Travel Photography: How to Make the Most of Your Cellphone Camera

Travel Photography: How to Make the Most of Your Cellphone Camera

Travel Photography: How to Make the Most of Your Cellphone Camera

Travel Photography: How to Make the Most of Your Cellphone Camera

By James Hill

A cellphone allows travelers to have a camera always at the ready. The latest phones offer multiple lenses with better resolution and enhanced macro and telephoto capabilities, enabling virtually every moment to be captured for posterity. This can be both a blessing and a curse. When should we be taking a photograph and when should we simply be taking the time to look and wonder at the world around us?

Here are a few tips on when and what to shoot, and how to better frame what we see when we travel.

Imagine your photos as an album

Try to capture a wide variety of images. While it is important to concentrate on classic landscape shots and portraits, also search for photographs with arresting colors and shapes, as well as the details of objects, works of art, and food — the things that flavor a place and weave its visual tapestry. Imagine each picture as a jigsaw piece needed to complete an album’s puzzle. It’s useful to arrange these images in a separate folder on your phone, making one album for your favorites and another for the rest. That way you’ll be in better shape when it comes to the important task of editing.

Find your horizon

Steven Spielberg ends his autobiographical film, “The Fabelmans,” with a meeting with the legendary director John Ford. Ford’s main piece of advice? Place the horizon toward the top or bottom of the picture because the middle is “boring.” This idea — also known as the rule of thirds — divides the frame into thirds, horizontally and vertically. The concept is to find a more dynamic angle by visualizing the scene or subject not centered, but rather a third of the way up or down (or across) the frame. On most cell phones, you can set up a three-by-three grid for the screen in the camera settings.

Layer your picture with details

Successful landscape shots draw the eye across the whole frame, and for that you need to search for points of interest in the foreground, middle ground and distance. Find a vantage point that lets you see the different layers of a scene. Test different compositions by turning your cellphone both vertically and horizontally, and, if you have a choice of lenses, decide if the scene is best framed tightly or wide. Another way to enrich the landscape is to spot a person or an object and place them carefully in the frame as a focal point. It could be someone walking alone along a beach, or a tree on a hillside, or a horse in a field or a bicycle leaning against a wall. But look for something that catches the eye, giving scale and contrast to the scene.

For portraits, find the right backdrop

Look for a clean background — a natural canvas with relatively solid coloring or shape, like a wall, open sky or foliage. If that’s not possible, move around the subject to find a backdrop that is less cluttered. Also, check that there are no upright objects, such as streetlamps or thin trees directly behind people’s heads, or other unwanted items in the background that will distract from the subject.

Work the frame

It’s often helpful to have a portrait shopping list: headshot, half-body and full body frames (make sure not to cut off people’s feet), as well as horizontal and vertical ones. Having these frames in mind will help you choose the best shot. Many of the latest Apple and Android phones offer a choice of inbuilt lenses with different focal lengths, which help you do this quickly. You can also use the portrait mode on your cellphone’s camera, which shortens the depth of field, blurring the background and giving a portrait style that is similar to what you would get when using wide-open apertures on longer camera lenses.

Edit your photographs more than once

Choosing the best pictures is just as important as taking them. If you have been making a separate album of your favorites, you already have a base from which to start. Nonetheless, take your time and go through all the photographs you have taken, scrolling through the images at least twice. If possible, leave a day between doing so. The eye can get overwhelmed when looking at a large number of images, and it’s easy to overlook a good picture.

Go easy on post-production

Phone cameras, just like regular cameras, are not always able to read the light correctly. Often one needs to adjust a photograph’s exposure, shadows or color temperature. A lot of this can be easily done with a phone’s inbuilt software — though there are also plenty of specialist applications like Snapseed or Adobe Photoshop Express. What you can or should do is a personal decision. But, in general, spend as little time as possible working on a picture, and concentrate on balancing tone and lighting across your selection of images so they feel cohesive in style.

Have a hungry eye

The great photographers have an insatiable eye for images, and a cellphone allows one to be ready for everything. But it’s also necessary to understand the moment clearly. Everyone wants their memories of a journey to be captured so they can reminisce later. But it’s also important to see the world without feeling the obligation to take a photograph. Sometimes the eye just needs the pleasure of looking.

The New York Times

All Eyes on AI to Drive Big Tech Earnings

OpenAI vs Microsoft- shutterstock
OpenAI vs Microsoft- shutterstock

All Eyes on AI to Drive Big Tech Earnings

OpenAI vs Microsoft- shutterstock
OpenAI vs Microsoft- shutterstock

Over the next two weeks, the quarterly results of Big Tech giants will offer a glimpse on the bankability of artificial intelligence and whether the major investments AI requires are sustainable for the long haul.
Analysts at Wedbush Securities, one of Wall Street’s biggest believers in AI’s potential, expect "growth and earnings to accelerate with the AI revolution and the wave of transformation" it is causing.
The market generally agrees with this rosy AI narrative. Analysts forecast double-digit growth for heavyweights Microsoft and Google, in contrast to Apple, a latecomer to the AI party, with only three percent growth expected.
The iPhone maker, which releases its results on August 1, unveiled its new Apple Intelligence system only last month and plans to roll it out gradually over the next months, and only on the latest models.
CFRA analyst Angelo Zino believes that the impact of these new features will not be felt until the iPhone 16 launches in September, the first to feature the new AI powers built-in across all options.
But he expects Apple's upcoming earnings to show improvement in China sales, a black spot since last year.
"Apple’s forecasts for the current quarter will be important" in assessing the company's momentum, said Zino.
But "if there's one that we were maybe a little bit more concerned about, versus the others, it would be Meta," he said.
He pointed out that Mark Zuckerberg's company raised its investment projections last April as it devoted a few billion dollars more on the chips, servers and data centers needed to develop generative AI.
CFRA expects Meta's growth to decelerate through the end of the year. Combined with the expected increase in spending on AI, that should put earnings under pressure.
As for the earnings of cloud giants Microsoft (July 30) and Amazon (August 1), "we expect them to continue to report very good results, in line with or better than market expectations," said Zino.
'Crucial' bet
Microsoft is among the best positioned to monetize generative AI, having moved the fastest to implement it across all its products, and pouring $13 billion into OpenAI, the startup stalwart behind ChatGPT.
Winning the big bet on AI is "crucial" for the group, said Jeremy Goldman of Emarketer, "but the market is willing to give them a level of patience."
The AI frenzy has helped Microsoft's cloud computing business grow in the double digits, something that analysts said could be hard to sustain.
"This type of growth cannot hold forever, but the synergies between cloud and AI make it more likely that Microsoft holds onto reliable cloud growth for some time to come," Goldman said.
As for Amazon, "investors will want to see that the reacceleration of growth over the first quarter wasn’t a one-off" at AWS, the company’s world-leading cloud business, said Matt Britzman of Hargreaves Lansdown.
Since AWS leads "in everything data-related, it should be well placed to capture a huge chunk of the demand coming from the AI wave," he added.

The picture "might be a little less clear" for Google parent Alphabet, which will be the first to publish results on Tuesday, "because of their search business" online, warned Zino.
"Skepticism around AI Overviews," introduced by Google in mid-May, "is certainly justified," said Emarketer analyst Evelyn Mitchell-Wolf.
This new feature, which offers a written text at the top of results in a Google search, ahead of the traditional links to sites, got off to a rocky start.
Internet users were quick to report strange, or potentially dangerous, answers proposed by the feature that had been touted by Google executives as the future direction of search.
According to data from BrightEdge, relayed by Search Engine Land, the number of searches presenting a result generated by AI Overviews has plummeted in recent weeks as Google shies away from the feature.
Still, many are concerned about the evolution of advertising across the internet if Google pushes on with the Overviews model, which reduces the necessity of clicking into links. Content creators, primarily the media, fear a collapse in revenues.
But for Emarketer's Mitchell-Wolf, "as long as Google maintains its status as the default search engine across most smartphones and major browsers, it will continue to be the top destination for search, and the top destination for search ad spending."