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Awesome smartphone photography tips

for your Scottish adventure 

The say the best camera is the one you have with you, so that surely means that our smartphones are the greatest cameras of all time. Most of us our addicted to them in one way or other - not only do we have them with us, we’re staring at them for most of our bloody lives!

Whilst smartphone cameras vary greatly in quality between models, the images that most modern smartphones can capture are amazing. With some basic understanding of the best apps available and a few little tips for taking excellent shots, let us help you take your HAGGiS tour Instagram feed to the next level.

The Best Smartphone Apps

Built in iPhone Camera app.

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll know that the built-in camera app is impressive; allowing you to touch screen auto-focus on your subject, multiple shooting modes for rectangular, square, and panoramic photos. Samsung and other android phones offer very similar functionality. You can also turn on the rule of thirds grid which we will discuss later, helping you to frame your shots.


Whilst the iPhone app. is great for quick-snapping shots, you don’t have the ability to manually change your shutter speed or ISO like you do in some other apps. VSCO is our top choice as an excellent FREE app., with additional controls over these aspects to inject more creativity into your photography.

For example, a slower shutter speed simply means that you can take a longer photo. This will give you a nice blur on the water pouring off a waterfall, for example, and can make for a more dramatic shot. In VSCO, you can alter the shutter speed, ISO and even manual focus. With a bit of practice, your photography will come to life and you’ll be hooked!

The other fantastic thing about VSCO is the built-in filters and editing options. Not only does it allow you to shoot photos on your iPhone as if you were using a manual camera, but it also gives you some stunning filters to really help you develop your own distinctive style.

Even if you shot your best photos in your phone’s built-in camera app, you can transfer them into VSCO to make use of the unique filters. It comes with a vast number for free, but you can purchase even more if you want.

We highly recommend using VSCO to filter your photos before you upload them into Instagram. VSCO will help you craft your own look and help you stand-out from the bazillion other Insta feeds out there, by avoiding the stock Instagram filters and looks.

Photography Tips

We all know Instagram is the holy grail of photography sharing apps, but there are a few tips in terms of composition that can help your smartphone photos stand out in the vast sea of selfies and foodie photos.

Try Different Formats

Most photos on Instagram are in the square format. When Instagram came out in 2010, there was resurgence in vintage, square shooting cameras; like the Holga and Diana that shot on old school film. Instagram took this idea and allowed smartphone users to skip the hassle and get that look with the click of a few buttons. Genius!

But for the last few years, Instagram has allowed different shapes other than the dreaded square to be uploaded, so why not make the most of them?

If you use the 4:3 or 16:9 formats, you can more easily use the ‘rule of thirds’ grid on your iPhone to frame your shots. Turn on the grid, and try to align the interesting part of your photo with the lines. You will find that it often creates a more interesting composition than you would otherwise.

Golden Hour

In general, this is the period of time just after sunrise or just before sunset, where the sun turns more red and makes more dramatic shadows: everything just looks that wee bit more magical. Take your photos during these times of day and we guarantee that they will look stunning. Unless it’s pissing down with rain, but that hardly ever happens in Scotland anyway!

Add Depth

Rather than focusing in closely on a subject, you can create interest by having your subject in the foreground and something else in the distance (maybe some glorious Scottish mountains for example). Every layer of depth to your photo will make it more interesting to look at.

There is also a new “Portrait mode” available in some smartphone models that blurs out the background creating a greater ‘depth of field’. This draws attention to your subject in the foreground and gives a more cinematic look. Awesome for catching that fresh hangover face after you’ve dipped it straight in a Scottish river.

Be Creative

They say know the rules before you break them - but at HAGGiS we prefer just going for it and learning from our mistakes (sometimes). All the tips in this article are there to be broken.

Photos are reminders of the best times of our lives, and you’re not going to take a great photo sitting in front of your computer reading this. So our best piece of advice is to get out there and experience the stunning landscapes of Scotland for yourself.

Oh, and once you’ve got the perfect shot, put your phone away, and soak up the epic scenery.