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5 tips for better smartphone photos

Wednesday - 9/25/2013, 3:57am  ET

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Interesting items in the foreground can improve your smartphone photos (Courtesy Cedric Terrell)

Sarah Weimar, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Most of us have experienced the disappointment of a photogenic moment that vanished in the blink of an eye, because a camera wasn't handy.

Enter the smartphone.

"The best camera is whatever one you have," says local photographer Cedric Terrell.

Smartphones have built-in cameras which means a camera is always nearby, but getting a good photograph can be challenging, given the camera's limitations.

Yet, Terrell says the smartphone comes packed with tools and applications that can help take a great -looking shot.

Terrell says it's possible to minimize the phone's limitations while maximizing its positives, and offers five examples.

  1. Avoid your camera's flash. "The most important thing about taking pictures, whether it's with a phone or camera, is lighting," said Terrell. Avoid using the phone's built in flash. "It's not meant to take good photos, it's just meant to give you a bright burst of light that's not going to be flattering."

  2. Zoom with your feet. Terrell says using the camera's zoom function decreases the image quality, because the smartphone's digital zoom is inferior to a camera's optical zoom. "The best thing to do is to just get closer and get right up to the subject."

  3. Adjust exposure. "Use the features that your phone has already built into it," says Terrell. Adjust a photo's exposure by tapping on different areas of the screen. "If you tap on a spot that's dark, it will brighten it up and if you tap on a spot that's light, it will darken it a little bit."

  4. Upgrade your selfie. Most selfies are taken by a person stretching their arm as far as possible to get their face in the frame. "I always tell people to get the phone out of your hand," says Terrell. He says photo apps with self- timers let you place the phone on a table and compose a more flattering self- portrait.

  5. Alter your perspective. Taking all your photos from eye level is boring, says Terrell. He'll often bend down to get a more interesting perspective on what he's photographing, and uses foreground or background objects to frame the subject.

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