How to take awesome travel pictures with your smartphone

Using a DSLR camera is not everyone’s cup of tea. Nor is it handy for adventurous trips, treks etc. While the Go Pro, has largely resolved that issue, the humble smartphone (travelling without which is nearly unimaginable) is still the most popular gadget people pull out to take pictures.

With an almost unbelievable amount of technology packed in, the in-built camera in a mobile phone can also take some great shots if done the right way. Knowing what your camera phone is capable of and deploying the right features at the right time is all that you need to upgrade your clicks to another level. Here is a short guide:

Multi shots

Thank god it is not the era of the Kodak film. With digital photography you can take multiple shots and the scope for trial-and-error is far higher. Moreover, you can improvise with every shot you take. Add to that benefit, the speed and ease of a using an mobile camera and the heaps of editing apps available for the post shoot touch-up. So go out there and take multiple shots of the same thing until you find your best shot.

Work the HDR lighting magic

Photographers swear by early mornings and late afternoons, when the sun is low in the sky. And they warn against the natural light between 10 am to 3 pm as it can be harsh and creates deep shadows. The camera’s sensor is limited, so avoid lighting extremes or harsh light and dark shadows. Make use of your HDR feature when working with this kind of light to retain the ability to soften it later. The HDR mode automatically takes several photos at varying exposures and picks the best setting for you (as doing a quick light test). This setting is also great for sunsets and sunrises.  If you are competing with a well-lit background, get in closer and use the camera’s flash to lighten the foreground subject.

Play with the features

The latest additions to the camera app enable you to play with time, literally. The burst or time lapse and even slow mo allow you to go beyond the instant and apparent in still photography. An all time favourite is the panorama option. This a perfect setting to capture things like rolling landscapes that you aren’t able to capture fully in a regular photo. You simply change the mode and click while you move your phone horizontally or vertically. Vertical panoramas are a great way to capture waterfalls. Keep in mind that panorama will come out distorted if there’s much movement in the picture.

Another fun one to play around with is time lapse. This feature is perfect for capturing that sunset or bustling city scene or the traffic junction in Tokyo or simply the making of a Belgian waffle. Remember to stabilize your phone, using a tripod/monopod or even a rock before attempting this.

And for the quintessential jumping photo try the burst mode. Hold down the “photo” button on your camera. It will continuously take photos at a hyper speed. Select the photos you want to keep, and delete the rest.

Tip: If the person taking the photo gets low, it emphasizes the reach of the jump.

Post production

While taking photos and making sure you are applying all the basics of photography is important, editing the pictures after they are clicked go a long way in enhancing their beauty. If your phone has the option, chose to click in the RAW format – this will lead to large image files but you will use none of the details in the picture – which is imperative in post production. Even if you don’t have special editing apps, use the basic edit feature in your gallery that enhances exposure, lighting, saturation, and even offers various tones and modes like sepia, B/W etc. To add more oomph to your pictures, use apps like Boomerang that lets you take fun, animated gifs or popular ones like VSCO or Snapseed for editing stills.

If you really wish to turn your mobile camera into a DSLR-like tool go for Pro Camera 8, at Rs 300 (approximately) it’s one of the more expensive photo apps, but allows you to control exposure, shutter speed, noise removal, resolution, white balance, grids, HDR and more.

There is also a flip side to the power of the phone camera. While it has made taking pictures more accessible than ever, it has also made it very cheap – it costs almost no time or money to press the button. This leads people to forget that more than anything, it is the time you take to adsorb the sights and scenery and frame the shot, that makes the most difference in the worth of the shot.

With that we wish you a lot of happy clicking!




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