During this time of social distancing and shift to finding new outdoor adventures, I see some gorgeous Finger Lakes photography happening on Instagram! From fall foliage-lined trails to breathtaking vistas, it is such a remarkable experience watching visitors see our backyard in their own individual ways. 

A while back, we asked local photographer Gabrielle Plucknette to share some of her tricks of the trade for capturing high quality photos right from your smartphone - no fancy equipment needed! Photographers on the go - listen in!

What will your Finger Lakes story look like?


#1. Find a Natural Light Source

Whenever possible, find a window, a doorway, a white wall or something that bounces light through your image. Find the best ambient—or natural—light in the room. Look at the way the light hits the subject and play with it a little. Move around the subject and find what looks best to you.


#2. Put Some Human in the Shot

It’s always great to place a person (or furry friend) in the photo to show scale. From a landscape to a table, adding something human—a hand reaching or a small figure walking—can make the photo that much better!


#3. Keep the Horizon Straight

Unless it is done intentionally, try keeping the horizon line straight. It keeps your eye on the shot rather than following the tilted horizon line off the screen.


#4. Get Closer

It’s always best to get up close to your subject rather than using the zoom on your phone. Often, the zoom will pixelate the image and lower the quality. Fill up the frame with what you want to showcase.


#5. Find a Unique Vantage Point

Shoot from directly above or below. This works well when photographing food or a crowd because it’s typically a different view than what people are used to. Or get on the same level as the person you’re photographing so the viewer feels they’re in on the experience.


#6. Turn the Flash Off

Whenever possible, turn off the flash! Cell phone flashes cause red eye and can serve no purpose unless you’re photographing something up close. If you find you desperately need to have a light source and are with friends, have someone shine another phone’s flashlight onto whatever you’re photographing. That way, the subject is illuminated from the side and you can shoot more naturally.


#7. Focus

Use your fingers to focus the image on your screen properly rather than just pointing and shooting. Depending on your phone, some will allow for a depth effect that changes the focus quite nicely. Bonus: If you have an iPhone, try shooting in portrait mode. It makes all the difference!


#8. Be a Photo Editor

Use the editing tools within your camera library or on social media. Adjust the brightness/contrast or sharpness to bring a pop to the image. If using a filter, try to adjust the intensity so it looks realistic. Remember, not everything needs a filter!


#9. Live on the Edge

Place your subject on the edge of the frame rather than centering it. Or fill up the frame with the subject—repetition and patterns can turn out to be interesting.


#10. Find Interesting Ways to Make a Selfie

A selfie doesn’t have to be of your face. (But those are fun, too!) Photos of your feet or hands can make for an interesting way to show a subject while putting yourself in the place, as well. Shadows can also be a creative way to take a “self-portrait” without showing your face!

I hope your vacation turns out to be a time of rest and inspiration, and that you come home with some amazing photos! Now visit our Facebook page to show off your best smartphone photo! #FLX