When you’re traveling to exotic lands and reach the top of some distant summit in the crisp air and mid-day sunshine, capturing that perfect moment with your smartphone camera is effortless. However, when you celebrate with your pals at night in a dimly lit club, that Kodak moment is bound to be blurry. Anyone can take a great smartphone photo in ideal, naturally lit conditions, but getting those low-light shots takes a little finessing. For vacationers and explorers hoping to document their travels with quality photos no matter the conditions, here are four tips and tricks for taking quality photos in artificially lit and low-light settings.
Use the Right Camera Phone
Most importantly, you’ll need a smartphone with a good camera, one with a low-light sensor specifically designed for those hard-to-capture shots. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a crisp, bright display and a 360-degree VR camera that comes with the low-light sensor. Additionally, in low-light conditions, the SG7 camera can even hone in on moving subjects, preserving detail without too much fuzz, so if you plan to run with the bulls at twilight, this camera phone will make sure that you have the pictures to prove it.
Adjust ISO setting
Normally, you would need to lengthen the exposure to get a decent low light shot, but it takes a while and often you end up with a blurry pic due to the slight motion of the camera of the subject. So, you need to be faster, but snapping off pics too quickly means under-exposed images. To achieve balance, try adjusting up the ISO (International Standards Organization) setting, meaning the camera’s level of sensitivity to light. Found on some Android and Windows phones, a higher ISO setting means the camera adjusts to the light available more quickly, allowing you to snap the shot faster, which generally means a less blurry photo.
Try HDR Mode
Though not ideal for very low light, the HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode on your smartphone works well in moderately low light or when there are varying levels of light in your frame of focus. In HDR mode, the camera takes three or five shots in fast succession and in different levels of exposure, then all of the photos are forged together. The result is a “high dynamic range” of brightness and color. If your travels lead you to a scenic landscape but the vibrant light of the sky overwhelms the dark, textured ground, HDR mode would be perfect for balancing these elements.
Embrace the Edit App
Even with the best modes and options, some pics still may not turn out quite right. This is when an editing app should step in. Apps like PicsArt, a free and frequently used photo editor, offer the camera app, drawing tools and a design program with decorations, filters and effects. What makes it ideal for the traveling photographer, though, is that the finished products can be shared instantly on social media platforms, email and text messages so your family, friends and Facebook followers can track your progress through your photos.
Whether you’re exploring the world or the park down the street, the lighting conditions won’t always be picture perfect, but these few tips can help you make the most out of what the setting gives you and help you turn those low-light pics into luminous works of art.