Travel Photography: Smartphone Camera Settings and Photo Editing

You’d be amazed at what your smartphone camera can do. We suggest you play around with options like scene modes, panorama and HDR before you get here to learn what it is capable of and so you can take the best shots.

Phone camera 101

  • Be sure the lens is clean
  • Tap your finger on the screen where you want to focus, activating a yellow square
  • Quick lighten and darken photos by putting your finger on the phone and then drag up or down
  • Keep steady, lean against something for sharper focus [TAS tip: tuck your elbows in to stabilise your arms]
  • Keep level and watch the horizon
  • Photograph horizontal for wider views, and vertical for tall trees, giraffes and headshots
  • On many phones the volume buttons can be used to take the picture

Tips to make your battery last

  • Adjust screen brightness as needed
  • Keep your phone on flight mode (and only use one app at a time)
  • While on safari, use only as a camera and not as a means to connect
  • Get an external charger (power bank) and keep it charged

Tips to make your storage last

  • Back up images and delete old photos before your trip (videos take up the most space)
  • Go through and delete unwanted shots regularly
  • Be conscious of what you shoot and what you save

Beyond Smartphone auto mode

  • Although different phones have different settings, most should be able to let you control the focus, exposure, white balance andISO
  • The higher the resolution, the better the quality of photo

Editing images

  • Use a free app like Snapseed, VSCO Cam or Afterlight. Or purchase ProCamera or Camera+:
    • Play with shutter speed, ISO etc.
    • Adjust automatic settings in the app
    • Apply filters that suit your aesthetic

TAS tip: Subtlety is key, aim to create the impression that you haven’t adjusted anything at all