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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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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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