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One of Colorado's many landscapes. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.
One of Colorado's many landscapes. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.
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How To Capture The Most Beautiful Instagram Photos When Visiting Colorado

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 11 November 2016
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., it’s landscape varying from snow-topped mountains to empty deserts. That makes it a great place for you to fill your Instagram account with some stunning photos and watch the likes roll in. Culture Trip spoke to Kevin Lu, an iPhone photographer who runs a scintillating Instagram account, on how to make the most of your smartphone when in Colorado.

“Colorado is great because it has a lot of nature and outdoor activities. It’s got a whole spectrum of landscapes,” Lu tells Culture Trip. Here are his tips for capturing the best of Colorado during your stay.

Colorado forest. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.
Colorado forest. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.

Get up early

“Get up early, take photos before breakfast, then relax,” says Lu, who typically will get all his shooting done in the early morning when the light is best. “Try to find that soft light from sunrise to three to four hours after,” Lu suggests. He also recommends using the middle of the day to shoot anything indoors, such as food at restaurants, museums, art galleries. If you are shooting an attractive looking meal, try to get a window seat so you have a better source of light.

If you do have to shoot outdoors in the middle of the day, always consider the light first, Lu says. If there is shade, then use it. And midday shooting does boast one advantage: you can shoot straight into water and capture the blue, crystal, or emerald color.

Colorado Lakes. | Courtesy Kevin Li
Colorado Lakes. | Courtesy Kevin Li

Best places to shoot

Colorado is filled with great places to grab some extraordinary photos, and Lu says renting a car and driving in any direction out of Denver takes you to some amazing places. He also mentions Maroon Bels in Aspen, Indian Peaks Wilderness — specifically Eagle Peak — and an abandoned water mill, Crystal Mill, as excellent places to shoot.

But Lu doesn’t suggest just going to the popular spots, as you’ll only end up getting the same photos as everyone else. “Find a little home base and drive in any direction. Colorado is very big, and a lot of it is very accessible,” he advises.

Colorado offers great views. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.
Colorado offers great views. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.

Don’t go crazy on the editing

Everyone wants the perfect #nofilter shot, but it’s not always possible. So you start playing around with filters and the next minute you find yourself with a cartoon-like image, which veers far from the reality of the moment in which it was shot.

“I slightly edit my photos, but not to fix anything. You have to get it right when you hit the button,” says Lu. He also advises going through the numerous photos you take and picking out the best one to post. Storage for photos comes cheap these days using the cloud, so it’s best to take a wide array of photos and pick out the best ones later, rather than ruing not having the one you want.

Lu also says it’s wise to dial back the filter a little, even if you’re happy with the results. “I’ll adjust a photo to my liking, then when I hit that point where I like it, I take it back a little. If I like 20 percent of a filter, I take it to 15 percent.”

Colorado landscapes. | Courtesy Kevin Li.
Colorado landscapes. | Courtesy Kevin Li.

All the apps

Lu uses a variety of apps to edit and shoot his photos, depending on the circumstances of each individual image. He uses Snapseed by Google to edit his photos and uses Afterlight to add colors. To shoot his photos, Lu uses Cortex Cam for use in low light and for still shots. The app takes 100 photos in less than a second and averages them into one image. It also eliminates grain and blur. He also uses Average Camera Pro for a similar purpose.

Lu’s final piece of advice? There’s one small piece of equipment that will pay dividends when populating your Instagram with great photos. “If you don’t own a tripod, find a cheap little one and a clip for your phone. It’s a great investment for your photos.”

Colorado. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.
Colorado. | Courtesy Kevin Lu.