Using a phone for epic travel photographs

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There are just 2 things to remember if you want to take epic travel shots: get close, and get editing. The shot above was taken by me on an iPhone 5S, and I was virtually standing in the water. It was edited for contrast and vibrance after I took it.

Get close

Phones have a very wide angle lens, and you can end up with waaaay to much foreground in your shot. You need to zoom with your feet

 That concrete wall and the fountain aren't really adding anything to the shot. Walk up behind some people and try a shot like this instead:

That concrete wall and the fountain aren't really adding anything to the shot. Walk up behind some people and try a shot like this instead:

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Here are a couple more examples. Compare the dull foreground on the left, with the closer framing on the right. All you need to do is move closer, or and/or tilt the camera slightly upwards:

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While you are getting close, try getting really close. Like, 10cm away from your subject close:

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You might find that in a shot like the one above, your phone tries to focus on the house not the roses, and the roses end up blurred. If you tap the screen of your phone where you want it to focus, you can force it to pick that spot over whatever is in the middle of the frame. 

On an iPhone, if you look closely to the side of the yellow box that appears when you tap, you will also see a yellow line with a sun in the middle of it. If you tap and drag upwards (anywhere in the screen), the sun will go up the line, and your image will brighten. Same for downwards - your image will darken. This is very useful if your phone is getting the exposure wrong.

Editing

Download an app and have some fun. You can add a bit of pop, a vintage feel, or convert to black and white. If you're travelling you are probably on holiday, so don't make it feel like hard work.

My favourites:

Enlight Photofox - for exposure, and fine control like Lightroom (it has Curves if that's your thing)

VSCO - for click-and-done filters (these are the one the travel Instagrammers use)

Snapseed - if you are Android

Provoke - for black and white

Mextures - for texture overlays

Waterlogue - to turn your shots into paintings

Prisma - the most fun you can have with a phone

Sharing

Don't leave your photos on your phone. Back them up and then get them out in the world. 


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A Year With My Camera

Strong composition is the backbone of any phone photo. My beginner's course, A Year With My Camera, covers composition early on. You can buy the book on Amazon, or sign up for the free email version here:

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Emma Davies