While I suspect that if you’re anything like me, you’ve salivated over the idea of a high powered, hot shot, massive DLSR camera.  I do see the photos of some of the pro’s and I admit – I’m slightly jealous.

But, having travelled with a larger camera (before it broke, and then I downgraded, and there I remain… downgraded), I didn’t really like it that much. I was constantly worried about it getting stolen, it attracted tons of attention, and frankly, my phone took many of the best, on-the-fly shots.

Now, those postcard-sized pocket cameras do a killer job, and with a few recent tweaks to my phone, it now takes stupendous shots. (When I upgrade my phone to the next edition, it’s going to be even better.)

If you are going on a quick weekend getaway and just want to take a few great snaps with your smartphone, I’ve got a few quick tips.

Yup – that cool luminous haze is from my HDR app.  The non-HDR version looked awful.

1.  Get an HDR App

Both the iPhone and Andriod have HDR apps – HDR standing for “high dynamic range.”   The translation there is that the app takes two photos, one with the exposure turned way up, and then one turned way down. So, for example, when the skies are grey, you know how it’s hard to get a photo of the scenery because the sky is so bright?  These kind of apps fix that because you get one photo with the right colour of sky merged with one photo of the landscape in its correct shading.

HDR can be used to create quite abnormal photos, but I find just a simple tweak here and there makes your smartphone photos pop.

2. Get an Online Backup

Photos on a phone can be a bad idea if your phone gets lost, stolen, or needs a reset.  Save yourself the anguish and set your phone up to upload to some sort of online backup.  Flickr and Facebook are both free and easy to upload photos from your phone.  Don’t wait until you lose photos to do this!

3. Use the Opportunity Experiment

You can also do some interesting experiments with your phone.  Free apps like Photosynth from Microsoft allow you to create amazing panoramic photos.  Instragram is a hugely popular photography social app, but you can simply just use it to create images with their fun-and-funky, often retro looking filters.  The number of apps for photography are numerous, and most are free or less than a couple of pounds.

4.  Try, Try, Try Again

In my experience, my smartphone has a lot less room for error than my regular camera.  So, I always try a couple of different shots to make sure I get a good one.  Sometimes camera shake makes for a blurry snap, and other times it’s hard to tell on the phone screen whether landscape or portrait is a better angle.  If I’m going to be somewhere for a day or more, I try to get some photographs at different times – just like a regular camera, harsh light (or just as bad – not enough of it) can hamper your images.  And as always, sunrise and sunset are great times to take photos.

Do you use your smartphone as your camera on holidays? Share your tips below!

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, January 12th, 2012 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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One Response to “The Cheap Photographer: 4 Tips for Using Your Smartphone”

  1. I make my living as a pro photographer, carrying around a heavy D3 and lenses. Seem to spend most of my time taking shots with my iPhone now!

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