iPhone photography tips

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The iPhone Photography Awards has gotten us all excited and so today’s blog is all about tips on how to understand some of the settings on your iPhone to help you improve your shots, as well as some apps to help you edit, and even add a different feel and “film” effect to your photos.

Apple is giving standard digital camera companies a run for their money. The picture quality for such a tiny little sensor is amazing (thanks to Sony), and the ease of access and user control is just incredible, but because the phone camera is set-up to be used by people without any photographic experience, it is inevitable that things will go wrong.


The first thing you may have noticed when you got your brand new phone is that all the photos that you shot are moving. That’s because “live photo” is turned on by default.

This is an annoying gimmick in my honest opinion that we need to turn off. To do this, look at the top centre of the camera app and you will see a series of circles highlighted in yellow. Tap on it, and live photo will be switched off.

If you want to shoot using different filters, like black and white for instance, you can do so by tapping on the three circles on the top right of the app. That will open live filters giving you various options to choose from.

I always like to shoot with the camera flash switched off, because, just like your auto mode on your DSLR, the flash will fire whenever the camera software thinks it’s too dark blasting your subject with light and ruining your backgrounds. Besides, we all know, it’s never too dark in photography, but if you do want to add some light in your scene, one way to do is is to use somebody else’s torch.

In order to get this amazing portrait of the astronaut for the cover of National Geographic, Alessandro Barteletti used the LED life from his own phone to light the scene, when he found out that the capsule he was photographing was in complete darkness.

“I had an idea, one of those crazy ideas that only come to you when you are desperate,” he said during an interview.

“I took my iPhone—the only electronic device I had with me—I turned on the torch, and I put it between two panels behind the astronaut. “The module was so small, less than 2 meters of diameter, that the torch was enough to properly light the setting,”

So to turn off your flash, tap the lightning bolt on the top left of your camera app and set it to off.

Now we come to the most interesting feature of the iPhone camera. Focus and exposure.

There is nothing more frustrating that pointing your phone camera to photograph a person indoors who happens to be sitting next to a bright light, like that coming from a window. Most of the time your phone will expose for the brightest part automatically, underexposing your subject and making you wanting to pull your hair out.

If, however, you tap on the area that you want your phone to focus, it will also expose for that area. Once you tap, a yellow square will appear where you touched your screen and the exposure and focus will be set for that part of the scene.

But here’s the best part. Next to the square you will see a sun symbol. If you tap and hold that, a slider will appear and by moving your finger up and down you will be able to underexpose (make your photos darker) or overexpose (make them brighter).

Amazing apps for iPhone users.

We all know Instagram, it’s the platform used by all photographers wanting to share their images and get more followers and exposure. And while It’s true that Instagram is an incredible app, the filters that it offers are somewhat limiting. So I like to use two different apps when photographing. The first app and one of my favourites is Hipstamatic. It’s a wonderful that makes you feel as if you are shooting with a film camera. The app gives you the option to change film and lenses, using different combinations to get different results.

And although the films and lenses have to be bought in order for you to use them, paying a yearly subscription of around £7 to its sister app oggl will give you access to all the films, lenses and combos the app offers.

Hipstamatic has been so successful that it also offers a hipstamatic photo awards, but that’s another story.

The app itself comes with some free options of lenses and films, but you will soon be so addicted that you will just have to have them all. It’s like digital photography Pokemon.

Another app that I really like using is called Black. It is completely free and designed for only black and white photography, giving you the chance to get the feel of legendary films like the Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5, and even expired films. I use this app a lot when I am shooting street portraits or whenever I want to give a different feel to my photos.

Have a look on how you can submit your photos to the iPhone photography awards website, and on our blog. Good luck, and have fun!


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