Photography tips – taking photos on your iPhone

I saw an advert pop up on my Instagram about an iPhone course and I thought, hang on, I am sure I can find out the information without paying for a course. I did, some of the tips I already knew but I did learn a few new functions! So I wanted to share it. For this post I am using my iPhone 8 Plus, it is updated with the most recent iOS update too (currently 12.3.2). So here are my photography tips with an iPhone:

First off – use the grid

The grid is really useful on your iPhone camera as it helps you to line up your photos correctly, using the rule of thirds. It’s probably the only “technical” photography thing I know. The grid is split into 9 equal parts and allows you to align your subject in one of these intersections. It creates more depth, tension and interest than just snapping everything in the centre of the camera. I have always used the grid, it helps me to align my photos properly and make sure I get it right.

Here’s the grid shot using the rule of thirds, I have positioned the camera so the rose (my subject) is in the left hand intersection of the grid:

Here is the same photo using the middle intersection:

The outcome with the rose on the left, I think it looks much more creative (don’t you?), this photo is completely unedited:

To turn the grid on your iPhone, open “settings“, “camera” and slide the “grid” to on.

Whilst we are in settings, lets turn on HDR:

Turn on HDR

HDR is High Dynamic Range. This basically means that it takes a few snaps at the time you press the button, taking before and after moments – it then compresses them to get the best photo. The photos are brighter, the contrast is more vivid and I think they come to life a little more. Here are 2 photos of the same thing, you can see the difference and they are completely unedited.

With HDR:

Without HDR:

To turn on HDR on your iPhone, open “settings“, “camera” and slide the “HDR” to on, you also want to turn “keep original photo” on too.

Tap the subject to focus

Did you know if you tap on the screen of the camera, the camera will focus on where you tapped? Most people probably know this already, it’s quite an intuitive feature of the iPhone camera. You can tell when you have focussed as a little yellow box appears on where you tapped. If you see in the photo below, there’s a yellow box with a sunshine next to it.

Tap and hold to lock on the subject

Now this was a very neat new trick I learnt. I had no idea I could do this with my iPhone camera. I was very excited! If you follow the instructions above, but instead of tapping on what you want to focus on, tap & hold it. You will get the yellow box with the sunshine, but it will also say AE/AF LOCK at the top. This means auto-focus and auto-exposure is locked. The benefit of this is that you can move around a little & adjust the camera whilst keeping your subject in focus. In the photo below I tapped and held on the dogs, so even though they are moving it kept the focus for me.

You can see the closest point to the camera, the dog leads, is out of focus and the dogs are in focus.

Change the exposure

Another “WOW” moment for me was when I learnt I could change the exposure with a swipe of my finger. So, when you have done the tap to focus thing, as above, you see the sunshine around the yellow box. When you see that sunshine, you can basically swipe up the screen or down to make the exposure higher or lower. Swiping up makes the exposure higher, which essentially lightens the photo and to swipe down is makes the exposure lower, therefore making it darker. Try it:

Default photo settings:

High exposure:

Low exposure:

Taking a flat lay

I had no idea my iPhone could do this. I have noticed the little cross hairs before but I had no idea what they did. If you hold your phone above the subject, as to take a flat lay, you will notice a yellow and white cross hair appears. The aim of these is to allow you to merge these together, so you know the iPhone is flat. To get the best photo. It’s like a spirit level for the camera. What an amazing idea and a great addition to the photography tips.

Can you notice the yellow and white crosses in the middle of the screen?

I adjusted the iPhone to be “flatter” (level with the ground) and the yellow and white cross merged. So clever:

Use the Square setting

If you are taking a photo purely for Instagram, use the square setting on the camera. It will help you shape your subject accurately and using the grid you can get the exact composure you want for your photo.

Live photos

Last but not least, using the live photo setting means you can do some fun things with the photos – like make them loop around like a video or a long exposure photo (which makes blurry motion shots). This is a post editing type of photography tip. Now, I didn’t get too creative as it would have been fun to do it with car lights in the dark or a trickling stream. Instead I went with the blustery leaves:

To turn live on your camera settings, simply by making sure the live icon is yellow when you take a photo, this means it is on. The live icon is the two circles surrounded by the dotted circle, on the left hand menu (or top menu depending on rotation), 3rd icon down:

Then, after you have taken a live photo, you can swipe up from the photo gallery to see all the fun options you have for each live photo:

You may already know some of these photography tips, or you might not use them fully. I would love to know if you have any other tips and tricks with an iPhone. I love taking photos and I always have my iPhone on me, so I like to make the most out of iPhoneography!

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