Better Holiday Photos Using Your Smartphone

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Better Holiday Photos Using Your Smartphone
Getty ThinkStock

Every year during the holidays, family and friends get together to celebrate. These get-togethers are, of course, the perfect time for photos. These days, you're pretty likely to use your smartphone. And while it's convenient, your phone might not give you the best photo. That's okay; here are some simple ways to take better smartphone photos.

Shoot Holiday Lights
Getty ThinkStock

Shoot Holiday Lights

The holidays are a great time to photograph lights. Unfortunately, your smartphone usually isn't smart enough to do them justice.

This year, try using an app that slows down the shutter on your smartphone, allowing the sensor to pick up more of the available light. On the iPhone, use an app called SlowShutter ($.99). You'll be able to adjust exposure time and capture some amazing photos of lights.

Some Android devices come with the option to control shutter speed, while others require an app such as Camera FV-5 Lite.

Dowload SlowShutter

Improve Night Exposures
Getty ThinkStock

Improve Night Exposures

Shooting lights is tricky, even when you use a long-exposure. Here's another tip: Make sure your smartphone measures the exposure in a dark region of the scene -- not directly on the lights. By tapping on a dark area, your phone will adjust the exposure to compensate for the bright lights, giving you the ideal lighting for a photo of lights.

Add a Lens to Your iPhone
Olloclip

Add a Lens to Your iPhone

Adding a lens attachment to your smartphone lets you expand the capabilities of your camera without lugging around a giant DSLR camera.

For the iPhone, the lens to have is Olloclip's 4-in-1. For $69.99 you can take advantage of a wide-angle lens (doubling the amount of space captured in a photo or video), a fisheye lens, and two macro lenses for close up shots of decorations. Each one of these modes comes in handy at the holidays, but the wide angle setting is especially handy for capturing everyone around the crowded dinner table.

Visit Olloclip.com for more information

Add a Lens to Your Android
Photojojo

Add a Lens to Your Android

For Android, Photojojo offers a selection of lenses. You can choose which lenses you'd like, ranging from a telephoto to a fisheye and a wide/macro lens. Individual lenses will set you back $20, or you can buy the entire kit for $45.

For extra convenience, the lenses attach magnetically. This makes it easy to use the lenses with a variety of devices, sometimes without even taking them out of their cases.

Visit Photojojo for more information.

Edit Photos on iOS
Apple

Edit Photos on iOS

It only takes one glance at your phone's app store to realize there's no shortage of photo editing apps.

On iOS you have quite a few options, including iPhoto and Camera+. iPhoto can be a bit intimidating; it's not always clear how the adjustment will affect your photos. For a more automated process -- in which only a few buttons have to be tapped to make your photo look fabulous -- Camera+ is your app.

You can quickly add filters, adjust lighting, and share your edited photos. iPhoto is free, while Camera+ costs $1.99.

Download iPhoto for iOS

Edit Photos on Android
Nik Software

Edit Photos on Android

For Android, Snapseed is the app to beat. Snapseed provides an easy and intuitive method for altering and enhancing photos. You're able to apply and adjust the strength of filters, straighten, crop and bring out more details in photos directly on your smartphone.

Snapseed is free and available in the Play Store. (And iOS users aren't left out --- the same app is available in the App Store should they want to give it a try.)

Download Snapseed from the Google Play Store

Take Steadier Pictures
Joby

Take Steadier Pictures

Whether you're using the built-in timer on your Android or letting an app like Camera+ on iOS count down to exposure, it's easy to be included in the shot.

But ensuring the phone is propped up properly can sometimes feel like a circus act. Instead of balancing your phone against a coffee mug, get a tripod specifically made for smartphones.

Joby offers the GripTight Micro Stand ($29.95) that holds a range of various smartphones with different screen sizes, and it comes with a small stand that makes it easy to position your phone.

Visit Joby's website for more information.

Take Photos Remotely
Weavr

Take Photos Remotely

Another way to ensure your photo is movement-free is to set up a remote shutter release. This may sound complicated, but it's as simple as plugging headphones into your iPhone or Android.

On the iPhone, you can use the Volume Up button to snap photos, and that works with the Apple EarPods as well. Plug your headphones in, set your camera in a tripod, and use the Volume Up button on your headphones to snap away. For Android, you'll need to download a $2.60 app called Vignette.

Download Vignette from the Google Play Store.

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