Here’s how to take the very best photos on your travels, so they stand out on Instagram.
If you’re anything like us, when it’s time to plan a holiday, you spend hours cruising Instagram, drooling over other people’s travel photos. From sunsets with perfect silhouettes, to panoramic mountain views and epic shots of landmarks, some Insta-photos look like they were taken by professional travel photographers. But, a lot of them weren’t. Even the best photos on Instagram were taken by ordinary folk like us.
So, what’s the trick to taking the perfect travel shot on Instagram that will earn you thousands of likes and leave you with something great to print? Read on for our top tips:
Clean the Lens!
It seems obvious, but have you cleaned your phone’s lens? Many people forget to – and the images end up blurry and out of focus. Use a dust cloth (or the cleaning cloth you get with sunglasses) and wipe your lens before every shot.
Turn your Phone to the Side
We’re used to using our phones upright, taking vertical photos. But try turning it to the side for horizontal shots. It will let you get more scenery in, and give off that great sense of a panoramic shot. Hint: When you upload to Instagram, just click the button that looks like two arrows in the bottom, left-hand corner, to ensure the full image shows.
Understand your Tools
These days, phone cameras can be just as good as digital cameras. You just need to make sure you know how yours works – and how to use its special tricks.
- On an iPhone, use Burst Mode to capture action and movement, by holding down the shutter button a little before the action takes place. Keep holding until the action is over. When you check out your photo later, click ‘select’ to choose the best shot.
- When in camera mode on an iPhone, tap the screen and hold your finger down, to lock Focus and Exposure (AE/AF LOCK). Then, let go and slide your finger up and down the screen to adjust the brightness yourself.
- On Samsung phones, you can choose ‘Effect’ to add a filter to pics.
- Use HDR settings (on most phones) when the scene has both bright and dark areas.
- For a creative shot, touch the screen to focus on one thing. The closest you are to the subject when you focus, the more depth of field you’ll get, where everything else will appear blurry.
Read up on all the photo tricks your phone can do before you leave.
Master the Art of the Flash
The flash is a tricky thing to get right. When it’s dark, it can make faces or places seem blown out. Our suggestion? Don’t use a flash when it’s dark. Instead, use a different phone’s torch to shine light onto the subject you want to photograph. Interestingly, using flash in the daylight can actually ensure that people’s faces aren’t too dark, without blowing them out.
Look out for symmetry in your surroundings, which is always pleasing to the eye. Nature, buildings, and the beach are always packed with symmetric shapes to shoot.
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Edit Edit Edit
The truth is that not many of the best pics you see on Instagram are in their original form. Great pictures are made through great editing. Amateurs use the free filters on Instagram. But if you want to really stand out, use third-party editing apps to edit your photos first, and play with exposure, light and contrast. We like VSCO and Snapseed.
Shoot in the Morning or Early Evening
The best outdoor light is very early in the morning, or at dusk. Schedule your visits to landmarks at that time, and you’ll get moody, beautiful shots! At midday, the light is at its worst, and creates long shadows outdoors, so keep your inside photos (museums, galleries) for between 12pm and 2pm.
Lightning storms, clouds, trees and birds can make for great photos. Don’t be afraid to make nature your subject. Also, shoot in the rain! Puddles make for artistic reflection shots.
Pay Attention to your Frame
When you take a photo of a landscape, consider your whole frame. Use diagonal lines to guide the eye. Or use another object to show scale and add creativity, like using your hand in the foreground to make it look like you’re holding a building. Make the use of the grid on your phone, to adhere to the Rule of Thirds; split the screen into nine blocks and compose your image inside it. The four points where the lines intersect are the strongest focal points. If a subject is alone in a shot, the best place for it is the left-hand side.
Take them Offline
Remember – photos aren’t just for Instagram. When you’ve taken amazing photos from your trip, print them out on Instablocks or Shutterblocks, to display in your home forever.