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7 tips for better snaps

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With most smartphones sporting great cameras, it is very easy to take a picture while on the go. But, how do you get the most out of the camera? Here are seven tips.

Smartphones have democratised photography, giving everyone the opportunity to unlock their creativity. Though it’s easy to snap a picture, it takes some technical suss and imagination to create a photograph that will get your friends on Facebook and Instagram talking.

The good news, however, is that nearly anyone can learn how to take great snaps, provided they learn some basic disciplines and practice them until they become second nature. And with camera technology in smartphones improving all the time, these devices help you to capture meaningful moments and beautiful images wherever you are. After all, the best camera is the one with you, which is most likely to be your phone.

Here are some general tips from HTC for using your smartphone camera to capture better photos:

1.    Pay attention to your background

Don’t get so caught up in focusing on your subject that you pay no attention to the background. For example, you don’t want to include the pavement rubbish bins when you’re taking a photo of your friend. Rather move closer or ask the person you’re photographing to step to the side to exclude the unwanted detail from the frame.

2.    Choose a perspective

Take your photographs from unusual perspectives to create interesting effects. Shoot upwards from a low angle to make things look large, or take your shot from a higher angle to make things look smaller or to capture a larger area of detail

3.    Zoom with your feet

Zooming with your camera phone results in pixelation and increases sensitivity to camera shake, resulting in blurred imagery. Rather get closer to your subject for the perfect close-up.

4.    Avoid camera shake

To lessen camera shake, be as still as possible while shooting: take a deep breath in, hold, snap, breathe out.

5.    Avoid using your flash

Using flash can give your photos a sterile, over-lit look, which can be especially harsh on faces. If you must use flash, why not cover it with some tracing paper to soften the effect?

6.    Learn which apps and filters you love

Experiment with filters apps like Instagram to create a style that you like. When people see a pic with a particular filter, they’ll recognise your style. Pro tip: The VSCO app provides filters that are emulations of popular film cameras. There are hundreds of combinations you can create with the number of filters provided.

7.    Use apps to enhance your photos

Great photos are made in the editing process. Pro photographers almost always touch up their photos to get the exact look and effect they want. An app like Snapseed offers you basic editing tools and some cool filters to get you started. It also offers some features for heavy-duty editing once you’re more experienced.

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YouTube Music announces Smart Downloads, SA playlists

The service has introduced Smart Downloads which takes allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically.

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The latest updates from YouTube Music, for subscribers of its Music Premium and Premium services, include a new feature that allows users to switch seamlessly between a song and its music video for an uninterrupted experience.

It has also introduced Smart Downloads which takes the work out of downloading music, allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically. YouTube Music has also announced new playlists for South Africa. 

The updates all reflect features that are popular on the global leader in music streaming, Spotify, and that have been key to its growth.

YouTube said in a statement on Friday: “Imagine listening to a new track by your favourite artist in the YouTube Music app and having the ability to seamlessly switch over to watch the music video – no pauses, no interruptions, just a simple tap that keeps the music flowing. This standout new feature from YouTube Music allows YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium subscribers to make a seamless transition between a song and its music video for uninterrupted listening and/or watching. Whether you’re in the mood for listening or watching (or a little of both)… it’s all here – no app switching required.”

With Smart Downloads, YouTube Music automatically saves music at night, when connected to Wi-Fi, helping subscribers to use less mobile data, enjoy a smoother updating experience and save up to 500 songs offline using Liked Songs playlist as well as other playlists and albums. 


Previously, music lovers could use the Offline Mixtape feature to download up to 100 songs, specifically chosen for them based on what they listened to most on the platform. Now, with Smart Downloads, they select the number of songs they would like automatically downloaded by toggling their YouTube Music Settings. This means YouTube Music Premium subscribers with Smart Downloads enabled on their mobile devices can now access hundreds of tracks regardless of connectivity. 

This feature is currently available on Android, with plans to bring it to iOS in the future.

Click here to read more about YouTube Music playlists, and find out what is inside them.

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Make cars, not waste

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Jaguar Land Rover is trialling an innovative recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. 

It’s estimated that the amount of waste plastic is predicted to exceed 12 million tonnes globally by 2050*. Today, not all of this plastic can be recycled for use in automotive applications – especially in vehicle parts that are required to meet the most exacting safety and quality standards.

Working in conjunction with chemical company, BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into a new high-quality material. 

The waste plastic is transformed to pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources; ultimately producing a new premium grade that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics. Importantly, it can be tempered and coloured making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmoulding to verify it meets the same stringent safety requirements of the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new premium material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise to quality or safety performance**. 

Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover, we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics across our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

This is the latest example of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to addressing the challenge of waste plastic. The company has collaborated with Kvadrat to offer customers alternative seat options that are both luxurious and sustainable. The high-quality material, available initially on the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque, combines a durable wool blend with a technical suedecloth that is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle. 

Jaguar Land Rover has already met its 2020 target for Zero Waste to Landfill for UK operations. This includes the removal of 1.3 million m2 – equal to 187 football pitches – of plastic from its manufacturing lineside and replacing 14 million single use plastic items in business operations. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for Destination Zero; an ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Delivered through relentless innovation to adapt its products and services to the rapidly-changing world, the company’s focus is on achieving a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion.

Editor’s notes:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full

** All Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles tested have achieved a Euro NCAP 5* rating.

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