Guest Post: Moira Wright on Taking Landscape Photos with your Phone Camera

58865_10200415738529998_1781041494_n[1]We are thrilled to welcome Moira Wright to the blog today.  Moira is the Vice President of Public Relations at Holt Renfrew, and the creator of some of the most beautiful landscape photos Instagram has to offer.  She is also family, and when I asked her to share her secret for her amazing photos at a family gathering a few years ago, she said to me, as she says below, with her characteristic grace and humility, that she just uses her phone.  It was that exchange that inspired me to explore the camera function on my own phone, and it is to Moira that I owe the joy that comes from capturing my still lifes.  Armed with her tips below, I’m now ready to try my hand at some landscapes, too.



What I appreciate about Instagram is that it really just illuminates inspiration. Yes, it can be a distracting and sometimes vacuous pursuit, and I am often amused by how our “fake Instagram life” may contrast with our real one. At times I am tempted to post images of the daily domestic mess or less harmonious moments to more authentically represent reality, however, given my role in public relations representing a retail brand, I keep my profile open and my posts are filtered to ensure they are in keeping with my public self. I also find it helpful in moments of feeling overwhelmed to review the peaceful and aesthetically pleasing moments to remind myself of the good times – and anticipate those to come!

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Instagram or any other photo gallery is a reflection of your personal lens – posts reflect what you see and what you are drawn to, and what you spend your time pursuing.

I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, stayed in the land of living skies until the age of about 30. I am naturally drawn to – and crave – open spaces and landscapes.  I will always run for the hills on the weekend whenever I have a chance, as an antidote to long weeks spent in a windowless office, and a busy and cluttered home shared with 3 boys in a house we jokingly refer to as “the tube” for its row house effect. For me, the ideal weekend involves a family hike along the Bruce Trail, or if I am lucky enough to be near water, on a kayak in Georgian Bay or in Nova Scotia. Snow or rain, sun or not, I crave a vista of nature. In an overscheduled world, I love the family bonding moments we enjoy in nature, discovering interesting animals, birds, flora or fauna. I also appreciate time alone in the woods, fields or on calm water.

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My photo methods are quite simple – all photos are taken with my iPhone 5. Essentially the shot is what I see. The light is of course best in the evening or early morning, and an early mist is also lovely. I will sometimes play with the light settings – just by tapping on different parts of the screen to adjust the light before taking the shot. I do this particularly with sunset shots. When posting to Instagram, I rarely filter or amend the photo – perhaps just brightening an image a little if needed, or playing with the colour saturation a little – always within the Instagram photo editing menu.  The square format of Instagram is sometimes a challenge with landscape, so I do have an additional app called SquareReady that I sometimes use to adjust the image if I want to keep the full latitude visual.

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As my phone battery often has limited life with the camera open, my Mophie is key for extended battery life on a long walk. And having the right apparel for the weather is key – I hike on the most cold days of winter, and love a walk in the rain.  Here are a few posts, with some accompanying notes.

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This was in the rain! The boys were not originally happy to be wet, but then became enthralled with the discovery of caterpillars and a grosbeak. I may have brightened the image a little before posting.


This is a view from the Bruce Trail near Hockley Valley Resort, at sunset. Generally with sunset I may adjust the light settings to focus them off centre (in this case, closer to the left, nearer the setting sun) by tapping on the screen. In this case, I wanted to further illuminate the landscape, which had the trade-off effect of limiting the depth of colour in the sky. You can get very different images of the same moment.

I wanted to keep the full length of the landscape, so I reshaped the image within the app SquareReady before posting in Instagram. It’s very seamless, you simply open the app, go to your photo library, and then click through to open it within Instagram.

Sometimes I might enhance the colour just a little with the saturation setting from the Instagram photo editing menu. (see below as well)