Easy Costa Rica Travel Photography With Your Smartphone

smart phone photos

Costa Rica travel photography is made easy by beautiful surroundings and smartphones. 

Unless you’re a professional photographer or a photo buff, you don’t have all the bells and whistles for fancy photo shoots while traveling in Costa Rica. And, let’s face it, most people don’t travel to Costa Rica with loads of specialized camera equipment; the gear is expensive and a pain to carry from place to place. But you can still capture great travel photographs on your Costa Rica vacation. All you need are a few affordable and easy-to-use accessories for your smartphone. Adding those to a few pro tricks is everything you need to get outstanding photos.

Lenses for Your Smartphone

These days, there are a variety of lenses at various prices, and TechRadar has published a list of its top 10 lenses. Their top pick is Olloclip’s XS Max Clip; it comes with a 180 fisheye and 15x, super-wide macro. The Olloclip set is suggested for intermediate and advanced iPhone shutterbugs. Moment’s Tele Lens, with a 60mm focal length, is a good start for beginners using either an iPhone or Android. If the price is no object and you don’t mind that the casing is a bit ungainly, ExoLens with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle 18mm is a top-quality lens for iPhones. Nelomo Universal is economical for iPhone or Android beginners: 0.65x super-wide angle, 15x macro, and 230 fisheye.

Check out Adobe Lightroom for iOS or Android to help you organize and manipulate your photographs. It has many capabilities beyond editing, and the introductory tutorial guides you through its many features.

Play with your smartphone’s camera; does it have any advanced capabilities? Newer smartphone cameras have a lot of features that will help you compose pro shots. Try turning on the camera’s grid for help with photo composition. Find out if your smartphone camera has different modes: portrait, landscape, etc. Know what your camera can do before you start shooting; that way, you won’t miss that one-in-a-million shot of a resplendent quetzal in Monteverde while trying to figure out how to do what you want.

Tips for Better Costa Rica Photographs

If you don’t know some of the basics of good travel photography, no camera will give you the desired results. If you can remember a few simple rules, you’re sure to capture some outstanding images.

The best light for photography happens just after sunrise and the hour before sunset. It’s called the golden hour for the warm, rich lighting. You’ll avoid the harsh light and deep shadows that can cause contrast problems and hot spots in your photographs.

If you hope to get a great shot of the vendors setting up at San José’s Central Market, go early. You won’t have crowds of people between you and your subject. Similarly, stay later in the day for fewer people in your shot of the last surfer coming in at Playa Teresa. Be there when the hordes aren’t.

Putting your subject dead center in the photograph is tempting and easy. It’s a rookie mistake everyone makes at first. The solution is the rule of thirds: divide your image into thirds, horizontally and vertically.

Suppose you’re in Arenal, Costa Rica, and want to get a great shot of the Arena Volcano. Move your camera so that Arenal Volcano is to one side or another, up or down. That way, you’ll emphasize how the volcano rises from the plain around it. Use the grid feature on your camera to help.

Play the angles. Be creative with perspective and move yourself around. For instance, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago has been photographed, usually from 1,000 yards away, “to get it all in.” Don’t try to get it all; aim up at the tower and look for architectural features to shoot. A few steps to one side or forward can make all the difference in what you capture; look for the unexpected in your shots.

Avoid having a lot of open space in the foreground if you can; fill up your photo instead of trying to fit everything in and leaving space around the edges. Likewise, look for opportunities to frame your image. Trust your viewfinder to tell you when you’ve got it right.

Costa Rica Travel Photography is Easy 

You can turn your smartphone snaps into great travel photography with practice and patience. Use the Costa Rica travel photography tips and tricks listed above and you’ll find your photos competing with the likes of National Geographic!


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