8 Ways To Take Great Vacation Photos Using Your Smartphone

I have to say I'm not the best when it comes to taking photos on my smartphone, so I thought it might be great to capture some of what I've found the be the most practical tips to help take a better photo.

Most over 50's aren't the best at grasping technology, so I have sought out the best and easily used tips to make photography easier. Gizmodo have provided a range of tips which are easy to implement when on the fly, for those of us who know little about the subtle nuances of photography.

In the never-ending quest to take the best photos when traveling overseas, it can be tempting to splurge on a Digital SLR camera when walking around the duty free shops at the airport. However with just a few tips it's easy to take high-quality photographs from the default camera application on any iPhone or Android device. So let's take a look at how its done.

For the purposes of this guide I have focused on features in the default camera applications for the latest versions of iPhone and Android devices.

1. The Rule Of Thirds

This is a standard photography term used to describe and act as a guide to help us frame a shot correctly. Imagine your shot as split up into nine rectangular segments to keep important objects and elements running along these lines, or close to the intersections where they meet.


With the camera apps pre-installed on Android and iPhones you don't need to visualize these lines yourself. On an Android device simply tap the menu button and choose Settings then select, 'Show grid' in viewfinder. On an iPhone, go to Photos and Camera in the main Settings app and toggle the 'Grid switch' to 'on'.

2. Clean The Lens

One of the more practical aspects of taking good mobile photos is making sure the camera lens is clean, as any spots on the lens are going to impact the mobile picture quality, so it pays to keep this part of your phone as clean as you can.

No special equipment is required for the job just a clean lint-free cloth should work fine in most instance. Using a cotton swab very lightly dampened with distilled water is another option if you need to clean specks of dirt that are on the top of the lens.

3. Change Your Focal Point

Whether you use an iPhone or an Android device it's possible to tap the screen anywhere to change the focus in the image. This also adjusts the exposure level to match the spot you've selected, making it a handy way to brighten a darker area, by or dimming a light one.


Owners of an iPhone can tap and hold to lock the focus and exposure, so it stays fixed even if the phone then moves, or tap, hold, and drag up or down to manually change the exposure level yourself. You will notice a small sun icon which shows the light changes.

4. Steady Support

Taking photos with a mobile phone does require a steady hand, particularly in low light situations where the phone is going to struggle to get much light into the lens. Budding photographers can purchase mobile tripods to get the best results, however from my perspective it's just another thing to carry around with you on holiday.


In the absence of a tripod, use something a steady fixed object nearby to keep the phone steady. The self-timer in the camera apps for Android and iPhones can help too by letting you leave your phone up on a shelf somewhere without having to get behind it.

5. Make The Most Of The Available Light

Getting your subject positioned in a well lit area is crucial to a great photo, so look around your environment to find the best sources of light. Be it the natural light from the sun, artificial room lighting or illuminated signs.


That might mean repositioning the target, changing the angle of the close-up shot, looking for a area with more shade or waiting until later in the day to take the photo. Avoid strong light behind your subjects if at all possible.

6. Use the Shutter Button

Sometimes it can be difficult to hold the phone in place and then tap a software shutter button in the middle of the screen. Oftentimes it can cause the phone to wobble at the critical moment when you are taking the shot.


One solution is to use either of the physical volume buttons to take the picture instead. This works on iPhones, Nexus devices and most other Android phones. Sometimes though it's not always going to be the best option but it can be a useful alternative in some situations.

7. Automatically Apply HDR Mode

Most camera apps for Android and iPhones now include auto HDR modes that apply a High Dynamic Range filter, when the situation requires it. The HDR toggle switch is located right on the shutter screen itself of the phones themselves.


High Dynamic Range in mobile photography refers to keeping the darkest and lightest parts of an image in balance, so a bright sky doesn't completely obliterate a dark landscape. It requires a longer exposure so be sure to keep the phone as steady as you can.

8. Take Photos In A Burst

The camera apps for both Android and iPhone come with a built-in burst mode. If you don't trust yourself to get the perfect shot in one go, take several at once and then choose the best of the bunch later.


To take a photo burst on an Android or iPhone simply press and then hold the shutter button for as long as you want to take pictures. In the case of Android-powered phones, users can enter the settings menu to enable or disable some 'smart' help in choosing the best burst photo.

Sandra Hawkins

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