This How To specifically applies to taking photos on an iPhone, as this is the one thing I ALWAYS have on me. Let’s get started on how to take better travel photos on an iPhone.
I am not going to go into detail about the Rule of Thirds, but basically the idea is that if you line up the horizon with the top or bottom horizontal line of the grid, and line up the subject “the thing you are taking a picture of” with one of the vertical lines of the grid, your picture will look better. This is one of those things that is best described using a picture:
As you can see from the picture the photo doesn’t need to line up exactly onto the grid lines, its just a guide, I think the main theory behind it is that the focus fn the shot isn’t in the middle of the photo…. To turn on the grid lines on, you need to go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid
HDR stand for High Dynamic Range, the simple explanation is the phone takes 3 photos at different exposures then glues them all back together to make one better photo. My experience of this is 90% of the time it produces a much better photo, it tends to have better light balance and seems more crisp. One thing I would recommend is turning off Keep Normal Photo in the Photos & Camera settings, or you will end up with a tonne of photos – more on photo storage later!
Now that you have lined up that photo with the grid and taken it with HDR on, its time to edit that bad boy. At this stage it is really easy to mess up that perfect shot, I have definitely been guilty of over enhancing before, resulting in my photos looking like screenshots from a computer game!
My editing routine usually involves first cropping and rotating if it needs it, then using the Auto Enhance Wand in the top right hand corner of the Photos App, this little tool is great, its a very quick way of touching up photos without any work, its particularly good at enhancing photos of people and low light shots, but be careful of the red eye detector, it has a tendency of replacing someones eyeballs with black holes, very demonic!!
Then I’ll start fiddling around with the light and colour options – remember less is more, especially if you plan to Instagram it later. I also do like the filters that Apple supplies, I find these to be more subtle than Instagram ones, Chrome and Transfer are my go to filters if I can’t be bothered with a lot of editing, one drawback is that you cannot scale the filters, such as in Instagram.
As good as the Photo app has become at enhancing your photos, there are some features that are only present in Instagram, I will usually up the LUX, Sharpness and Structure of all my photos as it makes them look like they were taken on a better camera. Warmth is also a setting I play around a lot with.
The key thing is to remember when editing photos is less is more. We all know that one guy that whacks all the filters and sliders up to 100, then #HashTags it to high heaven, that used to be me! Its all about finding your own style.
This is the iPhone’s biggest shortcoming, the zoom functionality is only digital zoom, this means it basically just crops the photo, stretching it across the screen, vastly reducing the resolution and quality. There is no way of getting around this, apart from just getting closer to your subject… Luckily for us, we have possibly the best zooming camera on the market, its very bloody impressive, go check out Kyle’s review of the Nikon Coolpix P900
The iPhone usually sets the focus to whatever is in the middle of the shot, if you are using the rule of thirds, or want to focus on something specifically, just tap on what you want to focus on, you might have to wait a few seconds for the camera to adjust but it works very easily.
Exposure slider – this is one feature I have only discovered recently and often do forget to use, but its so useful when taking those low light twilight shots. When you go to take your snap, tap on the screen to focus, a little sun icon will appear, you can then drag this up and down to adjust the exposure, especially useful for photography in low light, such as those late evening beer sessions!
For me this is a very very important point, as my friends will be quick to point out, I don’t have much accuracy or finesse at the best of times, a trait that doesn’t lend itself to photography very well. Fortunately you can take a shot using the volume buttons, which may reduce camera shake from slapping the screen. I also find it useful leaning the phone or myself up against a wall or something, just to keep it extra still.
Now that you are an expert photographer you will want to save those sick shots somewhere, if you are travelling for any period of time then you are likely to run out of memory on whatever device you are using, especially if you have a 16bg iPhone… Luckily there is a very good and free solution, Google Drive offers 15gb free storage and also free unlimited compressed photo storage, and an auto upload option in the IOS App.
The reason I recommend Google Drive is that it is by far my favorite cloud storage solution, not to mention we get free unlimited google drive with our old uni email accounts. But seriously, I have been using Microsoft’s One Drive for a few years, and compared to Google Drive its not that great, especially when you factor in Google Documents too.
All of the above is just advice, I am far from an expert, I just wanted to share what I have found useful and I still have a lot to learn, I’d be interested hear your tips and tricks too!! Please comment below! – Happy Snapping!