Maximizing your Mobile Phone for Travel Photography

Yes, for those who still don’t know… that’s my name. HAHA.

I am not a pro in terms of photography; in fact, I barely own a legit camera. For someone who’s always tight on budget, I have long content myself with a cheap action camera and mobile phone to capture victorious and splendid moments when traveling. Of course, there were times when I wished I had a high-powered tool to photograph the beautiful arrangement of stars in the night sky, the wonders scattered across the depths of the seas, and those once in a lifetime expression of emotions upon encounters of people. Nonetheless, I have resonated this that there are some things are only meant for the eyes to see and remembered by the heart – such moments that can never be relegated to the camera and compressed on the walls of the picture. However, there are times when it’s difficult to answer the call for creativity and composition – this is where innovation comes in.

Mind the Now: Butuan – A Blogging and Mobile Photography Workshop

Last January I was asked to share some insights on how to convey the journey of traveling through photos shared on social media through Huawei Sugbo’s Mind the Now: Butuan Blogging and Mobile Photography Workshop. With the growing number of excellent photographers in the area, I hesitated accepting such offer at first. Come to think of it, I am but a novice in this field; however, given that such rare opportunity, I was challenged to come up with a presentation on how to maximize the use of a smartphone for photography in the light of travel blogging. So here’s a snippet of what I’ve shared:

Thanks to the creative mind behind for this photo :)

Draw Inspiration. Photography is subjective; thus, what I infer as beautiful can be not as appealing for others. However, no matter how subjective, there are general set of guidelines followed when taking pictures so as to satisfy the kind of “beautiful” the audience wants. Therefore, you have to draw inspiration from people who’s been followed by many, who has won several awards, and those who has made photography into a living. Through observing and studying how their photos were taken, you will initially get an idea how to capture yours next time.

Acknowledge Limitations. Though mobile phones come handy and have been engineered to, at least, match the capacity of DSLRs, we have to accept the fact that not everyone can afford to buy the latest smartphones offered by different communication companies. So the next step you have to do is to accept the limitations of your phone. Can it take long exposure shots? Can it record tail lights? Does it have a high resolution? How about the ISO and shutterspeed? Before you sulk in frustration because you can’t capture sceneries the way you want it, you have to learn to accept the limitations of your camera so to proceed to the next step – innovation.

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Night mode capacity of Huawei Gr5  at Campo Siete White Cave (c) Dakilanglaagan

Know Capacity. Hand in hand with identifying the limitations, you have to also find the strengths of your camera. Explore its settings using manual and automatic modes. Do not be afraid to change settings – brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, shadows, temperature, white balance, and the like.

Light Painting with Silky Water using Huawei Gr5 at Lulugayan Falls (c) Dakilanglaagan
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Night Mode capture with 3.2 second shutterspeed at Fuente Osmena (c) Dakilanglaagan
Light Painting with Car Light Trails at Cebu Capitol (c) Dakilanglaagan
Playing with Bokeh lights at Sugbo Mercado (c) Dakilanglaagan

Innovate. Once you’ve settled what you can and can’t do with your phone, you can now start the innovation process – enhancing and editing the photos so as to match the beauty and give justice to the actual landscape. Thanks to technology, we are now able to easily access (and download) different mobile editing apps like VSCO, Lightroom, Snapseed, or maximize the built-in applications of your phone or social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr. Just bear in mind to avoid over-editing to the point of fooling people when in reality it’s not as majestic as it has been shown on your photos.

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Processed with VSCO with e3 preset (c) Dakilanglaagan
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Processed with VSCO with c8 preset (c) Dakilanglaagan
Processed with VSCO with HB1 preset (c) Dakilanglaagan

Learn more. No one’s too old to learn something. So no matter at what age you are in, you can continue attending workshops and joining lectures on how to further enhance what you know with regards to taking photos. For millennials alike, you can also maximize the power of hashtag to be notified with the latest trends on photography.

3rd Placer of Cebu Mobile Shutterbug’s Beach Challenge
Reflecting lights of Mactan Cebu International Airport maximized as leading lines (c) Dakilanglaagan
Symmetry. Stairs to Temple of Leah. (c) Dakilanglaagan
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Processed with VSCO with p4 preset at Horizons 101 (c) Dakilanglaagan

Allow mistakes. And of course, you can’t perfect it overnight. Photography is a skill; it needs time to master. And even those whose lives revolves around taking pictures still commits massive mistakes. It is a continuous process of trial and error.

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Processed with VSCO with e6 preset at Danao Peak (c) Dakilanglaagan
Processed with VSCO with q3 preset
Processed with VSCO with q3 preset at Olanggo Island (c) Dakilanglaagan
Bantayan Island with Laag Sparkles (c) Dakilanglaagan
Pitch Black Background. Automatic Mode with Flash. Processed using Snapseed (c) Dakilanglaagan
Pyramid (c) Dakilanglaagan

So, to be able to capture good photos, be a DAKILA! Draw inspiration. Acknowledge limitations. Know capacity. Innovate. Learn more. Allow mistakes. HAHAHA (mema). But more than anything else, more than relegating to the world how beautiful the place and whatever you’re seeing were, make sure to enjoy it firsthand. Because when you have fully integrated into you the beauty set before you, taking photos will come handy.

Tinagong Dagat of Mt. Mandalagan (c) Dakilanglaagan

Special thanks to Huawei Sugbo headed by Sir Herbert of Drift Stories for the invite, TBKK, Hotel Oasis, Tuna Republik, Island Tea Co, and most especially to Almont Inland Resort and Almont City Hotel for housing the guests and Huawei Sugbo Team.

Photo op with the whole team. Thanks everyone! :) :) :)

Hope you learned something! See you on trails!

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