Are you planning going on a photography trip and only want to take pictures on your phone? Well here’s our handy guide on how to take great travel pictures with only your smartphone.
Smartphone cameras have the ability to capture shots just as good as a professional digital camera, but you have to know a little more than just tapping a screen to get those unforgettable moments. Don’t be the person who always takes wack photos and can’t properly capture the litness.
Here is our ultimate guild to smartphone travel photography.
- Invest in Smartphone Photography Gear
SmartPhone lenses are better than ever, but there’s only so much you can do with lenses less than a centimeter across. That’s where clip-on lenses come in! The extra glass can let in a lot more light and give you better control of exposure, color temperature and other parameters via the apps.
Tripod or Stand
Stabilizing your camera is an important step to ensure the images of your product come out sharp and consistent. There are plenty of budget-friendly options available so a tripod is well worth the investment.
Camera shake = blurry photos. Every time your hand taps the screen to snap a photo, you run the risk of shaking the camera while it’s capturing the image. Even a small movement can make a big difference in the quality and sharpness of the photo and result in losing important detail of your product. Wireless remotes are inexpensive (most less than $10) and easily connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
- Stop zooming your photos
Never zoom! Unlike professional cameras that utilize optical zoom, smartphones rely on digital zoom when shooting, which results in grainy, distorted photos that look like they were taken on a bodega security camera.
- Never take a picture with a filter pre-applied
Never take the photo with a filter pre-applied. Get your clean shot first, and then apply a filter. Although smartphone cameras have come very far in the last couple of years, the camera app that comes pre-installed in your phone is likely to be very bare bones. Free apps like Lightroom, Snapseed and VSCO or paid options like Camera+ are a perfect opportunity to take your shot to the next level with subtle, finely tuned filters that will have your pics looking like they were edited by a pro.
- Avoiding the crowds
Avoiding the crowds is important in order to get clean travel photographs. You don’t want to let those thousands of people ruin your once in a lifetime shots, and there are a few good tips how keep this from happening.
If you’re shooting in the city, your best bet is to shoot at sunrise. Usually there are no more than a few people passing by and the occasional fellow photographer to share the site with. The light will be great and it’s nice and quiet.
Another tip is the travel season. If you’re going to a destination when it’s low season, it’s highly possible that there’s only few other tourists around and you can also shoot most places at sunset without the high season crowds. Think outside the box and go off the beaten path. Try to find new locations or angles of famous places. Sometimes you can find a nice view of a famous spot if you do a little exploring. Most people will be shooting that iconic photo spot, while you can have your own spot all to yourself.
- Wipe your lens. Regularly.
As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised at how many dope pics are lost because of a dirty lens. Think about it: your phone is in and out of your jeans all day (with keys, lint, dirt, your oily hands, and who knows what else). It’s almost guaranteed that something’s on your camera lens. Take a quick swipe to clear the grit before you frame your shot so that you won’t have blurry photos.
- Use the HDR Setting.
When travelling, you’re bound to encounter landscapes, cityscapes, and other famous spots that are composed of vivid colours with varying exposure tones. Depending on the time of day and lighting condition, it may be challenging to capture outdoor scenes the way you see them with your eyes as your photos will usually end up with a darker foreground and brighter background.
The HDR or “High Dynamic Range” setting on your smartphone camera can help you solve this problem by balancing out the darkest and lightest aspects of the photo. When enabled, your camera will do this by taking three differently exposed shots within an interval of milliseconds and fusing them together in one photo. Since an HDR photo is an integration of three shots, it is also very important that you keep your camera still while it captures these photos.
- Frame Your Shot
To make your photos easy on the eye, get familiar with one of the basic rules of photography, the Rule of Thirds. Lucky for you, your smartphone’s camera has the option to help you quickly apply the rule. In your phone’s settings, turn on the option to view a grid, which will apply guiding lines over your screen when taking your photos to help you properly frame your shot to be pleasing to the eye. According to the theory of the Rule of Thirds, people’s eyes generally go to one of the intersection points instead of the center of the shot when viewing a photo. Using the rule works with the natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.
Placing a subject of interest in the intersections or along the lines helps your photo become more balanced and appealing to the viewer. Get creative! And once you’ve mastered the rule, break it. That’s what rules were made for, right?
- Capture Candid emotion
Not every shot has to be people looking at the camera. When people and the vibes are good and the laughs are loud, casually take the camera out and snag a couple shots without people knowing it. Be quick and put the camera away. Share with your friends later that night and they’ll appreciate you for it. You’re are pro now. People love pro photos.
Do you have any tips for upping your travel photo game? Let us know in the comments below!