by 4 April 15, 2014We went to Spain last week. Our nice camera didn't. We got to Madrid and I asked Mat if he knew where it was. We quickly figured out that it would be ready for taking all sorts of beautiful pictures when we returned to London, as it was still hooked up to the charger in our living room. Uggh. Taking sub-par pictures of beautiful places irks me. And not having that family picture with a just-blurry-enough background feels like a stab to my memory-loving heart. There is no replacing a good quality camera. Like almond butter is just not peanut butter and soda is just not tonic. They work in place of each other, but clearly one holds the upper hand. Peanut butter and tonic, obviously. But all is not lost and when you, like me, find yourself with a camera that also lets you call your mom. Here are three things you do to make the most out of taking pictures with your phone. Get a better camera app. The standard iPhone camera is fine. Just fine. It is actually so middle of the road that I almost never use it and neither should you. You want to look for a few things in a camera app. First, find a camera app that lets you pick a point to focus on and a point to expose for. This way you can insure you have enough light, or as much light as possible, for every picture-- light is the key to good pictures, always. Second, look for a camera app that releases the shutter quickly (this will help with a tip a little further down the list). Third, find a camera with extras like a grid overlay for composing your shots or a level indicator. My go to camera apps are Camera+ and VSCOcam Take lots of shots and then take even more. Bad pictures are easy to come by. When you line everything up for the perfect selfie/groupshot/still life in front of that ridiculously great monument/seaside/restaurant meal and then only take one or two pictures, you're asking for the overweight French guy in the world's smallest speedo to accidentally photo bomb what was otherwise instagram-worthy. If he doesn't, then your bestie is going to close her eyes, you're going to be looking just over the camera lens, or the light is going to have shifted just enough to make your picture overly dark or washed out. And if you travel with people who are less than set on getting the picture in one take (read: infants, specifically one named Faye), you should just plan on taking as many as you can as quickly as possible in hopes one will work out. But don't count on it. #EditedPicture There is a reason I want to bring my nice camera when we go places. It's an obvious one: it makes my pictures look good and therefore it makes me look good. My iPhone isn't out to make me look good. At some point in time you have said, "Oh my gosh you took that with your phone!" That's because deep down you know that Apple and Nikon play on different photographic levels. So do yourself a favor and edit your images, like all of them, before you post them to Facebook, twitter or Instagram. The pre-programmed filters are nice and can be great tools, but they are also a little overwhelming. Mentally push all your creative cells to the end of your thumb and edit the image yourself instead. Primary things to look at would be exposure, brightness, sharpness, shadows, highlights, temperature, contrast, and/or rotation. Simply brightening and leveling your image could make all the difference in the world. You could add a fade or a vignette if you want to get fancy. Snapseed is excellent for editing different segments of your pictures. Lighten the foreground and darken the background - easy. Afterlight is great for those familiar with photoshop tools, and the filters aren't overly annoying. VSCOcam is my editor of choice. I use the camera and editing tools, as well as the social tools. The filters are legion and some of them are killer. The editing is easy easy and all options I am looking for are there, except for the handy tool of segmented editing from Snapseed. Sidenote: If you want to use a filter, try an app that lets you decide how intensely to use that filter, then assume that less is more. Bottom line: if you are tempted to post a picture with #nofilter in the caption, you should look back up at whatever it was that captivated you -- it was probably pretty amazing -- and then look back at your picture. Your unedited picture probably doesn't do it justice. Don't think of editing as showing people something that isn't real; instead, think of it as giving people an accurate representation of what was so awe-inspiring to you. Just say NO to #nofilter. That's what I've got for you…for now. Not revolutionary but certainly the rules to live by. Follow them then shoot me your instagram handle and I would love to see you work your "Look y'all no camera!" travel photo magic.
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