If you plan to go camping, hiking, or backpacking some time soon, then you will be sure to want to take excellent photos to document the journey. I for one always take photos whenever I get outdoors. I want to look back and said I enjoyed my time. It can be quite difficult to take good photos when you do not know what you are doing. If you’re the everyday Joe or like me, your phone is your only way to take photos. Fortunately for you though, I made this article for you, How to Take Good Photos on Your Phone in 10 Helpful Tips, so let’s get started.
1. Sit Back and Let the Device Do the Work
Unless you spend hours and hours as a programmer who knows their phone inside and out, leave your device alone. The developers spent good time on your phone to make it the user-friendly phone you see today. They know how to make it work well for the user. That is why you have it after all. With that in mind, you can leverage what your device already has on it.
Turn on HDR to Combine the Best of All Shots
If you go to your phone’s camera app, you can be sure to find an option for “HDR” there. It stands for High Dynamic Range. In other words, it balances the highlights and the shadows to create an excellent photo pleasing to the human eye. More often than not, HDR takes three photos, a dark image, a light image, and a neutral image before smashing them together. When it does that, you get a mix of the three photos, giving you the best of all three. Set your phone so it does this automatically. It increases details and widens the exposure range.
The photo below was taken with hdr. Just notice how the colors pop and the lighting game is on point.
Turn on Grid Lines and Follow the Rule of Thirds
Before I knew about grid lines, I would just wing it. “I have a good eye. I could do it myself” I told myself This is not the case though. You do not realize how much your eyesight is overrated until you get a camera. A nice set of grid lines allow you to divide up an image into thirds. These grid lines will give you nine boxes. When you put different parts of your photo into each of these sections, the photo transforms, becoming more balanced and even.
2. Download Some Apps to Make the Magic Happen
You probably already have a camera app that you got with your initial purchase, but let me tell you that you can have an even better experience if you download some excellent apps. They just make life a lot easier.
Get the Camera+ App and Use its Clarity Feature
With this app in tow, you go beyond your regular camera app. It takes what you already have and makes it even better. You get more advanced editing tools, integrated social media sharing, and an image stabilizer. If you want professional photos with an amateur’s hands from here on out, then I definitely recommend this camera app.
Use the SKRWT Photo Editing App
This app helps the lines on your photo look more clean and crisp. It is much like the Camera+ app, but specifically for editing. It is another option available to you.
3. Take Lots of Photos from Lots of Different Angles
You probably won’t get the photo right on the first shot. It takes a bit of luck and self reflection. You take one shot and critique it, noticing the flaws. And then you take another, it’s a little better than the previous one. You take a third. Now you are getting somewhere. If you take lots of photos, you increase your chances of getting a good shot. If you take 100 photos as opposed to just one, you can always delete the ones you do not like and keep the ones you enjoy. No one will get mad at you if you delete a photo. It is the work of an artist.
4. Avoid the Urge to Zoom In
Unless you are taking photos of wildlife where you should not be close at all anyway, do not zoom in. You can cut and crop later. Unfortunately, most zoom ins are blurry. They take the contrast out of the photo and mix everything together. If you see a great shot subject far away, just walk closer for the photo. You lose quality when you zoom in on them. By keeping the default distance, you maintain the quality.
5. Make Sure the Lens is Clean
When I camp and hike, dirt just creeps right on into my clothes and backpack. It gets everywhere. Sometimes even to my camera phone. With my last iPhone, I took a lot of bad photos. In fact, it was right after a splendid hiking adventure. Oops! I bet you can guess what the source was. Dirt from the trail got right onto the lens.
Do not worry though. It happens. You just have to clean it off. When you clean it though, make sure you use the right camera lens cleaning material. You do not want to scratch it or mess it up even more too.
6. Embrace Negative Space
Negative space is the area around a subject. It is not the main part of the photograph. When you choose to add negative space to your photograph, it simplifies the photo, pleasing the human eye in the process. When in nature, simplicity captivates the mind. Negative space forces the viewer of the photo to look at the subject and try to understand them. It can be an open sky, blank chalk board, empty field, or anything else of the sort.
7. Look for Symmetry, Leading Lines, and Repetitive Patterns
Symmetry is about balance. Think of the Yin and Yang from Chinese culture or Thanos from Avengers 4. As the great villain of the Marvel series would say about a good photo, it should be, “perfectly balanced, as all things should be.” The proportions weigh evenly against each other. On the human body, this means two equal parts down the middle. For a photo, this means three separate sections with those grid lines you turned on.
Imagine you are standing on some train tracks on a flat plain. As you look into the distance, the train tracks fade and the rails lean in towards each other. They funnel your eyes towards the horizon. Train tracks create a sense of depth to an image. It does not have to be train tracks. It could be a good trail, stairs, a road, or a stream. They draw your eye to a particular direction.
People like patterns. You see them in songs. A hymn repeats over and over again to drive in a particular message to the listener. It is the same way with photos. They make a strong visual impact. This can be a bowl of ice cream over and over again or a repeating garden of flowers.
8. Leverage Lighting to Your Advantage
People like photos where they can see the subject. This can be a silhouette or a portrait shot. Often times, flash is overused. It should be used only in particular cases. Instead, use natural light. It makes the photo more organic. This can be a sunset or car lighting. Even if it is nighttime, you can still take a good photo. The moonlight provides an excellent, all natural flash. Be on the lookout for places where you can get your lighting. In short, proper lighting should draw attention to your subject.
9. Zero in on One Subject
The pros say two-thirds of your photo should just be negative space. The best photos are often done this way. It keeps things simple. The rest should go towards your subject. It zeroes the viewer’s attention in on the subject. When you use only one subject, it makes life a lot easier for you. You do not have to think about balancing twenty different things into one image. You can breathe a sigh of relief.
Also, be aware that you can use tools on your photo to increase the detail of your subject, drawing more attention to them.
10. Be Patient to Get the Shot of the Cheetah
Before I start talking about patience, you might need some motivation to hunker down for the long haul to take that perfect photo. I recommend that you check out one of my previous articles, 10 Inspirational Camping and Hiking Quotes and Photos. It will be sure to give you the kick you need to get outside and enjoy life. If you want to be reminded of the cool outdoor breeze and sunny days that await you outdoors, check out the article below.
When I traveled to South Africa, I went on a Safari in Kruger. We spent a long time looking for a cheetah, five days in fact. It was excruciating. I never thought I would see one in the wild. Before long though, our driver spotted him, a small blip on the radar. If it were not for the driver and our patience, we would not have found it. I would have gone home without seeing one. The same goes for you. You probably will not get it right on the first photo. I guarantee it. If you stay outside long enough and take enough photos following this advice, you can be sure to get that Instagram worthy photo.
Are You Going to Get Outside this Week?
Well, your photography game should be a lot better now. You can take excellent photos that are not too shabby. It is time to get outside for that perfect nature shot, but you can only do so if you find a trail near you. You can find a link to AllTrails.com below. By a wide margin, it is my favorite app for finding trails near me to hike. If there is a trail near you, it is bound to have it. So what do you say? Are you going to get outside this week? The road less traveled awaits.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!