When I travel, I tend to measure every ounce of the stuff I carry. From backpacks to sleeping bags, the weight of the gear is the first detail to be checked as a rule. For me, travelling with a DSLR is hardly the convenient option. It simply increases the weight of my gear exponentially but since I've been able to click pretty interesting pictures in the past, I often like to experiment with my phone camera and see how I can make the best of it.
There are tips and tricks to improve your phone photography if you're planning to rely completely on your phone camera on your next adventure.
How to get better at phone photography
1. Truth be told, bad light is better light.
If you have been in awe of the landscape shots of amazing sunsets and sunrises, it's because of the different colours the low-light setting offers you. During afternoons, we often see direct harsh lights on the photographs we click and that often messes up the clarity of the image. Become an early bird, watch the sunsets, go out on overcast or cloudy days, click on the brightest patch of shade and click amazing pictures while you have natural indirect light getting filtered through trees or natural obstacles. Make sure there is no direct hard sun on your photographs.
2. Lead the eye through the lines in the frame
Look for the lines within the natural frame. If there's a skyscraper, making a vertical line across the frame, adjust your frame it. Vertical lines in a photograph give an impression of a movement within the picture.
Horizontal lines (though uneven) give a sense of stillness and depth to the photograph. Search for horizontal lines in the frame especially when you're clicking landscapes.
Diagonal lines across the image often make the photograph look more dynamic and give a sense of action to the elements within the photograph.
3. Use Grids To Compose A Frame
Phone photography is made easier as most smartphone camera applications offer grids to compose better photographs. Two horizontal and two vertical lines on the frame create 9 grids. Mostly by placing the subject at the centre of the grids, you get a more clean and aesthetically composed photograph. Even when you shift the centre of the subject to the side grids, you can make a balanced composition by using the rule of thirds: always place your subject aligned to the grid lines or on their intersection.
4. Be camera ready all the time using burst mode
Relying on your phone camera also means that you have to be ready for shooting outside your car window. To click pictures in motion make sure you use the burst/release mode available on your phone. Most Android and iPhones have this feature to help you shoot multiple images using a prolonged click.
5. Use editing software for levelling the landscape with the horizon
What makes a landscape photograph stand out is the perfect framing. When you click with your phone or even a camera, you often miss out on those perfect dimensions that you see in professional photographs. To set things right, you can use several photo editing softwares, or the straightening tool on Android or iPhone photo editors.
6. Shoot in portrait mode when shooting for Instagram
Instagram now supports images clicked in both landscape and portrait modes. Instagram is obviously no longer just about square photos. But aesthetically, the square image are still the best choice for Instagram.
7. Use the volume key to get more stable shots
Just as wireless remotes work on DSLRs to click the images with better stability, the hack for smartphones is to use the the volume-low button on your earphones to get more stable photographs.
8. Bring your subject into focus and click
Put your subject in focus all the time, as a rule. When you simply point and click, everything stays in focus and there is no depth to the image. Touch on the shadow areas within the frame and to get the best exposure. Lock the focus by holding the square box for at least 3 seconds. On most of the Android and iPhone cameras you can get the exposure right by sliding your finger up and down the screen.
9. You’re aware of your phone’s camera shortcuts before you go!
The best thing about using your phone's camera on the go is the freedom to make the best of the moment and click photographs instantly, without fumbling. It's essential to know how to quickly launch camera from a lock screen. To access camera directly iPhones have a shortcut on the lock screen. You can also use custom lock screen apps like Magic Locker Main, WidgetLocker Lock Screen to customise your camera and other app shortcuts.
10. Reduce the filter settings by 50% when you edit images
Photo editing goes wrong especially when we're addicted to using filters and make unrealistic changes to the pictures. All the filters on Instagram and on the photo editing softwares like VSCO and Snapseed can be reduced to give a more realistic appearance to your photograph.