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How To Take Your Travel Photos To The Next Level

An Instagram-famous photographer reveals the secrets to taking extraordinary pictures on your phone.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed / Cole Rise

Travel photographer Cole Rise is Instagram famous. As in, he created Rise, the filter, and has over 840,000 followers.

Since crafting Instagram's first photo treatments, Cole has promoted the gospel of the "unedited edited" look via his gorgeous pictures on Instagram and founded a mobile and desktop photo app of subtle filters called Litely.

Needless to say, this guy knows his stuff. Cole sat down with BuzzFeed Life to discuss the secrets of subtle editing and how to get DSLR-worthy photos from your phone.

1. Protip #1: Brighten shadows and tone down highlights for better balance.

Cole Rise

Most photo editing apps include tools to adjust highlights and shadows. Take advantage of them!

To enhance this landscape photo, Cole balanced the exposure by brightening the shadows and darkening the highlights. He also added a touch of the Winsy filter from the Litely app to bring out the image's warm hues. The result is a brighter, more even-toned photo. Take the slider for a spin to see the before and after.

Cole Rise

Most photo editing apps include tools to adjust highlights and shadows. Take advantage of them!

To enhance this landscape photo, Cole balanced the exposure by brightening the shadows and darkening the highlights. He also added a touch of the Winsy filter from the Litely app to bring out the image's warm hues. The result is a brighter, more even-toned photo. Take the slider for a spin to see the before and after.

Cole Rise

Most photo editing apps include tools to adjust highlights and shadows. Take advantage of them!

To enhance this landscape photo, Cole balanced the exposure by brightening the shadows and darkening the highlights. He also added a touch of the Winsy filter from the Litely app to bring out the image's warm hues. The result is a brighter, more even-toned photo. Take the slider for a spin to see the before and after.

2. Protip #2: Add vignetting and amp up shadows to increase brightness.

Cole Rise

When in doubt, add a hint of vignette. Vignettes, which are basically Cole's favorite thing, add a subtle dark border around your photo, brightening the middle of the image. "It makes the balloons pop," he said of this photo, taken in Napa Valley, California. Because the original image is dark, he increased the vibrance and added a little sharpness to distinguish the shapes of the balloons and landscape, without making the photo look edited. Cole then added Litely's Lunar Faded filter.

Cole Rise

When in doubt, add a hint of vignette. Vignettes, which are basically Cole's favorite thing, add a subtle dark border around your photo, brightening the middle of the image. "It makes the balloons pop," he said of this photo, taken in Napa Valley, California. Because the original image is dark, he increased the vibrance and added a little sharpness to distinguish the shapes of the balloons and landscape, without making the photo look edited. Cole then added Litely's Lunar Faded filter.

Cole Rise

When in doubt, add a hint of vignette. Vignettes, which are basically Cole's favorite thing, add a subtle dark border around your photo, brightening the middle of the image. "It makes the balloons pop," he said of this photo, taken in Napa Valley, California. Because the original image is dark, he increased the vibrance and added a little sharpness to distinguish the shapes of the balloons and landscape, without making the photo look edited. Cole then added Litely's Lunar Faded filter.

3. Protip #3: Edit the photo, then go back and reduce your adjustments by 50%.

Cole Rise / Via http://

This. is. key.

The trick to maintaining the integrity of your photo is to not filter and edit them too heavily. Edit your image as normal, then dial back everything to 50%. On Instagram you have the ability to edit your filter strength. Once you select a filter, tap it again to reduce its intensity.

This is a rule Cole has always stuck to. It's also why he wanted to create his own app. "I wanted filters that were applied at 100% and still looked great," he said.

Another piece of advice: "Stay away from clarity! Also known as Lux in Instagram." Clarity and Lux are intended to "fix" underexposure and lack of contrast. But the tools often make images look Photoshopped.

Cole Rise / Via http://

This. is. key.

The trick to maintaining the integrity of your photo is to not filter and edit them too heavily. Edit your image as normal, then dial back everything to 50%. On Instagram you have the ability to edit your filter strength. Once you select a filter, tap it again to reduce its intensity.

This is a rule Cole has always stuck to. It's also why he wanted to create his own app. "I wanted filters that were applied at 100% and still looked great," he said.

Another piece of advice: "Stay away from clarity! Also known as Lux in Instagram." Clarity and Lux are intended to "fix" underexposure and lack of contrast. But the tools often make images look Photoshopped.

Cole Rise / Via http://

This. is. key.

The trick to maintaining the integrity of your photo is to not filter and edit them too heavily. Edit your image as normal, then dial back everything to 50%. On Instagram you have the ability to edit your filter strength. Once you select a filter, tap it again to reduce its intensity.

This is a rule Cole has always stuck to. It's also why he wanted to create his own app. "I wanted filters that were applied at 100% and still looked great," he said.

Another piece of advice: "Stay away from clarity! Also known as Lux in Instagram." Clarity and Lux are intended to "fix" underexposure and lack of contrast. But the tools often make images look Photoshopped.

4. Use humans whenever you can! Landscapes are better with people in them.

5. People can also help create a sense of scale.

6. Try shooting in "burst mode" out of a car window.

7. Setting your phone on the roof of your car can add some visual interest.

Cole Rise

If there are cool cloud formations above, the reflections from your car's roof can add a lot to your photography.

8. Bringing your phone right to the water's edge can also create cool reflective effects.

9. When shooting for Instagram, shoot in portrait mode — not the preset square.

10. Otherwise, shoot in landscape so you can press the shutter with the volume button.

Cole Rise

Did you know that, by default, you can just open the camera app on your iPhone and press the volume button to take a photo? The same is true of some Android phones, like Samsung. Using the volume key usually means a more stable shot, because you have a good grip on your phone.

11. Get down low for a more interesting foreground.

12. Be invisible, blend in, and don't carry a backpack.

13. Bad weather = great photo weather.

Cole Rise

Whatever you do, Rise urged, "don't leave the beach when it rains." As this image proves, rain and hail are actually great conditions for a good photo! If it's raining or snowing at night, you can leave your flash on and use Slow Shutter Cam to create streaks.

Overcast days can also mean interesting cloud patterns in the sky, so don't stay indoors if the weather isn't stellar.

14. Get a waterproof case and GET INSURANCE.

15. Quickly capture fleeting moments by knowing your phone's camera shortcuts.

Cole Rise

The plane flying shockingly close overhead was taken on an iPhone. Cole swiped up from the lockscreen to quickly capture the aircraft as it flew past. Make sure you're aware of your phone's camera shortcuts before you go!

For the Moto X, you can enable a twisting hand motion to open your phone's camera in Settings. For Samsung phones, you'll find "Camera Quick Access" in Settings.

16. The most important thing to do is to "go further than anyone else."

Don't forget to check out Bring Me for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed

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