For me to say This is Sri Lanka, I’d only be telling you half the story of this unique island off the coast of India.  I made a mistake in Sri Lanka that I rarely make when I travel.  I made a reservation at a hotel in Colombo and that’s the only plan I made.

Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka and it’s not the most desirable city in the world.  The hotel where I stayed was also being renovated so I was jolted awake every morning by the sound of a jackhammer.  I’m an easy going kind of guy and I go with the flow wherever I am in this world.  But the bang bang bang wake up call was a bit much even for me.  And, there was no way out of the reservation.  I tried.

So, I found a small beach resort near Galle in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka and I parked myself there until it was near time to leave.  This sounds like a bad attitude to have, but the truth is I just wanted peace and quiet.  I wanted to vegetate on a beach.  And, so I did.

By taking the action I did, I missed out on what Sri Lanka truly has to offer.  I have good reason to return one day to properly explore.

All that said, I was dropped in the middle of a Sri Lanka jungle as the beach resort was overbooked a couple of nights.  Going with the flow as I normally do, I went along and had an experience I’ll never forget.  The jungle was great and I still got the peace and quiet I was seeking save for the unknown creature sounds in the middle of the night.

As with any travel destination you’ll want to take great photos.  Consider the following travel photo tips:

Use the camera grid

The “rule of thirds” is a theory that images are more aesthetically appealing when the main subject lies one third of the way across, and down, your image – it makes an image more interesting than if you put the subject square in the middle. To help you with this there is an option to place a grid of thirds over your viewfinder screen. The button to turn this on isn’t found in the camera app itself but rather the “Photos & Camera” tab in the settings app.

It also has a bonus effect – the straight line helps put an end to images with distracting wonky horizons.

Boost the contrast

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a feature that quickly takes three photos with different settings and combines them in order to get better contrast. This prevents parts of your image being over and under exposed. For instance, you could take a picture from inside a car on a sunny day and the interior of the car and the bright sky would both be visible. With a normal picture you would either find the sky washed out or the car a black smudge.

It gets an unfair reputation for producing overly dramatic shots that look digitally manipulated, but the iPhone does a relatively subtle job. Turn it on by tapping the “HDR on” option in the camera app. After you press the shutter you’ll have to wait a second or two for the processor to combine the images into one.

Don’t zoom

Often you’ll find yourself some distance from what you want to photograph, and it’s tempting to use the zoom. Don’t. The iPhone comes with a digital zoom only, meaning that all you do when you zoom in is crop your image – no extra information is recorded. So while the subject that was filling only a tiny fraction of your image is now filling the whole photo, it’ll be grainy and washed-out.

With a larger, dedicated camera you may have an optical zoom that could get you closer to the action. But on a phone camera the only way to do this is literally get closer to the action – get nearer to your subject.

Unusual angles

While phone cameras are limiting in some ways, they’re liberating in others. Their small size allows you to easily get creative shots. Most images are taken at shoulder height simply because that’s where it feels most natural to hold a camera. Get inventive with your angles: shoot from low down or high up. The results can be much more interesting.

Take a few shots

A lot of phone photography comes down to luck, and you’re three or four times more likely to get lucky if you take three or four photographs. Once you’ve got your phone out and composed a picture, you may as well press the shutter button a few times. Maybe in one of them all your subjects will even have their eyes open at the same time.

WIPE THE LENS

Unlike an expensive camera, which gets treated with kid gloves and placed in its own padded bag with a proper lens cover, your phone just gets shoved in a pocket or handbag. Consequently, the lens is likely to get a bit mucky. Get in the habit of giving it a wipe with a tie, soft corner of clothing or napkin before you take a shot and you’ll find your photographs much clearer.

 

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