iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, HTC One, LG G5 - the list is endless, but these pocket-sized devices have changed the way we capture our travel stories forever. What was once recorded in a travel journal is now recorded permanently and shared with people all around the world, on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the web.
Taking good quality photos while you travel can make it much easier for your friends and family to follow along with your journey. Here are our Top 9 Phone Photography tips from a published iPhone photographer & Kiwi Experience Driver Guide!
Keep it Simple
Steve Jobs used to say, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and he was clearly onto something. Avoid complicated photos, by simply removing people and objects from the shot. Think about your composition, and choose just one really interesting subject. Your photos are going to be viewed on a small screen, so the simpler, the better!
A unique perspective can often be found down low. Drop to your knee, or lower, and get a unique angle that others simply won’t see. An interesting foreground will certainly add to your photos.
By nature of being a phone, your lens will often get dirty. To make sure you are shooting the best possible photo, take the time to clean the lens. A small cloth - like those used for cleaning glasses, can be a lifesaver, and a photo saver while you are travelling!
Light It Up
But not with the flash. Turn the flash off and leave it off. Phone flashes are not strong enough to have any real impact, and they will often overexpose your subject. Instead make use of natural light, or if you must, use another phone in torch mode and adjust the angle to reduce the harshness.
Avoid using the zoom feature of your phone at all costs. Because phones only have a digital zoom function, they reduce the quality by increasing the size of the pixels, making the photos seem poor quality. Instead, get closer!
Use a 3rd Party Camera App
Giving you almost all the controls of a full sized DSLR, ProShot is our current go to. For $4, this app will give you control over exposure, ISO, shutter speed, white balance and will even allow you to do light painting!
Keep it Steady
Using a small tripod will make your photos a lot better. You can use your headphones as a shutter release so you don’t get shutter stutter when you tap the screen. Doing this will enable you to take long exposure photos, so you can get that dreamy looking waterfall shot, even on your phone. Hint: Try Slow Shutter Cam for iPhone - it’s only $2 and will take great photos of waterfalls and water when used with a small tripod. Another option we've used is the Shoulderpod. While it can be mounted on a tripod, it can also be placed on a flat surface.
Turn on HDR
Because the sensor on your phone’s camera is small, using HDR mode enables you to get better images. The camera will take 2 or more photos, and automatically stitch these together which will give better exposure to parts of the photo that might be under or over exposed.
Edit Your Photos!
Choosing the right app, or apps, and workflow is important. The best thing about arguably the 2 top editing apps is they are both FREE!
Snapseed - start here and use this app to crop the photo (think about where you will use it), add details and structure, and perform basic editing using the tune image function. Advanced users will find the selective tool particularly powerful!
VSCO - the app of choice for many professional instagramers, this app has lots of built-in filters that you can experiment with to create your own personal style.
Share with the World
Now you're taking your photos, make sure you share them with us so we can share them with the world. Tag your photos with #kiwiexperience to tag us on Facebook and Instagram. And add us on Snapchat - travelkiwi and make sure you send us your photos while you're travelling around NZ. And it gets better. Every month, we pick the best photo and give that person a full refund on their pass, just for sharing their Kiwi Experience with us and the world!