How to fully utilize your smartphone for landscape/ Hiking photography.
Sh#t I forgot my camera! Guess I will rely on M
Said no one ever. If you hike you will go prepared. However, if for some reason you are not bringing your photography equipment on your hike, you probably still want to capture the highs of your trail. Using your phone is not a bad option if you have no other resorts. We will help you to up your phone photography game.
Know your (Phone) camera
Just like your regular photography equipment, you should know the possibilities of the camera on your mobile. Smartphones have come a long way and are developing rapidly, especially when it comes to mobile photography. Both IoS and Android systems are doing a great job providing the user with creative freedom when it comes to photography. The auto mode on the latest smartphones do a good job in capturing your photos, with functions like HDR and heavy processors working on helping you improve your photo. However, most of these devices also carry the option to take control yourself, just like you would on your DSLR. Before hiking, it is smart to experiment with all the (hidden) features. Don’t wait for your next hike to fully understand the possibilities of your phone.
Download and try third-party apps
As much as smartphone manufacturers have optimized the software behind the lens, there are functions better accomplished by third-party apps. Most of the apps are focused on editing, but there are also plenty of applications to give you the freedom of manual controls. There are many apps available in both the App Store and Google Play, some charge a few bucks, others are free. Experiment with different apps, see what works for you and what doesn’t, and create your own workflow.
Handy tip 1.
Experiment with different apps, only then you know what works for you and what doesn’t.
A more in-depth article about applications for mobile photography will follow in the near future.
Just because you are leaving your photography equipment at home to save weight, you should not leave your phone accessories at home. Some situations just demand accessories, like a tripod. To make the best use of low-light situations, put a timer on to prevent motion blur, even if your smartphone is mounted. Another option is to use your headset to take the picture without touching your phone.
Besides the tripod think about lenses and phone cases that give you more grip. Many photography brands acknowledge the phone as a good tool for taking photos and have designed accessories for the phone. E.g. Peak Design straps and Manfrotto grips. The main advantage of accessories for your phone over regular photography equipment is the weight. Just like the phone itself, it weighs a few grams and doesn’t take up too much space. So there is no valid reason to not bring these simple accessories with you.
Handy tip 2.
Invest in a phone case designed for photography; it will protect your phone and provide extra grip to prevent motion blur.
Taking the Perfect shot
Depending on your experience with photography, you should keep in mind that the basic rules of photography apply to any device, including your smartphone. Think of light, exposure, composition, angles, perspective, framing, rule-of-third etc.
More specifically for phones, clean the lens everytime you want to take a photo with a soft cloth. Your smartphone spends most of the time in your pocket or in your hand, the glass of your lens will get dirty. Dirt, dust and greasy fingerprints will negatively influence the quality of your photos, so try to prevent that by cleaning your lens. Newer phones will even warn you for dirty lenses.
Handy tip 3.
Make sure your soft cloth is easily accessible, so you can quickly clean your lens and capture the moment.
Try panorama shots
As most phones have a multipurpose lens, which is the equivalent of roughly a 30mm lens on a DSLR, your phone is doing a decent job in landscape photography. However, when you find yourself of a breathtaking panorama view, your phone might not fully capture it. In these cases use the panorama option on your smartphone. It might take a few tries, but the result can be breathtaking.
As much as I think you should not leave your photography equipment at home, I also understand some might think differently. Nowadays the smartphone industry provides us with easy accessibility to making beautiful photos, on the level I would argue they outperform most point-and-shoot cameras.
Approach your phone as your DSLR, download apps if necessary, carry accessories, and you will be able to take beautiful pictures of any landscape. Once you have used your phone for photography more often, and master the possibilities, you will be able to take photos nobody will even believe were shot with a smartphone.
Whether you bring your phone or an expensive camera, the photographer’s skill is most important. Practice makes perfect, so keep wandering and keep taking pictures.
Let us know what you think about mobile photography, and share your best photos taken with a smartphone.
One More: Hiking Blogs.
Stefan is a design thinker, with a passion for photography and the outdoors. Just like most designers, he is a life-long learner, interested in everything that moves the world. He’s driven when it comes to research, branding, writing, travel, strategy, psychology, and entrepreneurship.