Apple’s recent ‘One Night on iPhone 7’ campaign stressed the value of taking photographs on iPhone, it’s nice to see what the pros can achieve, but how can the rest of us take better photos?
Don’t ignore the obvious
Some things are obvious: Clean your camera lens(es) with a soft, lint-free, lens cloth; Don’t take photos toward the sun; keep your thumb out of the frame…
The fastest way to get to the Camera app: Wake up your iPhone and swipe left across the lock screen.
High Dynamic Range
You should enable High Dynamic Range (HDR) when you are trying to capture the most dramatically colored shots (think sunrises and sunsets). HDR takes multiple images at a range of exposure settings and then combines these to create the best picture. You can set HDR to Auto, On, or Off, but do keep an eye on how much space your Photos are taking on your iPhone to prune them occasionally.
You get better images if you use Focus mode – just tap on the object in the frame you want the camera to focus on. The area of focus is denoted by a yellow box with a sun icon beside it. Tap the sun icon and you can adjust exposure by scrolling your finger up and down the screen. The camera will also apply some exposure to that part of the image, which should also improve it.
The yellow box has another tool – tap the image to make it appear, get the exposure settings you want, and then tap and hold the display until the box bounces and the camera app will maintain those exposure/focus settings until you quit the app. That’s great for capturing scenes in which you anticipate movement while you take the shot, street scenes for example.
Siri is the quickest way to take a selfie. Waggle your camera before your face, tap the Home button (or say “Hey Siri” if that is enabled) and say “Take a selfie”. The Camera app launches to the FaceTime camera and you can tap to take your picture.
Use the buttons
Camera shake is a problem when you take snaps with an iPhone. The easiest solution is to hold the smartphone with both hands and elbows close at your sides, and take the picture by tapping the volume controls.
Use the Timer
If you’re not using the feature to take a staged shot, Timer can also help you avoid camera shake. Compose your image, set the exposure to the appropriate settings and tap the Time icon. Choose 3s (three seconds) and you’ll have just enough time to steady your hands after you use the volume or on-screen shutter button to take your shot.
You can use your wired Apple earbuds to take a picture. To do so just single click the volume button while the Camera app is open and take the snap.
You can also use your Watch as a remote shutter – really useful when taking a staged tripod shot.
Get the Grid
Grid helps you get the best possible image composition from what you see by placing an overlay of grid squares on your display, which helps you apply the classic tips of great landscape photography.
These include techniques such as positioning an upright subject with one of the vertical grid lines or ensuring eyes are placed in the upper points of your composition.
You enable Grids in Camera Settings (Settings>Photos & Camera>Grid). Another Setting you may want to change while you are here is ‘Preserve Settings’. Enable this if you want your Camera app to always open in the last camera mode it was used in (eg. Pano, Square, Portrait Mode), rather than the default Photos mode.
3 Pano tips the world forgot
Pano mode is cool, but people forget these three things:
- Pano up: You can take panoramic shots of tall buildings. Just set the Camera to Pano mode and then rotate your iPhone to horizontal. Now you can pano up.
- Reverse: Want to take a Pano in the reverse direction? Just tap the arrow area to reverse the direction of the arrow.
- Happy finish: Tired of making your iPhone shake after capturing the perfect panoramic shot when you tap ‘Done’? Just move your iPhone in the opposite direction to that taken while grabbing the pano shot and it will stop image capture.
Want to photograph a moving target? Hold down the shutter icon, or volume button, and the camera will take ten images each second in burst mode. You’ll see a number on the display that tells you how many pictures you’ve taken. When you finish you can review these images to select the best and bin the rest. (Your iPhone will recommend what it thinks are the best images but you can override it.)
If you’re fortunate enough to use an iPhone 7 Plus then you should already know about Portrait Mode. This exploits the dual lens system on the smartphone to emulate a 56mm telephoto lens, focusing on the subject and blurring out the background (‘bokeh’ effect). To use the feature just scroll to Portrait in the mode setting, and (making sure you have good light) stand up to three meters away from your subject. You may need to follow a range of on-screen prompts before the words “Depth Effect” appear and you can take the shot.
Want better images? Get closer to the subject – you’re better off getting a lens kit for your iPhone than using the built-in digital zoom if you want to get the best possible detail in your shot.
I do hope these suggestions help you take better images on your iPhone.
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