It is frequently said that the best camera is the one you already have with you. We all love our smartphones, and the integrated camera is often the only one we carry.
Amazingly, the cameras on modern phones rival many of the low-end DSLRs on the market. That means you can take killer images without a professional camera. Tap or click to turn your smartphone camera into a full-featured webcam.
Nature photography is an excellent hobby all year round. But if you’re struggling to get the quality you want, try a few of these helpful tips.
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1. Pay attention to lighting
Photography is often referred to as painting with light. When taking pictures of nature, pay attention to the available light. How can you use it to create eye-popping images?
Turn the sun peaking through the trees into a dramatic starburst by setting your f/stop to f/22 or above. Look for ways light and shadows create exciting patterns on otherwise drab backgrounds.
Capture the way sunlight sparkles over rippling water. Keep your eyes open to dramatic contrast or softer, warmer images.
2. Pick the right time of day
There are a variety of lighting options that change throughout the day. Golden hour is the hour just after sunrise or just before sunset and is aptly named for the yellow hue the sun casts. This warms any scene.
If you’ve been working during golden hour and want to try something new, go out during the blue hour. This is the hour just before sunrise or just after sunset. It provides an attractive tone for your subject and scenery.
3. Consider composition
If you hang around stock photographers long enough, you might be convinced that the best composition comes with the Rule of thirds — (dividing your frame into thirds vertically and horizontally and using the intersecting lines as focal points).
But using creative composition techniques, like framing your subject with elements like branches, using reflections, following leading lines or making your subject relatively large in a scene, can also create images that pop.
4. Lens options
Your smartphone may offer multiple types of lenses. Try using your wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens to capture stunning landscapes and broader scenes. Look into your camera panel to create panoramas, time-lapse or macro images.
Avoid using optical zoom (pinch and squeeze). All this does is reduce the number of pixels you are capturing in the image. It is better to shoot with the best quality lens you have at 100%, then use post-processing apps to crop afterward.
5. Change your perspective
When you’re walking around, glance up, look down, and don’t be afraid to look behind you as you walk. What scenes are you missing? Get higher or lower to see your subject in a new way.
Try looking through things. Hold your thumb and index fingers together. From this perspective, what stands out? Try a few other perspective-changing techniques, like colored lenses or looking at things upside-down.
6. Depth of field
Many cameras allow you to play with the depth of field in an image, which means you can control whether the background is in focus. Tap or click here to learn how to add lenses to your smartphone camera.
Setting a very shallow depth of field will make your subject stand out, while a deeper field will capture more of the context for the shot.
7. Long exposure
Using long exposure can lead to some dramatic photos. Look for subjects with natural motion like a waterfall, stream, flowers in the wind, etc., and set your shutter speeds to 20 seconds or more. This creates an attractive blur effect.
It is vital to have a small tripod or other secure support to ensure your camera is as perfectly still as possible during the shot. Play with the length of exposure to create different looks.
8. Photo editing apps
Don’t limit your photos to what you can capture straight out of camera (SOOC). When you shoot with a smartphone, you have access to many creative apps.
Look at the built-in filters that come with your system, or download a free photo editing app to spice up your masterpieces.
By utilizing all these techniques, you should be able to create unique images that capture gorgeous photos. Don’t be afraid to play with your settings, try new apps, change lenses, and more. Happy photographing!