Kirsten Alana answers your mobile photography questions

June 25, 2012 by Flight Centre UK

Ever wanted to know how to take better travel snaps with your mobile? Sick of lugging your bulky camera around?

Mobile photographer and iPhoneography expert Kirsten Alana joined us for a live Facebook chat where she divulged all her tips and tricks in response to your questions. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.

Flight Centre: What are the advantages of using a mobile for travel photography?

Kirsten: I think the main advantage of using a good mobile phone or device over a camera is the immediacy. Images can be taken, and shared, far quicker than with the cameras we have been carrying with us. And with many mobile devices over 8 megapixels now, certainly there’s less reason to worry about size and quality.

James Thompson: What are the most useful iPhone app for taking photos?

Kirsten: I think one of the most useful for people just beginning is Camera+. It does all the basics, is easy to use and the filters are adjustable so you can apply them in an extreme manner or be a little more subtle about it. Also, it will teach you the rule of thirds if you shoot in the app with the grid, a feature that can be turned on or off.

One of the more useful in terms of features is Filterstorm. It’s like Photoshop for the iPhone and has even more options than Adobe’s PS Express app.

Steve Biggs: Is it sometimes better to leave photos ‘nude’ (i.e. not Instagram them to death with filters and burning, etc)?

Kirsten: I think it’s often better to leave photographs as untouched as possible. Photographers often call this SOOC (straight out of camera). However, there’s nothing wrong with filters and effects if you learn to apply them in a way that they add to the image and don’t take away from it.

Flight Centre: What are your favourite things to shoot?

Kirsten: I love landscapes and I love the details of places. People are the most challenging, but therefore often the most rewarding, for me to shoot.

I was just in Keystone, Colorado last week and this image in particular will stay with me for some time. The Rocky Mountains are a beautiful place for a photographer.

Kirsten Alana

Mark Stone: Apart from portraits and close shots using the flash, I find night shot scenes and very dark environments hard to get right on an iPhone – any advice?

Kirsten: There are a couple of apps that are helpful for iPhone photographers shooting in low light: Cortex Cam, AvgCamPro and the ‘reduce noise’ setting in PS Express. Also, use a glif + tripod to take a longer exposure just like you would with a dSLR.

Another tip for low light though is to use it to your advantage. Expose for the lightest area of the image instead of the darkest and create moody, dramatic images with high contrast on purpose. It can be really fun once you get the hang of it! Just takes practice.

Flight Centre: What are your favourite images?

Kirsten: I am so fickle about my own work, I cannot tell you what the best shot I’ve ever taken is. This is one of the most popular wedding images I ever took:

Kirsten Alana

This is one of my favorites of NYC:

Kirsten Alana

This is a recent favorite that was taken with my iPhone 4S on the first full day I was using it. It’s in Charles de Gaulle airport.

Kirsten Alana

Flight Centre: And of course we want to know – do you have any crap snaps to enter?

Kirsten: I took at LOT of crap snaps when I was young and experimenting with photography. You won’t see them online 😉

In all seriousness though, I still take bad photographs. Everyone will at some point. If you’re not occasionally taking a bad photograph, I think that means you are not experimenting enough and are not pushing yourself enough. No one should think they have fully arrived or fully conquered all there is. To me, being a photographer is about constantly learning and trying new things! This will inevitably result in a crap snap or two once in a while :)

Thanks to Kirsten for the helpful tips. To read more of what Kirsten has to say, check out our previous blog post, and take a look at Kirsten’s website.  

We’re exciting to put Kirsten’s tips into practice! But if you find your snaps aren’t coming out as beautifully as Kirsten’s – enter them into our World’s Worst Travel Photographer competition now! There is a special category devoted to mobile photography. You could win a £200 travel voucher and a photography course.

This competition is now closed for entries. Thanks to everyone who sent their crapsnaps our way.