How to take better holiday snaps

By Your Mobile Life on at

When you finally get a chance to take off on your hols, the last thing you want is to be contactable 24/7. That said, it is certainly a smart move to pack your GALAXY Note II in your man-bag, as the remarkable eight megapixel back-illuminated sensor (BSI) camera and Samsung’s fully-featured Camera app will ensure you get the best photos to remember your trip.

Just don’t forget to pop your Note II on Flight Mode to avoid those bothersome work calls and emails on your break from the day-to-day grind!

The Note II’s Camera app is an absolute godsend for those holidaymakers who want to shoot and edit stunning memories of their 2013 vacations. Samsung has packed loads of awesome features into this intuitive app, including auto-focus, face detection and a quick, capable digital zoom. What’s more, the flash on the Note II is extremely strong, which is dead handy for shooting late into the night.

The Note II’s Best Photo option is particularly useful for auto-selecting the best shot from several taken in quick bursts. And the Panorama feature really does justice when you want to snap some hugely impressive sweeping vistas on your travels.

Finally, a holiday is nothing if you can’t show off your snaps immediately online, winding up mates and family stuck back at home, which is where Samsung’s Buddy photo share feature, which identifies and lets you share pics quickly and easily with commonly viewed friends, always comes in useful.

Samsung’s Note II Camera features, its serious image processing nous and extensive customisation settings, such as the options to change the ISO and exposure for advanced snappers, mean that you will be shooting with live Instagram-like filters, creating high dynamic range images and sweeping, impressive panoramas in almost no time at all.

In addition to Samsung’s own rather splendid Camera app there are also a number of decent photography and photo-editing apps available to download on the Google Play Store for those travelers and tourists who want to experiment with different camera features and effects to tart up their holiday pics.

However, don’t worry too much if, in the rush of packing, you forget to load any of the top photo apps we recommend below onto your Note II before you set off on holiday - you will still be able to take some cracking photos.


Paper Artist

Free (bundled with phone)

Photographs are great but what if you could knock up a quick sketch or painting from your pics instead of a bog-standard old holiday snap? Would-be Picassos and David Hockneys might want to go all out and use the S Pen to paint a masterpiece on their Note II with an app like Infinite Painter.

However, for most users who don’t want to waste too much time on holidays crafting the perfect digital painting, Samsung’s own Paper Artist app does pretty much all of the work for you, quickly, easily and with the absolute bare minimum amount of fuss and bother.

Using a clever bit of image processing code, Paper Artist will turn any photo (either from the gallery or directly from the Note II’s camera) into a sketch, etching or painting. The results are effective, impressive and - as Paper Artist was designed with the Note II in mind - you can use the S Pen to draw over the top or 'scrape away' the painting to reveal the real image underneath, which creates some brilliant effects.




You can't talk about mobile digital photography without mentioning Instagram. If you have never used it before, Instagram is a camera replacement app that takes square pictures and lets you add filtering effects to make your pics look 'vintage' or otherwise enhanced.

Of course, you can use Samsung’s default Camera app to add a range of retro and vintage filters to your snapshots, though (Facebook-owned) Instagram is certainly worth considering for its impressive range of social features.

Your Instagram gallery is a social space, which means that you can be followed by (and follow back) other snappers. Commenting on each other's photos is fun and you can share you work via Twitter and Facebook very easily. 'Instagramming' may already be something of a cliché within certain tech circles but the app has a vibrant community and a genuine knack for making so-so pictures really pop.




If the thought of adding pseudo-vintage effect to your pictures fills you with horror you might prefer 500px. Another popular social photography app, 500px's community is intended for those snappers who appreciate a proper photograph and who know how to frame a scene without requiring an app to do the donkeywork for them.

That said, this IS an app, but one that is intended more for uploading pictures and browsing yours and your friends’ galleries than making photos look like they were found in a sock drawer last opened in the 1970s.




The built-in Panorama feature in your Note II's Camera app is a cracking way of taking sweeping 360-degree shots of any impressive vistas you happen upon on your travels.

Once you’re hooked, taking 360 panoramic pics is something you will want to do all the time, and Pano is the app to go for if you want to craft (and, possibly, print out) perfect poster-size 360-degree panoramic photographs with colour-correction and near-seamless stitching.

Pano takes 16 photos as you slowly rotate yourself and the Note II in a circle. Along one edge of the screen the app will show you a 'ghost' image from the edge of the previous picture so you can line things up correctly. Once you have all 16 the app will stitch things together, balance the colours and contrast and stick your panoramic photo in the phone's gallery.




Instagram's vintage effects are great, but not everyone likes the way you are forced into a square, cropped image. Pixlr-o-matic will let you take any picture you like and apply hundreds of effects and overlays (such as flashes of light, ethereal glows and scratches) and gives you a choice of nearly 300 different frames and borders.

The app is very simple to use and great fun to play around with. Once you have the picture you want it is simple to save it to your gallery or to share it on Facebook.




Aviary is a full-featured image editor for your Note II. As well as the now-standard photo effects, Aviary is a complete toolkit for making your photos look better. Those photo tinkerers who like to touch-up every detail in their favourite pics would ordinarily send their pics to their laptop and use something like Photoshop, but Aviary will let you do almost everything you want right on your phone.

Red-eye removal, cropping, colour balance, contrast and sharpness can all be tweaked with the wave of a finger or a quick flourish with the S Pen. There are even tools for whitening teeth or eyeballs and airbrushing out blemishes and wrinkles. Okay, it may be cheating, but why shouldn't you look your best in your beach photos?




Photoshake is a really simple way to turn groups of photos into colourful collages. Why settle for just one picture when you can cram a load into the same frame?

The 'shake' in the name comes from the eponymous feature that lets you literally shake a bunch of photos and let them fall into a random collage pattern. If that is a bit chaotic for your tastes you can of course build one manually.


Postagram Postcards


Sending postcards is a fun way to keep friends and family informed about how much fun you are having. Showing off, basically!

But it's always a shame to be stuck with the same boring views of the beach or a weak excuse for a locally-themed joke. Which is where Postagram can come to the rescue, letting you turn your holiday snaps into real cardboard postcards that you create on your phone and can then send anywhere in the world.

Our tip is to use one or more of the apps above to prepare your pic (such as Pixlr-o-matic and Aviary) before importing it into Postagram and making your card. There is a small postage fee for sending each card which varies according to destination but you do get a couple of cards free to try the service out with.




The OTHER big social photo-sharing site. Flickr may have fallen by the wayside compared to rivals in recent years but now it is back with an all-new Android app and looking healthier than it has in ages.

Where other sites are about single images, Flickr excels at creating galleries and animated slideshows of your images as well as helping you to organise them with tags and descriptions. It is easy to create both public and private galleries and there are plenty of photo communities on Flickr devoted to different types and subjects of photography.


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Best Photography Apps for the GALAXY Note II

S Pen-did! Top tips to harness S Pen power

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