Ten Tips for Taking Great iPhone Photos

iPhone cameras are top-notch, they might get upgraded & refined every year, however, the consistency & quality of the iPhone images has been a key feature since iPhone 4.

Photography is an art & as such it is very subjective, one great photo on an iPhone might be better on a Samsung, as we all have different eyes & different tastes.

With these top tips, you will be able to improve the quality & consistency of the images.

Some of the tips utilise 3rd Party Apps from the AppStore, others are quick tips & tricks & a little bit of science.

Apple has a great website dedicated on how to do all the fancy clever photos but this is about getting the standard photos of your children, a sunset, & the dog done right.

1. Set your Settings

So first things first you need to make sure the product you are going to produce is the best possible output.

Unfortunately, iPhone Settings for cameras are not within the camera app itself (Currently) so off we pop to the settings & camera to make sure everything is set up Right.

Preserve Settings

A way to keep your photos consistent, every time you launch the camera app it will keep these settings the same if you turn them on. So if you don’t like Live Photos turn it on, if you always want to make Square photos or whatever the last filter you had applied turn those on.

Grid

Turn this on, we will explain more later.

Scan QR Codes

A lovely little feature that if you use your iPhone camera & hover it over a QR code a little pop up will appear at the top with the link the QR code hides behind it.

Formats

Stick with High Efficiency as it will produce the best output of photography vs size of the file. Most Compatible will produce a larger size image but the quality is very similar.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Smart HDR & Keep normal photo will give you the best of both worlds in case you don’t prefer the HDR quality.

2: Shortcuts & Tricks

We’ve all done it, been walking down the street & seen the best photo opportunity & so we reach into our pocket, pull out our iPhone, use FaceID or TouchID, find the camera & open it, place it up to where the opportunity was & it is gone….

Well, obviously Tim Cook wasn’t impressed with his efforts here so iPhones now have a nice shortcut on the Lock Screen. Press the camera button & you are in it.

Also because the iPhone is nice & thin when you are pressing the shutter button to take that photo you might find that it knocks your phone & makes your eventual photo blur.

So again Apple made a nice little shortcut when you are taking a photo if you press the volume button it will take the photo so it shouldn’t wobble & you’ll get a nice crisp photo.

3. Lock your Focus, adjust your exposure

If you are taking Macro photography or want to override what your iPhone wants to Focus or expose then it can be incredibly useful to lock your focus point on your required subject.

You can do this by tapping and holding on the subject in question until you see the yellow AE/AF Lock alert. This means that the automatic exposure metering and automatic focus metering have been locked on your subject; to remove the lock, just tap anywhere else on the frame.

You can take this one step further.

If an image is too blown out or underexposed for your liking, you can fix it before snapping the picture by adjusting the yellow exposure slider next to the focus square.

Just tap once on the focus square and exposure slider, then use the sun icon to increase your exposure by sliding upward, or decrease exposure by sliding downward.

4. Moving Target = Burst Mode

Chasing around the dog round a field? Going on a rollercoaster? Attempting taking some photos of your favourite football team playing? Whatever the case, burst mode might be just the option you’re looking for to capture the best images. Apple included burst mode originally for snapping clear pictures of moving subjects, but I find it works well when your camera is moving, too — by snapping images in quick succession, you’re more likely to get a clear shot and you have more options to choose from.

To activate it you simply hold down the shutter button & it will burst photos, to activate burst mode on iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11Pro Max, swipe left on the shutter button and hold to shoot in burst mode. Just like before, you’ll see the number of photos taken.

You can then chose which ones you save in the photos app by pressing select & choosing your favourite.

5. Apple Watch Remote

If you’ve got an Apple Watch, remember that you can use it to see what your iPhone’s camera is seeing – useful in surprising situations, such as when checking the tops of cupboards for lost items or contorting yourself down the back of the TV trying to take a shot of its serial number – and for triggering a shot. The handy Camera app preinstalled on the Apple Watch enables you to use the watch as a remote shutter trigger for your iPhone camera.

Open the Camera app on your Apple Watch and it will automatically open the Camera app on the paired iPhone. Prop up the iPhone in a nice vantage point while checking the shot is right on your Apple Watch.

When you’re happy, either tap the white circle on the watch screen to take the photo or hit the ‘3s’ button to set a three-second delay. The latter is useful when you want to take – and be in – a group family photo and not be looking down at your watch at the moment the shutter goes off.

6. The rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a compositional rule that most photographers learn and it’s not without a reason; it’s relatively easy to understand and it can instantly make your photography more visually pleasing.

