Travel Tips

Getting the Most from Your Iphone

I am an avid photographer and love to travel, so naturally I have a problem: how do I take high quality photos without lugging my bulky and expensive DSLR around? The answer is simple: the iPhone. Thanks to solid optics, a powerful processor and a suite of killer photo apps, I take just as many gorgeous photos with my iPhone as I do with my professional camera. To get the most out of your iPhone camera, keep these five easy tips in mind:

1. Don’t rely on Instagram

The picture below never would have been possible if I used Instagram, because it forces you to take pictures using its default crop ratio. Therefore, wide panoramic shots like this stunning capture of Fitz Roy are impossible. Besides the crop issue, Instagram filters – while good – are stale. If you want your pictures to look just like everyone else’s, then by all means, carry on. But, if you want your photos to stand out and elicit that incredulous “you didn’t take that with your iPhone!” response, then you have to diversify your photo editing apps.

2. Use multiple photo editing apps to get the most out of your picture

My personal favorites are Camera + and Photoshop Express. Unlike Instagram, both of these apps cost money, but its not much. If you unlock all the filters on Camera + and all of the editing features like noise reduction on Photoshop Express, you might spend $15, which is nothing compared to the $700 your iPhone costs. I like to use Camera + to take my photos, because you can precisely set the focus and exposure point using two fingers to simultaneously tap the screen. This leads to better exposed and focused photos from the get go. Once I’ve taken the pic, I briefly edit it in Camera + by adjusting the “scene” (clarity being a particularly useful auto-toning preset). Then I save the image to my camera roll and open it up in Photoshop Express to tweak the exposure, contrast and saturation, and to reduce noise or sharpen the image as needed. I save the photo to the camera roll and open it once again in Camera + and apply a filter (called FX Effects) if I’m in the mood. For an example of what’s possible, see the three images below. The first is the raw image (very blase), the second after one round of editing in Camera +, and the third after tweaking in Photoshop Express.

3. Use HDR

HDR mode is built into your iPhone camera; you can enable it by tapping options and selecting HDR. Its especially useful in dynamic lighting conditions where you have many highlights and shadows. I took the following photo in Ecuador using HRD mode and then edited it using Camera + and Photoshop Express.

4. Shoot during sunrise and sunset

Lighting is everything. True, advanced photo editing apps can take a dull photo and make it pop, but it wont look natural. If you want a vibrant, saturated and dynmaic picture that looks natural and takes minimal editing, then the lighting has to be right. This is why professional photorgapheres will spend thousands of dollars on studio lighting rigs. Fortunately, there is a better free option. The sun. Its the best source of light out there. If you want to make the most out of it, shoot at sunrise and sunset – the magic hour.

5. Get closer to your subject

This advice holds true regardless of the camera. Proximity = intimacy = compelling images. Get in close to your subject, then take a few more steps to get even closer. If its a person your photographing, ask permission first