Often, I’ve perused DSLR cameras and even come close to buying one a few times, but haven’t yet. One of the reasons I haven’t is because I’ve become accustomed to traveling light. Sometimes, that means my purse for a day of city wandering is only slightly bigger than a palm. Adding an expensive camera and lenses to my wandering ensemble is less than appealing.
Another reason I haven’t invested in a DSLR yet is the sheer cost- beyond the camera itself, I recognise I’d need lenses, editing tools and equipment to keep the camera safe. Every time I come close to purchasing, I equate the cost to several weekend trips to new countries and cities.
One of these days, sometime soon, I likely will finally make the investment. I’ve got a safari and more travel through southeast Asia on my ‘to-travel’ list for the next year, and I want to be able to capture photos in all types of situations- low light, rapid movement, far zoom. There are also some places, like Antelope Canyon in Arizona, which only offer tours to photographers who own professional equipment.
In actuality, even once I own a DSLR, I’ll likely continue to use my iPhone for the majority of my travel pictures.
I’m by no means a photography expert, but there are a few tricks I’ve picked up to help make the most of my #iPhoneOnly travel photography.
5 Easy Tips to Taking Better iPhone Photos
Clean Your Lens
An obvious one, but something a lot of people don’t do. Photos showing up blurry or look low quality? Could be as simple as wiping off your lens. Trust me, this makes a huge difference in how details show up.
Tap to Focus
This is one of my favorite ‘tricks’ to teach people- instead of rushing to take a photo, tap to focus your shot either on the main object or faces of people you’re photographing. Yes, it takes a minute or two longer but your photos will be significantly better. I usually tap to focus every few shots if I’m taking a few in succession to ensure stillness in the shot and that the details I want to see are crisp.
If you don’t have the latest iPhone, you can also create a bit of depth through tapping to focus. I’m currently shooting with a 6s, and am usually able to create depth around an object I’m interested in if I’m patient and try a few different angles/positions (shooting in natural light helps too).
Catch Movement Through Burst Mode or Recording
If you’re trying to capture an action shot or specific movement, try using the burst mode by holding down the shutter button to take a burst of photos, which will give you a few different action shots to choose from. Or try taking a video and then pausing on the moment you want. Once you’re paused, take a screenshot and viola, action shot.
Line Your Shots Up With The Grid & Never Zoom
Turning on the grid function (through photo settings) has changed the way I take photos entirely. Now, I’m able to easily line up my shots to ensure they’re symmetrical or check my edges. Struggling to line things up? Try going low to create straighter lines.
Before I snap a picture, I always do a final scan of the frame to ensure there’s nothing unwanted in the shot.
And, don’t zoom when you take a picture- crop it afterwards instead. Zooming in slows down camera speed, plus cropping afterwards gives you more options when you edit.
Shoot in Natural Light When Possible, and Use Exposure
Shooting in natural light is always preferential, but not a reality. In situations when it’s not ideal, tap the subject of your photo for the sun icon to appear. Once you see it, test moving the notches up and down (lighter and darker) to control the amount of light in your shot.
Never, ever use the flash. In addition to losing detail, and washing out your subjects, chances are you’ll annoy those around you if you’re shooting in low light. Instead, ask a friend with a smartphone to turn their flashlight on and hold it directly above the subject you’re trying to shoot. This is a pro-food photography trick I picked up on a set years ago. Shooting solo? Amazon sells inexpensive pocket flashlights.
A Few Other Things
9 times out of 10, I shoot with the default iPhone lens. Every now and then, I’ll use the lens effects in VSCO if I need to capture something extremely detailed. And, in some situations, I’ll pull out my clip-on wide-angle, fish-eye or macro lenses (such a steal for £12 on Amazon).
I don’t do much editing to my photos, and never use filters as they come, but my favorite apps for minor adjustments, like brightening or adjusting contrast are ColorStory and SnapSeed.
Other helpful apps: QuickFlip for photo rotation, Layout to combine photos together and Pixelgarde to remove date/time stamps (hello, posting a photo to IG stories after the 24 hour mark, especially helpful when traveling in a destination with limited wifi connectivity).
A Few of My Favorite Recent iPhone Shots
If you shoot travel photography via iPhone, what tips help you take a better photo?