9 tips for great iPhone photography

iPhone is not the most capable camera in the world, but it is the best camera in the world as it is always with you. For many, iPhone is replacing the compact camera and is the only camera for them. In proper hands, photos from iPhone can be stunningly great. Here are 9 quick tips to get you started into the world of iPhone photography.

1. Learn to quick launch Camera app

The Camera app can be accessed from the lock screen by swiping up from the camera icon at right bottom corner. It is also available from the Control Center at the bottom right corner.

Tips for great iPhone photography quick access control center

It pays to learn to be able to activate Camera app quickly. This is to ensure you do not miss out any opportunity shots.

2. Hold your iPhone steady

As with any camera, hold your camera steady while taking a shot to reduce blurry pictures. Blurry photo will appear sharp when view on the small screen of iPhone, but all the defects are apparent when looking at it on your desktop screen or HDTV.

Hold the phone with both hands to keep your iPhone steady. And use the Volume Up button as camera shuttle. The idea here is to avoid or reduce relying on tapping on the on-screen shutter button.

For truly steady shots, mount your iPhone into a tripods and use the volume up button of the earphone as remote shuttle.

iOS 7 comes with auto image stabilization feature to reduce motion blur and hand shakiness. This aids to reduce blurry shots but is no replacement for steady hands.

3. Do not use zoom

Optical zoom is achieved by magnifying image through camera lens. This magnification via optical physic keeps the image distortion free. This is in contrast to digital zoom, which enlarges the pixel of captured image to result in loss of picture detail. 

iOS device does not come with an optical zoom. Thus it is not advisable to use the zoom feature in iPhone or iPad. 

Instead of zooming, use your feet and move closer to your subject.

4. Have ample light

The latest iPhone 5/5s is capable of low light photography, but its small sensor makes taking proper exposures under dim light a challenge. This is especially true when you are shooting indoor during day time. Turn on the lights and the camera will thank you by giving you great looking pictures.

iPhone’s camera works best with abundance of light. But you need to avoid shooting directly into the sun. Position your subject so that the sun is behind you the photographer.

If you can’t avoid shooting with bright lights behind your subject, turn on the flash to reduce the shadows and to reveal more detail in the photo.

5. Turn on grid

Grid is a helpful on-screen aid that can serve two purposes. The first is to assist you to position your subject during composition. And it can serves as visual cue whether you are holding your iPhone properly in horizontal position.

To turn on the grid, go to Settings > Photos & Camera and turn on the Grid switch.

Tips for great iPhone photography turn on grid

6. Use flash only when necessary 

There is not much control given to photographer for the camera flash in iPhone, except for an auto mode. This auto-mode most often than not gives an less than ideal exposures especially on the skin tones of people. Generally it is advisable not to use the flash.

Use the flash as a fill flash when the subject is behind strong light. And use the flash when there is no option for light in dark places.

iPhone 5s comes with a “True Tone” dual-LED flash which is meant to improve the colour tones of photos taken with the flash. It might aid in the exposures for low light situations. Experiment with it to see if you like the results.

Tips for great iPhone photography iPhone 5s true tone flash

It is common for people new to photography to take all photos with flash on. Flash has a limited reach, even more so for small flash in your iPhone. Thus if you’re taking a photo with a subject far away, such as tennis athletes competing in a court, your flash has no impact on the outcome. You will be just wasting your battery if the flash is on.

7. Use HDR in tricky situations

HDR combines several exposures to create a single picture which improves on the detail and dynamic range of colors. Experiment on using HDR to see if you like the HDR look. Some people might not like the stronger dynamic in HDR photos, and prefer a more natural tones. HDR however could be saviour for high contrast scenes or with tricky lightning condition. If you’re unsure, take one shot with HDR switch on and another one with HDR off. 

8. Tap subject to focus

Normally when you aim at your subject with the camera app, it focuses quickly. At times when the lightning condition is not ideal, the camera will hunt for the subject to focus. To assist, simply tap on the subject to bring it to focus.

9. Learn about composition

Composition is at the heart of each great photo. Know your subject and what you’re trying to convey in each photo. Your subject should not always be at the center. Take interesting shots by taking the subject at different angles and distances.

Tips for great iPhone photography Understanding Exposure Bryan Peterson

The whole art of photography can not be covered in a post. To get started, we recommend the classic photography text Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.