cherry blossom

How to Take the Best Photos of Cherry Blossoms on a Smartphone

It’s never too late to learn more about how you can capture the best photos of cherry blossoms on a smartphone. Before you know it, spring will appear in cities such as Tokyo, Washington or Bonn, and if you’re considering a visit during this time, you’ll want to be prepared with a few photography tips and tricks.

Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your smartphone and take that perfect cherry blossom photo.

Photo by Giuseppe Murabito on Unsplash

1. Timing is everything (plan ahead to avoid the crowds)

Do your research first. Depending on the destination and climate, weather forecast will vary from one location to another. Often, you can view cherry blossoms throughout April, however, the flowering process can start anytime from March.

Cherry blossoms are known for attracting large numbers of visitors every year, meaning cities may become crowded and some parks will become difficult to walk through. This situation is not always ideal for someone who enjoys quiet walks, or for photographers looking to capture a peaceful shot.

To avoid the crowds, we suggest waking up early and heading to a nearby cherry blossom site just in time for the sunrise. You’ll have the entire park to yourself and can enjoy the benefits of warm, morning light to enhance your photos.

2. Light matters (sunrise and sunset are ideal) 

Every photographer knows there are just two times in the day when you can capture the best light: at sunrise or sunset. If you manage to snap a picture during this timeframe, you’ll be on your way to creating a masterpiece.

The soft light makes the pastel colours of the blooms stand out. Avoid distractions and frame the shot with a quiet background, such as a clear blue sky. Last but not least, avoid using any filters as they will only take away the magic of those natural pink hues.

cherry blossom
Photo by Nathan Lindahl on Unsplash

A smartphone will capture a scene in a crisp way. Ensuring everything in the frame is sharp. We want to make it more interesting by adding a nice soft background blur. Keep your eyes out for a pretty cherry bud or blossom and bring your smartphone really close and tap to focus. This will ensure you that the subject is sharp while the background will get a enticing, soft blur. It will get more interesting if you position the subject slightly out of the center. Bonus points if you can have a homogeneous pinkish backdrop. – Karin & Coen, Land Cruising Adventure

3. Take a step closer

When attempting to snap the best photos of cherry blossoms with a smartphone, it’s crucial to get up close and personal. Although the technology is continuously being improved, smartphone cameras still have their limitations.

The good news is that the beauty of cherry blossoms beg for close-ups, otherwise how else would you see those incredible blooms? For an even better effect, consider purchasing a portable macro lens for your phone. Of course, you can still capture photos from a distance, however, when it comes to cherry blossoms – it’s all about the detail.

4. Download a high-quality photography app

As smartphone cameras do not provide the same advanced features as a professional camera, the Google Store and App Store feature plenty of applications that can help your mobile device work at its best.

Among many features, specific photography apps can help enhance your focus, adjust the exposure and make your photos look sharp and neat. You can find Camera+ on iTunes and Vignette on Google Play.

5. Experiment with angles

One of the advantages of relying on your smartphone camera (and not carrying a DSLR camera with you) is efficiency. If the cherry blossom locations are packed, your smartphone camera will come in handy. Let your creativity run free and stay away from the typical photos – you know, the ones taken at eye-level with the focused object standing right in the middle.

6. Acknowledge your highlights & shadows

If you’ve missed out on the golden hours of the morning and you find yourself without the perfect shot by lunch, there’s a couple of things you should know.

Standing in direct sunlight will wash out the colours in your composition, however standing in shadow won’t help enhance your images either. So, the best thing you can do, aside from waiting for that perfect time of the day, is to activate the HDR feature on your smartphone. For those who are unfamiliar with this terminology, HDR refers to the process of adding dynamic range to each photograph. So, instead of capturing one single image, HDR blends three photos at a time, taken at different exposures to create one balanced photo.

But what happens if it’s cloudy outside? For a photographer, a cloudy day can turn into a great opportunity to capture the perfect shot. Clouds reduce the intensity of the sunlight, which means when the light touches the earth it will be much softer and thus creates an ideal environment for beautiful shots.

cherry blossom in japan
Photo by Antonina Bukowska on Unsplash

The light is the most important factor when taking photos. With a smartphone, exposure is probably the hardest thing to nail in different lighting conditions. For flowers and portraits, it’s easiest when you’re shooting on an overcast day and the light is even. When it’s sunny, you’ll have to pay attention to the shadows and how the light is hitting your subject a lot more than when it’s overcast. You can also always bring around a white/light colored scarf as a diffuser (kind of like a makeshift cloud) if you want to take some closer up cherry blossom shots. You can also use it to reflect back light on your subject. – Jacob & Esther, Local Adventurer

7. Relax and enjoy the moment

A common mistake people tend to make is to keep their faces buried in their smartphones. Continuously shooting, editing on the spot, then shooting again, followed by more editing won’t get you far. Take a breath. Look around and absorb the delicate hues and surroundings. When you take a step back you might notice details you were initially missing out on.

A smartphone can take some great pictures with the right lighting and choice of subject, try extreme close ups or shots from further away so you can see the scale of cherry blossom trees. But really the most important thing is not to be caught up in taking the perfect picture and remember to enjoy the moment because you’ll remember that more than any picture you take, even with a great camera set up. – Jaclynn, The Occasional Traveller

Antonia is a passionate writer and an avid reader. Eat well, travel often - are some of the words she lives by. When she's not writing or reading, she loves getting out in nature, hiking or losing herself in unknown cities.

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