4 Tips for Taking Surprising Mobile Photos

It doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone or an Android there are a few things you can do to get your mobile photography to the next level. All of the photos included with the tips were taken with my Google Pixel phone. I normally shoot with a big Hasselblad camera, but sometimes I have with me is my phone. I’ve come up with some great tricks to make them look as surprising and incredible as possible.

1) Don’t hit that big circle on the screen to take the photo. Use the Vol Up button on the side! One, when you jab the screen with your finger, you’re causing camera-shake and it will make your photo more blurry. Two, using the volume up button allows you to hold the camera much more steady with one or two hands.

Image 1

This was taken an underground Turkish bath in Budapest, Hungary. This is Olya, my crazy Russian videographer, who traveled through Europe with us to make some inspirational and tutorial videos.

2) Experiment with the mobile app Snapseed! It’s free and available for Android and iOS. This is, by far, the best app for editing your photos on your phone. There are many tools in there and many different filters. One great thing about Snapseed is you can layer many different filters together to really give your photo a unique look. People will wonder how you did it!

Image 2

Here’s a fun family photo from a few months ago when we rode camels near the pyramids in Egypt. I used Snapseed filters to give it this “look.”

3) Take some cheeky street photos. If you’re like me, as you walk around the streets, you often see interesting people, crazy outfits, or just kooky things you find interesting. It can sometimes be embarrassing to blatantly aim your phone at these things, so get used to using the Volume Up button to take the photos. On the Pixel phone, for example, I can turn on the camera by double-clicking the power button. Then I move my finger to volume-up to take the photo. Your horizon will probably be off, but you can fix that later.

Image 3

Here’s a cheeky street photo I took in Budapest, Hungary. This is my assistant Tane. He’s not posing; this is literally how he looks all the time.

4) Try combining your phone with an iPad or tablet to edit your photos to the next level. Professional photographers know that a photo reads differently on a larger screen. Next time you’re at a coffee shop, why not zap your photo over to your tablet (via Google Photos or Airdrop), then use Snapseed to edit it there. A good photo always looks better bigger on a tablet, so don’t feel like you’re forced to use that tiny little screen.

Image 4

This a photo I took in Aruba. I was jogging on the beach, and of course I had my mobile phone with me. I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly, and there’s no way I would go on a jog and carry a Hasselblad! But it’s nice to always have the phone with me and take a ton of photos, picking out the best after I sit down to relax.

Image 5

Here’s a panorama of three different photos I took while on a walk here near my home in New Zealand. Since I have an Android, I use Google photos. One great thing about Google Photos is there’s a little AI assistant that will “gift” you a panorama if it senses you took a lot of photos close together.

Image 6

Near my home on the south island of New Zealand, there is this amazing place to watch the sunset called Lake Hayes. I forgot my big Hasselblad camera, so all I had was my phone. There’s a saying that the Best Camera is the one you have with you!

A little more from the Italian Coast

More from Cinque Terre

I wonder what it would be like to live in a place like this? Would you get tired of it, or would you get tired of it after a few months or years? I don’t know how you could get tired of it (well,me, not being a city-guy)! Plus, every day italian food? I mean, it’s all they have, so that really takes away the guilt factor.

Daily Photo – A little more from the Italian Coast

How much fun are quadcopters in places like this? Too much fun! It's almost like you can't take a bad shot. I was wishing I had those new goggles from DJI you can wear so I could do everything from a first-person perspective. I normally fly with a spotter beside me while I stare at the screen. It works great except daytime flying often has a massive glare on the screen. I think those goggles are going to be radical!

A little more from the Italian Coast

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-02 18:30:40
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

New Interview from the Ritz-Carlton

Here’s a link in the Ritz-Carlton Journeys magazine that talks more about the nature of the tour we just did in Europe. I hope you enjoy the photos, if nothing else! 🙂

Today’s photo of Milan doesn’t really match up with the top article because there is no Ritz-Carlton here, but there is an amazing Bvlgari hotel where we stayed. I’ll have to attach a photo of the pool soon!

Daily Photo – The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

I took this one on our photo walk. It's funny because a lot of times on the photo walk, I am too rushed to get a decent shot. But it worked out well in this situation! This is actually two different shots, stacked vertically in a vertirama. I have a new video coming up for Passport Members that shows a new technique for stacking photos! 🙂

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-05 19:29:48
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

More from Wolfsburg

In case you missed this photo from last week, this is the huge car-delivery robot right by the pool below!

The Giant Car Robot

Daily Photo – The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

This is a crazy little scene, eh? Yeah, this is the view from the pool at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany. I didn't have enough time to stay at the hotel, but I did run around this whole area and take a bunch of photos. For true Volkswagen aficionado, this is kind of a mecca. New owners come here from all over the world to pick up their new cars (from the photo above) and drive them back home.

