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12 Tips For Taking Adventure Photos On Your Phone

Use your phone to take photos like a pro.

By: Talia Touboul + Save to a List

As amateur photographers or even professionals, we are sometimes faced with the dilemma of not having high-end cameras at our disposal. Yet most of us today carry a smartphone in our pockets. No matter how experienced you are with photography, using your phone rather than purchasing a camera can save you a lot of money, a lot of time, and are easy enough for a two year old of this generation to use. Here are twelve tips to taking amazing photos on your phone:

Photo: Talia Touboul

1. Use the grid

In photography 101 you learn the basic principle of The Rule of Thirds. Summed up, the principle states that photographs are visually more appealing if you place your subjects or points of interest along the lines or points of intersect. What are the points of intersect? If you enable the grid option on your iPhone under Settings>Photos>Camera and enable Grid, your camera will dissect your view into 9 equal squares. The lines or points of interest are the horizontal and vertical lines that appear. There are four important points (the four middle intersection) that you should place subject matter into. You do not need to fill all of these, on the contrary. Some photos are more appealing if they are offset to the right or left. They create their own points of interest. But the theory is that people’s eyes tend to go straight to these points/lines without even knowing it, and helps create a visually aesthetic frame.

2. Easy access to external apps

The fantastic part about iPhones is its easy access to the Apps Store. You don’t even need to upload your pictures to your computer or spend excessive amounts of money on programs such as Photoshop. Third party apps can enable you to take manual shots using ISO settings, or even help you edit a picture just right. Browse your options and don’t be afraid to try new things.

3. Don’t shy away from panoramic mode

With Instagram and other social media apps as our platforms for posting pictures, panoramic view can have a failing tendency to fit into a square. Yet the picture looks so good. Well, if you utilize point #2, you don’t have to lose the best part of your picture. There are tons of free apps that enable you to crop your entire picture into a square. You will have to choose a frame to set it in, but who cares? You got that entire beach sunset into one single shot, and you can share it now. Check out apps such as SquareReady to help you fit your panoramic view into a compatible Instagram photo.

Photo: Dillon Senn

4. Utilize HDR

Ever wondered what the HDR that pops up even mean? High Density Range is software available with iPhones that lets you take pictures with high contrast lighting. Say you want to take a picture at a night concerts and the lights from the stage interfere with the darkness of the crowd. With HDR enabled, your iPhone will take multiple pictures in quick succession and will help your picture not be distorted. It automatically compiles them into a single shot. Most time you will be shooting in automatic and not even notice the difference, however, next time you are taking a picture of a sunset going down on a dark mountain, or a picture with a bright light, play with your HDR and check out the difference.

5. Play with the brightness features

Who needs editing aps when you can manual change the lighting of your picture as you take it? If you press down on your screen long enough, your focus square will lock into place. A little sun with appear next to it, and you can actually scroll it up and down, making the image lighter or darker, playing with the exposure. If you are in a shaded area and are snapping pictures of a sunny place, try reducing the light and see what happens.

6. Shortcuts

One of the absolute best parts about shooting with your iPhone is its rapid availability in your pocket. You can be the most famous photographer in the world, but if you aren’t quick enough to get your camera out, your shot is lost. It takes literally seconds to pull out your phone, and with its shortcuts, you can be snapping pictures in no time. No need to input your passwords, just swipe up on the right hand side of your locked phone and up pops your camera. You can also use the volume buttons to take pictures if your hands are wet or you’re taking landscape pictures.

Photo: Talia Touboul

7. Utilize the focus

Some of the best photos need to be taken up close, but focus is different for every camera and every lens. iPhones have an incredible range of focus, and if you utilize it properly, you can be taking pictures of ants carrying breadcrumbs. Tap your subject matter with your finger several times. Sometimes it takes a few tries for your iPhone to understand what you are aiming at. Give it a second to focus, and repeat while getting a little closer. You don’t need an expensive lens to capture detail, just pull out your iPhone.

8. Burst your action shots

Ever come across wildlife on a hike and just missed your perfect picture by a millisecond? If you press down on your shutter button and keep it down, your iPhone will take a burst of photos in succession. Yes, you might have thirty-five photos over three seconds, but you will have options to chose from. Don’t be afraid to take too many photos. No one ever regretted having options. You can always go in and delete the ones you don’t need, but you can’t ask a moose or flying eagle to strike a pose for you.

9. Invest in a tripod

Investing in a tripod will benefit you in so many ways, and might just be the next step in your hobby/carreer as a photographer. A lot of photos require you be very still taking them; even more so if you utilize manual apps that let you play with shutter speed. But more than just that, tripods can be helpful in capturing pictures of you, friends, family and scenery all together. You don’t need the most expensive one on the market. Most of them come in small portable sizes, which can even grip on to things. Check out the next two points that are beneficial with a tripod.

Photo: Juan Moreno

10. Use the timer

No one around to take a picture of you and your friend? On the top screen of your camera press the little clock and you can enable the timer of 3s or 10s. This means your photo will take with a delay of 3 seconds or 10 seconds. This is a great feature that can help you take amazing photos where there is no one around to take it of you. Just set it, press the shutter button and run into place. If you have a tripod, great, if not find a place to set your phone down and take a picture from far away of you and the view.

11. Time-Lapse it!

Have you ever seen those amazing videos of the sky changing color at sunset and what it looks like is a sped up video? Well it’s actually a succession of spread out photos over time made into a short movie. And the great part is, you don’t need high-end hardware to make your own. iPhones have a built-in Time-Lapse mode, which will automatically convert your photos into a movie. This really works fantastic if you have a tripod. Just enjoy the clouds changing colors and press start on your phone.

12. But first, let me take a selfie

Have you ever offered to take a picture of someone and his or her response was: “No, it’s a selfie”? Well it happens a lot. The fashion of the selfie is something that has come into the photography industry and has been booming ever since a song basically trademarked the word. Selfie-Sticks however, can be more than just a trend. They can give you elevation and get wider angles in your shot. So if you were considering it, it might make some of your travel photos worthwhile. Don’t worry, no one will judge you; or maybe just a little, but at least you’ll have a great photo!

Cover photo: Talia Touboul

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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