7 Tips for Taking Great Outdoor Photos with Your Phone

With the advancement in smartphones’ camera technology and photo editing apps, taking high-quality snapshots has never been easier. You need not look further than our previous photography guide to see how true this testament is. In that post, we mention the estimated number of photos people will take in 2020. It’s a mind-boggling figure! You can read that post here. 

But what is the secret to taking great outdoor photos with your smartphone? Today we cover 7 tips that will help you take better outdoor photos immediately.

How to take the best sunset photo with your phone camera

There are over 198 million photos posted as #sunset on Instagram. People love sunset photos! But there is more to taking wonderful sunset photos than waiting for the ball of fire to dip into the horizon and start clicking away. 

For the best sunset photos: 

  • A day with a partially cloudy sky is the best. The endless cloud formations make each sunset a once in a lifetime photo.
  •  Try to incorporate another element. Add interest to the photo by incorporating another subject in the shot. For example, include a friend or a pet. 


Make use of the HDR mode

Most outdoor landscape photos will be high contrast scenes with both dark and bright areas. Think of a bright sky and dark foreground. The problem posed by this is, either the highlights will be correctly exposed, but the shadows will appear too dark. Or the shadows will be correctly exposed, but the highlights will appear too bright. This is where the High Dynamic Range (HDR) setting found on most smartphone camera apps comes into play. It works to create well-lit photos with more color and detail in both the bright and dark areas.

If you have an iPhone and you want your camera to automatically take HDR photos whenever it needs to, ensure Smart HDR (Auto HDR on older iPhones) is switched on. But, avoid using HDR mode on fast-moving subjects or when you can’t keep your phone steady. This is because in HDR mode, photos take a little longer to process and you will probably end up with shots that are out of focus.


Adjust your camera focus 

Most smartphones today use a method of auto-focus known as contrast detection. The lens on your camera phone moves back and forth until the position with the greatest focus is found for the subject. But not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. For example, if you’re taking a photo of something in motion.

Here is where the manual focus setting comes into play. In the built-in Camera app, tap the screen where you want to set focus, and a square icon will appear showing your focus point. This allows you to choose which element you want to be sharpest.

Get closer and simplify the shot

If the photo isn’t interesting enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa (famous war photojournalist).

When taking outdoor photos there can be a lot going on in the background. This will often result in photos feeling crowded and unappealing. A great way to take better photos is to simplify your shot.

Is there something in the shot that’s not needed? Get closer and crop it out. Make a point of slowing down and examining the entire image, looking for things that don’t belong there.


Scout your ideal location

Visiting a location beforehand is key to taking great outdoor photos. Because of the ease with which we take photos with our phones, we sometimes forget a little preparation still goes a long way. So take some time to check out the location, either in person or online. By checking out shots taken by other people, you can pick your favorite spot or angle or decide to find a unique perspective. 

Look for symmetry and patterns

In photography, symmetry means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other. Patterns are repeated shapes, colors or objects, ordered in either regular or irregular formations. Patterns, both natural and man-made, can be found all around us. Be attentive and look around you, and you’re bound to come across patterns and symmetry. It’s worth the effort since pictures that contain symmetry and patterns are incredibly pleasing to the eye.


Avoid these two common mobile photography mistakes

  • The digital zoom feature on most smartphone cameras is terrible. Digital zoom crops into the scene, then it attempts to fill the image by spacing out pixels. The resulting images lack sharpness and are usually grainy. Instead, move your feet closer for a better shot.
  • Photos with no clear subject can be dull and uninteresting. Without a focal point, people won’t be able to lock their eyes into your image. They’ll be left wondering what your photo is all about.

Final thoughts

I bet with these 7 tips you are ready to go out and take amazing pictures. Yet, as we take more and more photos every day, it’s so easy for these amazing pictures to get lost and forgotten among the many other photos on our phones and computers. Don’t let this happen to you. With our family yearbook membership, you can preserve those special moments easily. Interested? Click here

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