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Taking selfies

Tech Talk

Okay, I get it. I had hoped the whole selfie thing would be over by now. But it's turned out to be an excellent way to get yourself into your pictures. Now that your smartphone has a zillion megapixels, night modes, light and depth sensors, and even solar panels, for all we know, you can take some excellent selfies. Here's how.


Since you're taking a picture of yourself, or maybe you and some of your friends, you and your friends should be front and center in the shot. In photography speak, that's called the foreground. If the background has a lot going on or is visually striking, it might detract from your photo. A neutral, textured background is best. If you like your location, though, most smartphones have a portrait mode that uses depth sensors on your phone to blur objects in the background of your shot. That dreamy, out-of-focus look is called the bokeh effect. Fun fact, bokeh is a Japanese word meaning "blur" or "haze." If you don't want to bokeh your selfie, take that shot with a busy background, and later you can crop it so you stand out. Of course, the location might be necessary if it's a landmark or a scenic spot. The general rule of photography is there aren't any rules.


Smartphones have small light sensors, so the more light you have, the better. Natural light is the best, whether outside enjoying the sunshine or even inside near a window. Try not to face the sun directly when you're out, or you'll squint at your phone. Sunglasses can fix this, but how can we see your beautiful eyes if sunglasses hide them? Instead, try putting the sun behind you as you take the photo and see how that looks. Overcast days produce the best natural light since the clouds are a natural diffuser. If you're really into this outdoor selfie thing, you might think about a bounce card. A bounce card bounces light where it's needed. A piece of cardboard covered with white or cream-colored construction paper makes a compact, portable bounce card. Move the card and the light it bounces around as you take your shots and see how it affects your photo.

Look up

Angles are essential; you get them in selfies from where and how you hold your phone. When taking selfies, most people have the phone a bit over their head and take the shot. Tilting the phone slightly toward or away from you can emphasize your location or the people in your image. The overhead selfie shot is the most flattering picture because it can appear to extend your jawline and hide wrinkles and other things we don't like about images with us.

Ring lights

If you shoot most of your selfies inside and are tired of how desk lamps and incandescent lights make you look, you can make better light by getting a ring light. Just like it sounds, ring lights are circles with LED lights around the circumference. It can adjust to different shades of white, making you look your best. Ring lights come as small lights you can stick onto your phone or lights so big you need a separate stand.

Don't use a stick

Selfie sticks take the same-looking picture every time, usually with your arm fading into the foreground. A small tripod can change that. You can set up a tripod on any solid object like a rock, the fender of a motorcycle, or the railing on a gondola. Your phone's camera app has a timer function to take the photo, or many smartwatches can also trigger the photo. The picture will appear more natural than a typical selfie, too.

A giant pickle walks into a bar...

And everyone in the bar wants to take selfies with him and buy him drinks. Once all the commotion settles, the bartender asks him why everyone was surrounding him, to which the pickle replies, "Well, I'm kind of a big dill."

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected].