Commemorate Your Montana Vacation With Your Smartphone

At The Resort at Paws Up, set in picturesque Montana with the Blackfoot River flowing through it and the endless big sky serving as the backdrop, most guests could easily fill up a couple photo albums with all of their snapshots.   Who wouldn’t want to commemorate such a memorable Montana vacation?  Sometimes though, the images taken from a smartphone leave a lot to be desired.  Whether you are taking photos of the landscape or of your child’s first time on a horse, here are some tips to get the most out of your smartphone photographs.

The first things to consider are the resolution and image quality settings.  It may seem like a no brainer, but it is advisable to set your camera to take pictures in the highest quality (usually labeled “superfine”) and resolution.  Each photograph will take up more memory, but will be of a much better quality.  A higher resolution will allow you to have a larger image and if needed, you can always resize the image to a smaller resolution and keep the same image quality.  Trying to convert a lower resolution photograph to a larger size will result in poor image quality.

Capturing great photographs of your kids can be an arduous task.  Getting them to stand still to pose for a shot or trying to capture that big moment when they catch their first fish can be an exercise in patience.  To help make these tasks go a little bit more smoothly, preparation is key.  Make sure to have your smartphone ready and all settings adjusted to your liking.  One setting in particular to look at would be white balance; this adjusts the image based on the warmth of the lighting.  For example, a fluorescent light bulb has a bluish or cool hue which can make anything that is white in the image have a blue tint.  For outdoor photos, most camera phones have two white balance settings, one for sunny days and one for cloudy days.  Try taking several photographs using different settings to figure out which images come out best before it’s time to take the real shots.  To capture action shots, try using your camera’s continuous drive or burst mode.  In this mode, the camera will rapidly shoot a series of pictures when you press the shutter button and then you can look through and choose which image came out the best.  For those using an iPhone, this functionality is not built in, but, there’s an app for that!  Two top apps to try are Photoburst or Quadcamera.  Most Android devices do have this functionality built in, but for those that do not, or for a more robust menu of options, try Action Snap or Fast Burst Camera.

For photographing the natural beauty of the landscapes that can only be found at a place like Paws Up, try using the HDR functionality.  This functionality is built into the iPhone and Android users can download a free app such as HDR Camera.  HDR stands for high dynamic range imaging and works to correct over and under exposure seen on landscape images.  This is caused when a shot has a lot of different lighting in it, from shadows to very bright sun light.  For instance, a landscape could have the bright sun glaring overhead down on a lake that creates reflections and then deep shadows underneath a group of trees.  Typically a camera phone tries to adjust the image based on just one of these light conditions which does not do justice to the other areas of the image where different light conditions are present.  With the HDR setting, the phone will actually take multiple shots at different exposures when the shutter button is pressed and then combine the best of the images into one image.  This creates a dramatic image with beautiful shadowing and highlights.

When you are back at home after a fun-filled trip to The Resort at Paws Up and it is time to upload your photographs to your computer, keep in mind that even professional photographers do a little bit of post processing to their photos – it’s not cheating! There is an abundance of free programs and websites out there for image editing, ranging from the simple to use like picmonkey.com, to more advanced programs like pixlr.com, to complex programs like GIMP 2.  Programs like these allow users to edit out redeye or glare.  While photo editing may seem like too much work for your family vacation photo album, it can be a great way to make some of the most special images even more beautiful.

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