The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-22 11:49:09
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Moscow Like You’ve Never Seen It

Back to Moscow

I was only here for a rocket-ship ride of four days. It’s not nearly enough… there’s so much going on in Moscow, so many places to see, much less the rest of Russia. It’s way high on my list to return here… and it was great to have Olya be our translator!

Daily Photo – Moscow Like You've Never Seen It

I would have never recognized this in a million years as Moscow. It was a really hard shot to get and I almost killed myself. There's a famous restaurant called The White Rabbit that you may remember from Season 3 of Chef's Table. Anyway, we were eating here and had a great meal. After we ordered, I jumped up to take my tripod outside to see the scene. This was behind the restaurant and there was no easy way to get the shot… so it required a wee bit of camera parkour!

Moscow Like You've Never Seen It

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-06-04 21:40:11
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time4
  • Aperture5
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length57.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Snapchat Spectacles

Follow me on Snapchat

My name on there is simply “treyratcliff”!

Daily Photo – Snapchat Spectacles

Down on Grand Cayman Island, I was using these Snapchat Spectacles all the time. Everyone under 25 seemed to know exactly what they were and wanted to play with them. If you don't know, there is a little camera up there that records 10 seconds of video then sends it out to all your snapchat followers. It's kind of a fun thing! Anyway, this gal was over by the pool having a Moscow Mule and she asked to try them on!

Snapchat Spectacles

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-16 07:06:25
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture4
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Approaching the Palace

We’re back again to the Pena Palace!

Let’s take a little walk down two-week memory lane! Here’s another picture of this same place from another hilltop forest.

Day 3 - Portugal - Disneycastle (53 of 61)

Daily Photo – Approaching the Palace

I don't think it's too hard to request special access to this palace so you can be in there alone. We had a whole hour to run around in the morning. You just can't take a bad photo in this place. It's so colorful and decadent… I can't even imagine living here

Approaching the Palace

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-17 08:29:47
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture22
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Ship Sailing at Sunset in Aruba

Reminder on the new X1D Review

Don’t forget to pop over to the new Hasselblad X1D Review when you get a chance!

Daily Photo – Ship Sailing at Sunset in Aruba

I came up with a new sub-hobby with my quadcopter – ship-chasing! I was sitting on the beach here in Aruba and watching these beautiful boats at sunset. They were too far away to get a good land-based photo of, so I launched the quad and started chasing them out there as far as I could go. I was a really bad judge of distance… this boat had to have been about 10 miles out at sea, but it only looked like 1 mile!

Ship Sailing at Sunset in Aruba

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-19 06:21:35
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length124.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-2.3

A Scene in London

Advice: Ignore People on Social Media!

Hehe… I do this quite a bit. I mean, I read all the comments, but I certainly ignore the negative ones. Even more importantly, I don’t mind if a photo doesn’t get much reaction at all. Like today’s photo for example. I really like it… I find it very interesting and kind of clever! I mean, you guys know I don’t take myself seriously and I’m not over-patting myself on the back. But when I posted it, it got basically no reaction. Hey, that’s cool… what’s important is that I like it. So, take that to heart when posting your own work. Don’t try to post photos of things because you think other people will like them – do and share work that pleases you!

City of London???

As I was working on this photo, it suddenly struck me, “Hey London! Why the hell did you pay for this incredibly shitty photo? I mean look at it… this woman looks depressed. It looks like she could be mugged at any second. There’s trash and ugly grass all over the place. Power lines. I mean, what the heck is the point of this picture and how much was it commissioned for? Oh well, who am I to judge.

Daily Photo – A Scene in London

One day we took a few Mini Coopers on a really fun tour around London. I got to see a lot of places I had never been before. A lot of cities have these tours, and I recommend them very much. The drivers tell you all kinds of interesting little facts as you whip around the cities. This tour was called “Big City Little Car” and was a blast. While driving along, I saw this out the window.

A Scene in London

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-13 17:58:55
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length32.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Monet’s Garden in Giverny

Time to Re-Arrange my Portfolio!

I’ve not taken the time in the last 6 months to swap out my favorite portfolio images. I try to get in there every 3 months or so, but I’ve been too busy. I do very much enjoy the process. Most of you know that I keep my portfolio over on Smugmug – they’ve been great and are still the best.

If you go see my portfolio there, you may notice the top 100 photos or so will be changing in the next few days as I endeavor to re-arrange. I always advise this for photographers of all levels. Go in every few months and see if you have any new photos that get into your top 100!

Monet's Garden in Giverny

When our bus pulled out of Paris on the way to Normandy, we decided to stop in Giverny and the home of Claude Monet. Since Monet is one of my favorite painters, I wanted to do my humble best to capture his garden pond and lilypads in all their glory!

Monet's Garden in Giverny

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-10 11:45:52
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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