Hey there fellow adventurers.
This is a blog for all you guys and girls travelling around the world (and even those who don’t), to help get a little more from your Instagram account and editing your photos. These aren’t set rules or anything, just friendly tips and an insight into how I edit/prepare and go about getting my images for Instagram. The main focus is on travel images, and I got plenty of those when I was on Tucan Travel’s overland trip from Victoria Falls to Cape Town over Christmas (2014).
Just last year, around June/July time, if you had of asked me about Instagram, I’d have told you to wise up and upload photos elsewhere, but when I got started, I was hooked. I used to think Instagram was ‘cheating’, take an average/bad photo, put a great filter on it and it suddenly became a masterpiece. The first 2 weeks of Sept (2014) I was travelling to Los Angeles on a holiday and needed somewhere to upload all my photos so friends and family could see them, so Instagram got a test run and the rest as they say. . . is history.
Shoot outside your Instagram camera. Basically, if you use the camera in the Instagram app, you’ve only got one chance to nail the shot you want. I prefer to use the phones own camera app to shoot as many photos as I think I need, then choose the best later for editing and uploading via Instagram. When using the phones camera, you have more control over the focusing, exposure, quality, among others. Sometimes I don’t even use the phone to get the image as was mostly the case on my Tucan Travel trip, which I used my Nikon DSLR then resized for Instagram when I got home. Not everything needs to be uploaded straight away.
I use my DSLR, my GoPro or even my flying camera (a Phantom2 Vision+ drone), then edit the photos on the laptop, size/crop them, add a border and logo, then transfer via cable to the phones memory, then upload them on Instagram. I understand that is a long way of doing it, but if you are 100% serious about using Instagram as a promotional tool, you NEED your best shots to look their best. The shot below was taken using the Phantom drone, then edited in Lightroom, then PS5.
Try not to use the ‘LUX’ effect, or use it as little as possible. This tool on Instagram may add a very contrasty effect, but, if you have a nice sharp/fine image, it takes away some of the sharpness. So your lovely photo will loose all that fantastic detail. I have to admit, I used to love this effect, but when I returned from my trip to Africa with Tucan Travel, I hardly used it at all as it ruined 99% of the photos. As always, there are exceptions and usually the GoPro style shots look great with some (a little) of this effect added.
This is another benefit of using your phones camera or DSLR and not using the Instagram camera. You can adjust the settings to make sure you don’t get any pure white areas in your shot. For example, if you are sitting at your campsite and watching an awesome sunset, 9 times out of 10, your camera won’t compensate for the suns brightness and leave you with a big white ball instead of a lovely warm sun. When you adjust your settings to -1EV or -2EV (EV = Exposure Value), it will make the dark areas darker, but they can be brightened up in the Instagram editing tools, and the brights spots won’t be completely blown out. This takes a bit of experimentation, but it really is worth practising, especially if you are travelling. The example below was taken with my DSLR camera but it was at -2EV so that it gave a nice silhouette the land & all the beautiful colours were kept.
Straighten your image. This is a very simple thing to edit in Instagram, but it’s amazing how many great photos aren’t straight which would make them amazing. As I was lying in my sleeping bag at night on my trip, I would go through the day sphotos which were on my phone and edit most of them and 99% of them needed straightened. Also, when you have finished editing your photo and you click the arrow to bring you to the screen where you type in your hashtags, if you click back twice it will ask you do you want to ‘discard’ you photo. It doesn’t delete it though, it still saves the edit you just made. I used this feature to edit my photos then upload them to my wordpress blog.
Be original. Think outside the box. Break the rules. Don’t be shy.
We have all seen those standard holiday/travel photos, and I admit, they look amazing, but try and get different angles and viewpoints to everyone else. Get into everything and do as much as possible. The world isn’t such a scary place as long as you are pretty sensible about things. Especially with Tucan Travel, they look after most things you would worry about on a holiday, so it gives you time to enjoy your trip and take in an experience of a lifetime. You will amaze yourself at what photos you can get that may never have been seen before. This photo below was taken at the Cheetah Park on one of our stop in Namibia and I was actually lying on the grass right infront of the cat looking up at it. I was looking to give the cheetah a strong image in the shot & I think it works well.
I hope these little tips help you to get better images from your travels. I cannot recommend Tucan Travel enough, absolute first class company. This was my 2nd trip to Africa, but my first with Tucan Travel, and it won’t be my last.
Thank you for reading and safe travels.
Mark at Image 31 Photography, Northern Ireland.
Check out the links for more of my travel photography through Africa and other work.