There’s a type of photography that was once never thought possible on a smartphone and that’s HDR, or High Dynamic Range photography. Dynamic Range is the range between the lightest and darkest parts of an image. The camera, any camera, cannot “see” the dynamic range that a human eye can see so in order to capture the same essence of a scene that we ourselves see, we need to do a little extra with the camera. And this can be accomplished quite easily or in a more complex manner.
The simple way is to enable the HDR feature of your phone’s camera. This can be found at the top of the screen when the camera is turned on. The native HDR function in your phone will take two photos, one exposed for the highlight areas, the other exposed of the shadow areas. The phone will choose the best parts of the two frames and put them together to produce one well exposed image.
To take this process further and to achieve noticeably better results there are many apps available for HDR work. The one I think works best is vividHDR, which is iPhone only, but there are plenty available for Android devices. vividHDR takes 5 bracketed exposures to produce its HDR photos, and while its best to use a tripod for this type of work, vividHDR does a great job with image alignment when shooting hand held. Also with vividHDR you are given 5 choices of image renders to save from. They are Natural HDR, Lively (a little saturated), Dramatic (more saturation and contrast), Black and White, and Faded (decreased saturation).
One of my favourite camera apps, ProCamera for the iPhone, has vividHDR built in. The following images illustrate how a normal shot looks compared to a Lively HDR from ProCamera.