Between the stellar mountain views and the crazy antics that your buddies are getting up to, there are plenty of Kodak moments to capture when you’re up on the mountain.
But if you’re exploring the mountain by way of ski boot or snowboard boot, you probably don’t want to be toting around a fancy, expensive camera. That means that you’ll have to rely on your good old smartphone to do the job.
With the help of a few rules of thumb (and a trusty app or two), you can actually use your smartphone’s camera to produce some pretty impressive photos on the mountain. Here are some tricks to get started.
If you’re trying to catch a shot of your friend sending it off a jump, it can be hard to time your photo properly. Hint #1: for most smartphones (including iPhones), the photo is taken as soon as you release the “shutter”—that means that the photo is captured when your finger comes off the button, not when it hits it.
You can improve your chances by taking several photos in a row. Apps like Action Cam and GyroLens capture multiple frames per second, ensuring that you won’t miss the moment.
Another way to capture the right moment in action sports smartphone photography involves cheating a little bit. Instead of taking a photo, record it on video. You can then take a screencap of the video when the timing is just right.
Meet the Grid
See a gorgeous mountain on the horizon? Resist the urge to snap a shot of it centered in the frame—instead, try playing by the rule of thirds.
Enable the grid setting on your phone: this will produce an overlay a tic-tac-toe style grid to help you frame your shot. Try to line up the main subjects of your photo with the points of intersection on the grid: this will yield visually-pleasing results.
Use People for Scale
It can be tough to really capture scale when shooting in the mountains. Place your friends in the shot to create a sense of scale. People will be able to see just how huge that cliff really was.
Say No to HDR and Zoom
In most cases, your smartphone camera’s HDR setting does no favors when capturing action sports. Leave it off—and while you’re at it, don’t use your phone’s zoom feature. Your photos will be more susceptible to blurriness and will also come out grainy.
If you must zoom, try getting closer to the object by simply walking towards it. If that’s not an option, rely on the cropping features of your digital editing software.
Use Two Hands
You probably wouldn’t use only one hand to capture a photo with a normal camera, so don’t do it with your smartphone, either! Use both hands to hold up your phone to get the shot—this will help keep your phone nice and steady.
Snapping shots in the snowy mountains can mean exposing your phone to lots of moisture. Keep your phone in a waterproof case between shots and do your best to keep it completely dry.
A Beautiful View Isn’t Always a Beautiful Photo
The truth is that not every beautiful view will translate into that perfect photo. Vistas, in particular, are hard to capture with any type of camera, let alone a smartphone. If you’re finding it tough to get the shot, consider putting your camera down and taking a mental photograph, instead.