You’re packing your bags for the best trip of your life. You freak out when you realize you don’t have enough space for your DSLR camera. Or maybe you don’t even have a cool camera and you just don’t want your Instagram trip photos to suck.
Never fear, camera-less traveler. You only need one thing, and it’s something you already have: your smartphone.
Here are just a few apps—and tricks within the apps—that you can use to make your mobile trip photos go from meh to Mona Lisa.
iPhone Camera App – (Free, iOS only)
Tap the screen on your focus point and drag the sun up or down to fix the exposure. Press and hold the focus point to lock the autofocus and autoexposure. Turn on the composition grid by going to “Settings,” choosing “Photos and Camera” in the list of options, and then switching on “Grid.” Compose your photo using the rule of thirds by aligning your subject at the points where the lines intersect on the grid.
Portrait Mode: On newer iPhones (anything that came after the iPhone 7 Plus besides the iPhone 8), just swipe over to Portrait Mode to take pictures with a blurry background. On any of these besides the iPhone 7 Plus, you can also use Portrait Mode to apply cool lighting effects that can make your subject look like a supermodel.
If you don’t have an iPhone, or if you just want even more, never fear. Apps like these next few are available for both Android and iOS phones.
Snapseed – (Free)
This app is probably as close to Photoshop CC as you can get without having to pay for it. It has tons of available features, including color masking, filters, curves, and white balance. It is especially known for its stunning HDR (high dynamic range) filters. It has a wide range of photo editing tools, so it isn’t for the novice photo editor, but if you’re already used to using photo editing programs like Lightroom or Photoshop, this app will give you most of the same features. Snapseed also gives you the ability to easily share your photos online to your favorite social media platforms.
Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile – (Free, Pay for premium features)
This app is great for both editing and taking photos. The in-app camera can shoot in RAW mode, which makes photos ideal for editing. Photos shot in RAW mode allow you to preserve quality when editing your photo that would otherwise be lost in JPEG format. You can also make and download editing presets to quickly apply changes.
VSCO – (Free)
This app has extensive manual shooting tools and editing tools, including tons of presets. It can shoot in RAW mode, and you can adjust the ISO (light sensitivity) easily with a slider. Not only does it have tons of filters, but you can also modify photos along the X-axis and Y-axis with the X-skew and Y-skew tools. For a full version of VSCO that includes all the latest preset filters, you can buy an annual membership called VSCO X for $19.99, or you can buy each new filter individually without signing up for a membership.
TouchRetouch – ($1.99)
This app makes it easy to remove unwanted content, such as face blemishes, from your photos. Just swipe on the object and it’s gone! The app also has a clone stamp tool—much like the one in Photoshop. Additionally, the line removal tool helps you to remove any lines you don’t want in your image. Although this app isn’t equipped with a large selection of editing tools, the ones it does include are very easy to use and their qualities compensate for the lack of other features.
With apps like these in your photo editing arsenal, your travel photos are sure to go from mediocre to marvelous in a jiffy.