There are plenty of things you can do, both at home and at your destination, to make your travel photography a fun and creative experience. Research, planning, and practice will ensure that you not only make the most of your photo opportunities but create them as well, resulting in more and better pictures.
Taking photos with a smartphone’s camera is no different from using any other type of camera. Apply the same basic photography skills as you do when you’re using a compact or DSLR. Poor technique by the camera-phone owner plays a big part in the success or otherwise of the outcome. As with all cameras, the aim is to get the most out of the equipment you’ve got by working within its limits.
Internationally renowned travel photographer Richard I’Anson shows you how to avoid common photography mistakes and to develop your compositional and technical skills as a photographer. The following suggestions will help you get the best out of your smartphone camera:
1.If you have the choice set the smartphone’s camera resolution to the highest setting. Images will take longer to save and send but they will be the best quality your device can deliver. Shoot raw, if it’s offered, if you have the interest, time, and ability to process the files using image editing software.
2. When composing your shot make sure the lens has focused on the subject. If not recompose until focus is correct. Alternatively, touch your desired focus point on the screen and the lens will focus there.
3. Avoid using digital zoom. Move closer rather than zoom if your smartphone does not have the optical zoom feature. When you pinch the screen to zoom on a camera with the digital zoom you are effectively cropping the image, reducing the resolution, and often degrading the image file quite dramatically.
4. Smartphones have two cameras; one on the front and one on the back. The back camera is the better one with significantly higher resolution. The main consequence of this is that selfies are not as clear and sharp as they could be.
5. Dive into the camera settings and see if you have any manual camera controls. Some of the higher-end cameras allow you to adjust white balance, ISO and shutter speed which can be used to good effect to improve pictures in many situations such as action and low light photography.
6. If your smartphone camera doesn’t offer manual controls or as many as you’d like, download a third-party camera app that builds on the basic functionality of the smartphone camera to improve performance with manual controls and creative functions.
7. Shoot in the brightest possible light and avoid low light. When indoors, turn lights on and have subjects face the light (adjust the white balance to suit if the phone allows). In very low light use the flash, indoors, and outdoors, but remember its range will be around 1m and remember also that direct flash is rarely flattering to your subject. If your subject is backlit and you want to avoid capturing a silhouette, turn on the flash.
8. Fill the frame with your subject, by moving closer or using optical zoom. You’ll also avoid having to crop into the frame afterward, which will lower the image quality. Experiment to find the minimum focusing distance. Watch for distortion that can occur when you get too close.
9. Hold the phone steady. The shutter release button isn’t always in the best place for achieving a steady hand. Concentrate on holding it steady, especially in low-light situations as the camera will select a slower shutter speed to compensate for the low light level and blur is likely. If your phone has image stabilisation leave it turned on.
10. Shoot both verticals and horizontals. Experiment with the camera and get to know its features, strengths, and weaknesses before you find yourself in an important picture-taking situation. And don’t forget to keep the lens clean.