without adequate lighting, your pictures will look dark and grainy.

Don't expect every situation in which you use natural light to be the same. The quality and color of the light will change according to the time of day, season and weather. Some days you'll have warm and yellow light, where as on others, natural light will possess a blue tint.

This is where using white balance (usually 'W/B' in settings menus) comes into play. You can use the settings to adapt to the conditions in order to achieve the tone of light you desire.

Snap happy

Since your phone is always with you, take advantage of capturing those spontaneous moments. You should take lots of pictures to increase your chance of capturing the right shot.

Don't worry about taking "too many photos". If you're trying to photograph your fidgety children, how can anyone expect to get a beautiful picture if he or she only snaps one pic? This is the same for pro photographers too. There's a delete function on your phone for a reason.

Apps

Afterlight is renowned for it's high quality preinstalled filters, presets, light leaks, textures, and some of the most precise editing tools. At only 69p, this iOS app is the perfect companion to your iPhone's built-in camera.

VSCO Cam. This free, minimalist iOS and Android app is popular among artsy types for good reason. You can take photos (and adjust focus and lighting) within the app, and then modify them using an extensive collection of subtle filters. For those in need of a bit of inspiration, you can also follow fellow photographers within the app's social network.

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