You probably already understand the importance of including a camera in your packing list when planning a holiday vacation. What you may not already understand is that using a camera is an art that you should master well in advance.
And no, you don’t have to enroll in formal photography classes to learn how to use a camera effectively. You only need to grasp some basic expert tips, and you’ll succeed in capturing professional-grade photos and videos using your phone camera. Read on as we explore the tips for taking amazing vacation photos with your phone.
Understand Your Sources of Light
Lighting conditions are the most significant aspect of any photograph, so it’s the first thing you want to consider when capturing those incredible vacation photos using your phone.
Always examine the direction where the natural light is coming from. If you’re taking photos indoors or in dim conditions, check for the direction of natural light from windows or overhead ceilings. Or, you might leverage the artificial light sources available, such as your lamps, flashlight, etc. to illuminate the object. And if you’re taking photos outdoors, you can always rely on the direct light from the sun.
If the light source is located directly above the object, take a few steps backward to reduce the light intensity before capturing the photographs. Another best practice is to take a photo of the object with its back facing the main light source to minimize light exposure.
Know When to Use the Flash and When Not To
A flash is ideal when there’s no other source of light available, or if the light intensity is low, as is often the case at twilight. Otherwise, never use the flash.
That’s because most phones, especially older models, lack color-balanced flashes. Therefore, the image may appear like a whitewashed version of the real object. It’s usually worse if the object sports many color shades. The general practice is to turn the flash off and only turn it on when you really need to use it.
Don’t Always Rely on a Selfie
Just like the name suggests, selfies were made for situations where there’s no one else around to take a photo of you. And while most modern-day travelers have joined in on the craze for selfies, experts still recommend asking someone else to take your portrait instead.
However careful you try to be with the camera, a selfie will always have a way of looking unnatural. Selfies are mostly limited in terms of the size of your body the photos can capture. Plus, the sight of your upper arm sticking out across the picture is never a pleasant one. Therefore, always ask for assistance from your travel mates or other tourists around whenever you need to take your portrait.
Set the Camera’s Focus Accurately
Most modern phone cameras are designed to focus on the foreground of their frames automatically. However, while vacationing, not all the pictures you’ll capture will have an obvious subject. And that’s especially true for subjects that are in motion.
Therefore, always set the camera lens to focus on your desired objects. You’ll need to open the camera app and then tap on the screen where you’d wish to sharpen the view. When correctly set, the phone’s screen should have a circular or square icon that tracks the selected object and shifts all focus to it.
Focus on One Object
In a few instances, such as when photographing a flock of birds, it may be difficult to focus your phone camera only on a single object. But as far as possible, always try to photograph one subject at a time. And no matter how close the object is to you, never allow its image to fill the whole frame of your phone.
Experts recommend that two-thirds of the picture should be negative space, as that enables the image to stand sharply against the background. Besides, this will give you an easier time when cropping and filtering the image.
Bring The Image into Focus Using Your Camera’s Gridlines
At times, it may be difficult to determine how much of the image should fill your phone camera’s screen. It gets a lot harder if you’re photographing a moving subject. In that case, you might consider turning on your camera’s gridlines. These gridlines are designed based on the rule of thirds.
According to this rule, the vertical and horizontal aspects of an image should be split into thirds, such that there are nine equal parts. The concept behind the theory is that a photo is generally more balanced and interactive if areas of interest fall within the intersections created by the nine square parts.
Avoid Digital Zoom
Zooming a picture is usually our first instinct when we try to photograph a subject that’s a little far. While it works some of the time, it isn’t a recommended practice for holiday photography.
You’ll realize that after you zoom beyond the 2X, your smartphone’s “digital zoom” technology will cease to work efficiently. And as you get closer to the object, the image quality becomes even poorer. Instead of relying on digital zoom, physically move closer to the object if you can. Better yet, buy a smartphone with higher focus and greater megapixels.
Play with Reflections
Reflections can make all the difference in an otherwise dull background. And the good news is, there are numerous reflections that you can experiment with. For instance, you might consider a reflection of the clear azure sky or the setting sun on a body of water.
Other sources of incredible reflections include drinking glasses, metallic surfaces, mirrors, puddles, blooming flower fields, icy landscapes, etc. Just ensure the reflective surface doesn’t draw attention from the main highlight.
Play with Third-party Camera Apps
Most phones nowadays come with built-in third-party camera apps, and those apps are not just for show. They are designed to make your outdoor photography experience truly remarkable.
The apps complement your standard built-in camera apps to ensure the image captured is exquisite in various aspects.
Some apps come with the provision for adjusting the shutter speed, focus, exposure, etc. This way if you are in a basketball arena watching a game of the NBA expert picks, you can adjust the quality of the picture immediately.
Just remember to restore your phone camera to default settings after using these third-party camera apps.
The tips we’ve discussed above will come in handy for most phone models. But to capture breathtaking photographs during your vacation, insist on buying a smartphone if you don’t already have one. Most importantly, remember that many photos that you’ll take during your holiday will be sudden and on the spur of the moment. Therefore, always have your camera set and ready to use when required.