Blog from Abroad: Capture Memories with Great Photos | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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Blog from Abroad: Capture Memories with Great Photos

Hi everyone! Brandon here, one of your Tech Ambassadors, to give you more tips I’ve learned while studying in Spain. I have had so many amazing experiences in Barcelona this term, and I’m recording each one! Whether you are traveling someplace new or living your best life in the ‘Burgh, I cannot stress enough the importance of capturing the moment. (Especially for you seniors getting ready to graduate and move onto new adventures!) Photography has always been an interest of mine, and it’s only grown now that I’m traveling in Europe. Here are my best budget-friendly tips for taking the best photos.

Phenomenal Phone Photos

I’m a dedicated iPhone user, so I’m biased, but smartphones today have cameras that can produce amazing images when done correctly. To capture the best photos, take the time to explore what types of images and camera angles best fit your personal style. See how each photo setting impacts the image. Then, learn how to apply filters and make edits to make the colors pop.

To really take your pictures to the next level, turn to Adobe Lightroom to edit and process your photos. Lightroom is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud license (available for free to students through Pitt IT). Not only does Lightroom have a great Windows and Mac desktop app, it also has a mobile version that is even better in some ways! With Lightroom Mobile, you can make the same edits on your phone as you would on a desktop, allowing for quick, professional adjustments on the go. It also has a built-in camera feature, with the ability to take RAW photos, which allows for greater flexibility in post-processing. RAW files contain all the data captured by the camera's sensor, unaltered and uncompressed, so you can adjust exposure, white balance, and other settings after the fact without loss of quality. This offers much more creative control compared to JPEG or other compressed formats. Also, when you activate your Adobe license with your Pitt login, you get 100 gigabytes of online storage, which allows you to save that vital space on your phone while backing up all your photos.

Go Pro with Dedicated Equipment

When you’re in Pittsburgh, you can rent media equipment from Hillman Library, including professional audio, video, and photo gear to satisfy any creative need. (Unfortunately, you can’t take it overseas with you!) In the past, I have used the 4K mirrorless cameras to take photos for school projects and personal use. The availability of such high-quality equipment on campus has significantly enhanced my photography skills. This resource is especially valuable for students looking to push their creative boundaries without the financial burden of purchasing or renting expensive equipment.

If you want a solution you can take anywhere, consider getting a small digital point-and-shoot camera. These are becoming much more popular because they have become relatively inexpensive and they take stunning photographs with a sharp effect that you just can’t get with a phone camera. Also, their small size makes them ideal for impromptu photography adventures, easily slipping into a pocket or bag. Unlike bulkier DSLR cameras, point-and-shoots offer a blend of convenience and quality. With features like optical zoom, manual controls, and sometimes even RAW shooting capabilities, they bridge the gap between smartphones and professional equipment, making them a fantastic choice for those looking to elevate their photography game without carrying heavy gear. You can find these cameras online on sites like Amazon and eBay or even in your local flea market.

Go With Actual Film for Retro Charm

If you want a legitimate “retro” effect — rather than emulating it with filters and edits — get a restored film or disposable camera. I’ve seen amazing posts on my Instagram feed of my friends documenting their travels with these cameras. Using film to take photos requires a more thoughtful approach, as you're limited by the number of exposures on a roll. This limitation often leads to more intentional framing and composition, making each shot feel special. Using an old-school method can offer a refreshing break from the instant gratification of digital shots, encouraging a deeper connection with your subjects and surroundings.

Have Camera, Will Travel

Incorporating the art of photography into your travels doesn't have to break the bank or require extensive expertise. From using the power of your smartphone camera and utilizing resources like Adobe Lightroom, to exploring the unique qualities of point-and-shoot cameras and the nostalgic charm of film photography, there are countless ways to capture your adventures. Each method offers its own set of advantages, encouraging creativity and allowing you to document your journey in a way that resonates with your personal style.

If you are a novice at taking great pictures or aren’t sure how to use Lightroom, check out LinkedIn Learning. There are many great courses to help you get started. Just search for topics like photography, mobile photography, photo editing, or Lightroom Mobile. In just a couple hours, you’ll be on your way to taking photos like the pros!

So, pack your bags, charge your devices, and get ready to create lasting memories that you'll cherish long after your travels have ended. Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you, and with a bit of imagination and resourcefulness, you can turn any moment into a masterpiece.

Safe travels and happy shooting!

-- By Brandon Bowman, Pitt IT Tech Ambassador Abroad