Essentially you need to envision your space as 9 equal parts, where your principle picture or spotlight is put on the convergences of a vertical and flat line. Explaining it is complicated, but showing it is a lot easier. Here is where using the grid function, Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid is essential. That way, you can arrange your shot legitimately. On the other hand, there’s a snazzier reason… In photography, there’s a hypothesis that photos look better when your subject is 33% of the route in from either the right or the left.

iMore.com created this visually stunning guide on the subject & its well worth additional reading for you to understand the pros & cons of this.

7. Night Mode / Neural Camera

One thing that the iPhone & Smartphone cameras, in general, haven’t been great with historically is Low Light & Nighttime photography.

It is due to the size of the lens, ultimately if there is less light coming into an already smaller lens you’re going to end up with a much darker less focused photo.

However this has all started to change, the iPhone 11 & Pro come with Night Mode, a setting that gives much better photos in Night & Low Light Settings.

How it Works

Night Mode works by using sensor, processor, and software to gather as much information as possible from a dark scene. It starts with the new sensor in the iPhone 11’s default camera—what Apple calls the “wide” camera. On the iPhone 11, this 12-megapixel sensor comes with “100% focus pixels”—sub-pixel portions of the sensor that are used to detect data about the light in the scene rather than capture an image. The focus pixels help provide data that is vital in analysing the small amounts of light coming into the camera

Apple’s software keeps the shutter on the wide camera open longer, as much as several seconds, depending on how much light it detects in the scene. Of course, this opens shots up to blur, which is why the camera app tells you to hold your shot as still as possible and is also using the iPhone’s motion sensors to judge how shaky your hold is on the camera.

Over those seconds, the camera captures multiple images while using optical image stabilization to keep things as steady as possible. Then Apple’s software compares all the images shot, picks out the portions of images that are sharp, and builds a single image, which it then processes to bring out colours and remove noise.

That’s a lot—but all you have to do is tap the shutter and hold your phone still until the image is captured. The iPhone 11 does the rest.

What to do if you don’t have an iPhone 11?

Well, there’s an App for that. Neural Camera works in the same way but is available on all iPhones.

Simply put it takes multiple photographs of the same scene whilst its processing & stitches them together.

It also works well in low light or day time photos to bring out more focus on the colours.

Hopefully, you can see by the images below the comparison between the default camera (Top Image) & Neural camera (Bottom Image)

It is available from the App Store priced £4.99 which is much cheaper than an iPhone 11 Pro Max

8. Depth of Field / Focos

Another stand out feature of iPhones these days is “Portrait Mode” or  Depth of field

Depth of field has been around on iPhones since the iPhone 7 Plus however, it was only available to the Plus size models until the X & XR.

With iOS 13 you can edit a lot more of your Portrait photos by fine-tuning the Apperture & changing the lighting setting.

However what happens if you have an iPhone 8 & want to do Portrait Photos.

Well…theres another app for that. Focos.

Focos allows any photo to have a depth of field so you don’t need your extra lens.

It even will allow you to edit the photos you took with portrait mode & adjust where the focus point is.

It is available from the App Store for Free with in-app purchases.

9. Manual Controls / Halide

One thing that the folk at Cupertino haven’t yet opened up on the default camera is Manual controls, yes you can adjust the focus & exposure slightly as discussed in point 3.

Step in Halide.

Halide offers up full manual controls for shutter speed, ISO, and white balance, along with a live histogram for perfecting exposure. The swipe-based interface is easy to use, and you can capture photos in RAW, JPG, TIFF, or HEIC formats.

There are depth controls for newer iPhones, manual and autofocus tools, and for & a nifty lens switcher for the iPhone 11 Pro, there’s a Depth Capture feature that works with pets, food, and other items, unlike the native Depth Control feature. Halide just added a new colour histogram, which is a nifty option that lets you make sure you have the right exposure to preserve colour detail and make the colours pop.

Halide is available from the App Store priced at £5.99

10. Editing / PS Express

A sure-fire way to cover up any multitude of photographic sins is by editing the result.

You can do this relatively well by editing the manual controls after the shot within the default photo app.

But you can take this to the next level with some great Apps out there. Our Favourite is Photoshop Express: PhotoEditor. All the power of Photoshop within a Mobile phone.

It comes with a very intuitive UI & allows you to both edit & create a collage as you load the app.

You can add filters to your photos read for the ‘gram, overlays such as light leaks & bokeh or even stickers, icons & text.

You can also remove via cropping, blemish removal red eye & pet eye adjustments.

You can also fine-tune every last detail down, such as exposure, white control sharpness & colour noise.

It is very good just for editing on the go or if you happen to be a Photoshop master you can continue your edits within the desktop program.

PS Express is available for free within the App Store.

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