12 tips for better iPhone photographs

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, iPhoneography, photography
Credit: Elizabeth Budd

Making better images from the moments that matter

Some of these are obvious, others less so, but no matter how advanced an iPhone user you have become, you may capture better images of the things that matter to you using one or more of these iPhone photography tips.

Tap to focus

You’d be surprised how many iPhone users aren’t aware of this, but you can tap the camera screen to adjust the focus. When you tap the screen the camera doesn't just focus on the object, it also applies exposure to that area of the photo so your photos should look much better. Once you have this more or less right you can fine tune brightness and exposure by scrolling your finger up and down on the screen – it’s just a shame you can’t get Siri to control those settings for you enabling you to focus on keeping the camera steady.

Use the Grid

Want a great landscape photo? Turn on the grid feature (Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid) and remember that images can look better if the horizon is in the upper or lower area of the screen (the classic rule of thirds). This also states that images will appear much better when you place the main elements off-center within the frame.

Vertical panoramas

You can use the ‘Pano’ setting to take vertical panoramic shots, all you got to do is open the Camera app with your iPhone held vertically and rotate it into horizontal orientation. Now you can take a vertical image – just keep the arrow matched up to the line (and tap the arrow area to reverse its direction).

Don’t Done

You don’t need to tap the “Done” button to stop taking a panoramic shot – just move your phone in the opposite direction to that used to create the image. This may help prevent you accidentally wobbling the camera as you reach for the button.

Flash smarter

It may seem anti-intuitive, but when it’s sunny the brightness can create unwanted shadows on what you want to photograph: switch on your flash to help drive unwanted shadows back for a hopefully better image.

AE/AF Lock (auto exposure/auto focus lock)

Another tool, AE/AF Lock is enabled by tapping the display on the spot you want to focus on, then holding your finger down on the screen until the box bounces twice. Now the camera will retain those settings until you switch it off.

High Dynamic Range

iPhone High Dynamic Range (HDR) is your best friend when trying to capture dramatic sunrises, sunsets or other intensely colored subjects. HDR takes numerous images at various exposure settings and then darns these together for a brilliant image. By default Camera app catches HDR shots for you, but you can override this by taping HDR at the top of the screen.

Burst mode

Keep your finger on the trigger and the camera will capture multiple images (10/second) in burst mode. The smartphone will automatically recommend the best image based on various criteria, but you can choose whichever of the resultant images you prefer.

Steadier shots

You can use the volume buttons on your iPhone, your Apple Watch or your Apple headphones to capture an image – this is particularly useful when shooting at awkward angles as doing so may reduce camera shake.

Search

Tap the magnifying glass icon and your can search all of you photos by date, time, location or album name. You can also ask Siri to search through those criteria.

Live photos

Only available to iPhone 6S, Live Photos captures a small fragment of the movement and sound taking place at the time you captured the image, like a short video clip. It’s a lovely feature but not always useful, to switch it off just tap the yellow circle icon at the top of the screen, tap it again when you want to restart the feature.

Apps

Apple’s Photos app is OK but for even better results you should explore third party iOS apps for photography, including Pixelmator or Afterlight.

I do hope this short collection does help you get more from photography on your iPhone.

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