10 tips for better vacation photos and becoming the king of Instagram

It is summer and vacation that go with it for many. That's why we've put together a small list of tips to help you take better photos while traveling. In this article, we are obviously talking about smartphones and so we took all the photos with the mobile phone. But of course, most of the tips also apply to conventional cameras.

Quick access

  1. General photography tips
  2. Photo tips for your smartphone
  3. Tips for finding a subject / landscape / motif

General photography tips

Rule of thirds and golden ratio

You have a beautiful landscape, but don't know how to align the camera? The rule of thirds and the golden ratio often help. In the first case, the image is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. The most important parts of the landscape are now simply aligned with the lines, ideally even at intersections.

01 camera tipps rule of thirds
The person and the horizon are aligned on the grid. AndroidPIT

The golden ratio works very similarly, but the lines here are all slightly more shifted towards the center of the image. While the photos taken according to the rule of thirds seem a little more exciting, the golden ratio creates a more harmonious effect. Think what best suits your mobile.

With the vast majority of camera applications, screens for the rule of thirds and the golden ratio can be placed on the viewfinder image. The corresponding option can be found in the application settings.

02 camera tipps grid
Most camera applications can display different types of grids above the viewfinder image. AndroidPIT

Of course, these rules are not immutable. Particularly symmetrical photos, such as those with reflections, can also develop particular appeal.

Foreground and background

"The foreground makes the image healthy" is a simple motto of photography. If you integrate a foreground in the image, you can indicate to the spectator an additional detail. Did you climb on the rocks for hours to take this photo? Are you lying in the grass? For example, hold a few blades of grass in front of the lens or place a few sharp-edged stones in the foreground.

03 camera tipps foreground
Whether at breakfast or through a peephole in the garden: although there is not much going on here, the photos have an additional story with a foreground. AndroidPIT

Line and depth management

In addition to playing with the foreground and background, you can also use lines to add depth to your photo. Look for the lines that go in the foreground towards the depth and let them pass through your photo. This automatically gives the images some tension and dynamism.

04 camera tipps lines
Whether in the middle or on the side, the deep lines make the photos more interesting / AndroidPIT

Light and shadow

There is probably no other central element in the photography than light. Omitting it is not an option, which is why we break the subject of light into two properties: Direction and quality.

The quality of light is described as hard or soft and depends on the size of the light source. The sun is an extremely small source of light (of course relatively visible;)) and provides very strong light and strong shadows. The shapes are worked out very clearly, which is generally not very flattering with portraits.

09 camera tipps light
Left: strong light at lunchtime; Right: soft light shortly before sunset – the soft light provides a more flattering display, the direction of the light is always the same. AndroidPIT

But the sunlight can also become soft, especially by reflection. For example, if a person is the shade and the sun passively clears a wall of the white house, the shadows will be very soft. The same is true in the evening and in the morning before sunset or after sunrise. Here, the sunlight travels much further into the atmosphere, is more strongly refracted and is therefore very soft.

The direction of light also has a big influence on the image effect: if the light comes directly from the camera, there are few contrasts in the image. The lateral light, on the other hand, as in the two examples above, gives a more plastic and contrasting effect.

Photo tips specially designed for your smartphone

Wide angle, the lens: try your luck

Almost all modern smartphones are equipped with several photo sensors, including wide-angle or telephoto sensors. So you should take advantage of it. Get to know the different settings and take a closer look at whether the image quality at different zoom levels still meets your expectations. If, at some point, the digital zoom starts up when enlarging, the pictures are generally not as beautiful.

05 camera tipps zoom
Too large a zoom can give quite poor results. AndroidPIT

Know your photo app

In addition to the hardware, the camera app is worth examining more closely. There are often countless interesting and hidden modes, for example to photograph fireworks, waterfalls or sophisticated effect filters. The quality of these filters has improved considerably, especially in the past two years. I advise you to express them.

06 camera tipps hdr
#Nofilter: With the different HDR and AI modes in the luggage, the current camera algorithms work amazingly well / AndroidPIT

Often there are also useful settings for using the camera app. In most cases, you can use the volume keys as triggers – and also the keys on your headset if you need a remote control. Many smartphones also offer a snapshot function by pressing the volume button twice: the phone then starts the camera application directly from standby mode and immediately captures a photo.

Special applications: Pixaloop, FaceApp & Co.

Besides the ever new Instagram and Snapchat filters, there are also many other apps you can use to effectively edit your photos. But always be aware that use is often done under at least questionable data protection conditions, as was the case recently with FaceApp.

07 camera tipps gif
If you want to animate a photo with Pixaloop and his friends, you should rather hold back a little more with the effects. AndroidPIT

I also really appreciate the applications like PixaMotion or Pixaloop which animate each photo. You can run the water or even rotate entire buildings.

Tips for finding a subject / landscape / motif

O and especially when?

For particularly spectacular photos, a little planning is worth it. This can make a difference, especially when you visit a particular place. As mentioned above, there is the most beautiful light after sunrise or before sunset. And of course, not only does your Instagram feed benefit, but so do you, when you visit a place in its best light.

If you are traveling by plane, take a look at the route of the flight, for example on Flightradar24. Then you can get a window seat with a view of particularly spectacular landscapes or even a beautiful sunset or sunrise.

08 camera tipps flightradar24
Magnificent not only at sunset: Those who fly over the wind turbines must sit on the left side of the plane. / Flightradar24 screenshot by AndroidPIT

Look for details

We have all seen the standard photos of Prague, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro. But it's often the little details that tell the stories. Explore new places with open eyes and look for curiosities or interesting things that say something about the country.

11 camera tipps details
Of course, everyone has already seen pictures of Ha Long Bay. But I will never forget the ubiquity of plastic chairs the size of a child on which young and old eat on the street. AndroidPIT

Clean the lens, really!

The most important thing in the end: No matter what you shoot and where you do it, get used to one thing: clean your camera lens before each photo! A fingerprint on the glass makes the photos dull and muddy, the light sources project great halos onto the image. Besides, you do not need special cleaning items, your top or your t-shirt is quite sufficient. The previous photo with the plastic chair shows signs of a dirty lens with a slight shimmer on the top edge of the image. Pity.

Do you have vacation photos you're particularly proud of?

. (tagsToTranslate) Holiday photos (t) Holiday photos (t) Holiday photos (t) Photos of