Carry you iPhone/camera on you at all times
You can’t take a great shoot if the cameras in the car, on the bus or worse still in the hotel room. That would be the most important tip I can share about taking a better iPhone travel photo.
Practice makes a perfect iPhone travel photo
If you have a camera with you use it. Shoot every chance you get. Just by shear volume alone you will get one or two great photos. But if you learn by doing, you will eventually find more than just the odd few shots are great. Practice certainly does improve your photographic skill. We are living examples. We couldn’t take a good shot to save ourselves when we first started, some may say we still have a long way to go, but our photos are getting better and more and more people are commenting on the quality not just the content.
Try not to develop bad habits
Stop reviewing every shot just after you take it. You will have plenty of time to mull over the shoots once you get back to your accommodation or finish your holiday. Shoot the action around you, trust the camera to do its stuff. Move to capture the scene, think about light and shadow and slowdown just a bit to make sure the perspective and subject matter capture the essence of the scene.
Without my reading glasses I can’t really see the digital screen of the camera so the quality of the last shot is still undefined even if I do review the photo so I tend to pull the camera out get into position, frame, focus then shoot three or four photos from slightly different angles before putting the camera down without looking at those photos. Later in a coffee shop I can put on my reading glasses and really study the photos. As a result if something amazing happens around me I’m not focused on the digital screen and can snap that next shot without delay.
Don’t shoot with the sun directly behind you. Sun behind you causes the image to look flat and of course your shadow and that of you camera gets in the way. Shoot from either side about 5 – 45 degrees so the sun is over your left or right shoulder. See the light around you and use it to your advantage. Is the light interacting with the scene highlighting an area or casting interesting shadows if so use these to create an extraordinary photo.
Use shade during the day
Sunlight during the day from 10 am to 3 pm can be very harsh and creates deep shadows especially on peoples faces. During the day there is often enough light in the shade to take a great photo with out the harsh shadows and overexposed areas caused by midday sun. Walk in the shade as you travel its better for your skin and take photos of subjects that are shaded but not in front of large expanses of sun drenched backgrounds. If you are competing with a well lit background get in closer and use the cameras flash to lighten the foreground subject.
Take photos at either end of the day
Early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low in the sky are great times to snap full sun photos. The shadows are longer but less visible to a camera held one to two meters from the ground. The light is softer and yellower and lights up a subject more evenly. However its not the prefect time of day for travellers who’s focus isn’t purely about photography. But if you want a great shot get out of bed early and visit those special places when the sun is low in the sky and most of the other visitors are still in bed or eating.
Check whats in the background
Too often we see images of people with a tree sticking out of their head, garbage bin prominent in background or some annoying tourist messing up a photo. When you visit tourist locations you will have other people milling around in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Try to get in close and obscure any foreign object you don’t want in the frame. Move left or right to place a wall, pole or tree so it obscures unwanted or unsightly objects in the frame.
An image is more engaging when you take the image from a different vantage point to the normal observer. Crouch down, lie down, or if your tall like me stand on your tippy toes and hold the camera way up high. The change in perspective will make the image different and often more pleasing. Changing your observation point in this way also enables you to remove some of those unwanted background elements.
Get down so a foreground object fills the gap between you and the background you trying to capture. The object will obscure all the unwanted cars, people and garbage you don’t in the photo.
Focus on the Subject
The subject of your photo needs to be in just the right spot to achieve an extraordinary image. So slow down and think about its placement in the field of view.
Move a few steps closer
Fill the photo with the subject you want to capture. Move in closer to the foreground subject and position it at one or two of the sweet spots within the photo. The Rule of thirds always applies but getting up close and personal with the subject and fill the frame will make the photo “POP”. See how much better your photo will look without the wasted nondescript foreground and background space.
Rule of Thirds
If your uncertain about the rule of third in photography then read this Darren Rowse blog post http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/, one of the thousand of photography post on the web that take about this rule. In essence if you divide the photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically the four intersection point form the sweet spots of the photo where the the focus points of the subject matter should be aligned. If its a portrait of a persons their eyes should align to the top two intersection or at least sit on the horizontal line marking the top third of the image. If its a subject or scene then the subject should fill two thirds of the background with its focal point falling along either the right or left vertical line.
To further draw the viewers focus towards the subject the subject can be frame by a foreground or background feature like a window, street line, door or even shadow.
Look out for the next post in the series “iPhone apps for traveling Photographers – Editing Photos” and check out this trick photography product and produce some amazing results.