Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two mobile photo apps that will help you get to the next level

It's been a while since I've taken a "deep dive" into photography so I think it's time. If you want to take your smartphone photography to the next step, you should get two types of apps. The first will help you take better pictures; the second will help you understand how images are captured so you can go back to step one and take better pictures.

There are many apps that will do these things. I'm going to describe Shoot and Exif Photos for the iPhone; DSLR Camera Pro and JPEG Exif Viewer for Android appear to be similar although I have not used them.

Exif Metadata shown on the left
It's easy to "point and shoot" with any camera today but if you wonder why your pictures don't look as good as you think they should, these two apps will help. The camera app in your smartphone can be replaced by many others that you download. I really like Shoot that allows you to control exposure settings like you would with "real" cameras. If the scene is too dark and you can hold the camera steady, you might slow the shutter speed below 1/15 Sec - the default value for Apple's camera app.

Second, you should install an app like Exif Photos that lets you see the metadata - the information about a photograph - after it's taken. In addition to date and location, you can then see why a picture was bad - or maybe good! If it looks grainy, you could see that the ISO was very high; if it's blurry, you might notice the shutter speed was too slow for an action shot. Remember there are really only three settings that determine image quality - shutter speed, ISO and lens opening (aperture). By using these apps, you can learn the basics of how a camera works and gradually improve your own images.

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