Camera phones have certainly come a long way. A few years ago it was impossible to try to achieve good photos with the camera that came with your smartphone. The quality and resolution were so low that we didn’t even think about post-processing and posting our photos.
The iPhone has had steady updates with new features added over the years including constant improvements to the camera quality. When the iPhone 8Plus came onto the market, photographers were finally ready to take photos that they could be proud of editing and posting. Many professional photographers are now using their smartphone cameras to snap photos during their travels or even on assignments.
Of course, the iPhone is limited and can’t provide all the creative features that a DSLR with interchangeable lenses can. But some days, carrying bulky camera gear is impossible, so the iPhone provides a great alternative.
Learn how to use your iPhone to its full potential, and you too will be taking great photos with your camera phone! We’ll take a look at the iPhone 8plus and newer models in this article because they have some great new photo features like Portrait Mode.
Super helpful tip: Use the slide-left feature from your lock screen to get quick access to your camera.
Learn the settings
Set to highest quality
Your iPhone camera can offer some high-quality photos and videos. If you intend to store hundreds of photos on your phone without downloading or transferring them into a cloud-based platform, then you may want to shoot in low resolution, so your phone doesn’t get full.
When you do want to shoot something important and want to edit the photos afterward, it’s best to shoot in the highest quality possible.
Set your focus point
The iPhone has a feature that you can use to set your exact focus point, and it’s quite important to use it to achieve tack sharp images.
- Compose your shot
- Tap your screen where you want the focus to be.
- Slide the exposure up or down (The little yellow sun icon).
- Press and hold to lock the focus point and recompose your photo if you wish (AE/AF LOCK).
- Take your photo.
HDR means High Dynamic Range and what it does is help provide evenly exposed images. The camera takes 3 shots when you take a photo and stacks them to provide a perfectly exposed image with all components having details in both the highlights and shadows.
Go to your camera setting and toggle off Auto HDR and Keep Normal Photo toggled on. While shooting you will see the HDR icon at the top. If there is a line through it, simply tap it to activate.
Helpful Tip: Your iPhone gives you the option to preserve your last shoot settings. This is especially useful when you plan to do the same type of photography. If these are not toggled on, the iPhone goes back to its default setting every time.
Use the grid lines
Nothing says amateur like a crooked horizon line. One of our pet peeves as photographers is to see a beautiful landscape where the ocean seems to be sliding down the side of the photograph.
Tilt your head to look at the photo? No.
Better, apply grid lines on your iPhone so that you can align the horizon line to get a perfectly straight horizon.
How-to: Go to settings and toggle the Grid option on.
Composition tips and tricks
Rule of thirds
Rule of Thirds is the main composition rule of photography that allows the viewer’s eye to flow easily over a photo. This is a good guideline to follow but it is not always the best composition for every situation.
Tip: Having the Grid Lines toggled on will help you achieve the rule of thirds better.
Keep it simple
Sometimes less is more. When you cram too much info into a photograph, the viewer doesn’t know where to look and may not capture your intent. Keep white space and focus on a single subject. This will bring attention to the subject and give your photo more creative meaning.
Get down and raise it up
Shooting from the same perspective and position will most probably create some pretty boring and repetitious photos. Try getting down on the ground and see how the perspective changes. This can sometimes add some drama to your subjects. Also, look up! Look at the contrasts with the sky, buildings, trees, and clouds.
Move in close
Sometimes a small detail can take a photograph from good to WOW!
Observe light, colors, and shadows
Learning to observe how light affects objects and changes throughout the day is key to improving your photos. Observe how shadows get created and how the light hits particular objects and capture those unique events.
Look for contrasts of color or a single color pop in a monotone environment.
Photo modes and special features
The iPhone comes with photo modes for you to choose from. The best feature to have come out in the last few years is Portrait Mode.
As of the introduction of the iPhone 8 plus, Portrait Mode has been accessible and has provided some broader creative possibilities. The iPhone Xs and iPhone Xr have the option to adjust the depth of field while shooting in Portrait Mode. Portrait Mode makes great portraits, of course, but can also be used for so much more. Try setting to portrait mode when you want a bokeh effect or a blurry background in your photos.
This mode is useful if you want to post on Instagram while keeping your composition intact.
Shoot some panoramic photos to show a greater angle of a landscape.
Burst Mode: Burst mode is great when you want to capture some action shots. Press and hold the shutter button, and the camera takes a series of photos.
Live Photo: Live photo is a fun feature that records 3-second videos before and after you have pressed the shutter. When viewing your photo, press and hold the photo to see the effect in action. You can activate or deactivate this feature in your camera mode.
Loop, Bounce, Long Exposure: Swipe up on your Live Photo to gain access to a few more features that let you loop the live photo effect, bounce it, or create a long exposure.
Zoom or no zoom – Attachable lens options
- The newer versions of the iPhone have two lenses that allow you to zoom into your subject without moving in closer. This is practical when photographing wildlife or even when doing portraits.
- Click on the 1X at the bottom of the camera screen. The zoom will go to 2X. Click your photo. You can pinch your screen and zoom even further, but this can cause shake in your photo and probably create blur.
Attachable lenses have hit the market and can offer some fun alternatives when shooting. They come in a variety of prices and quality. Macro lenses and fish-eye lenses seem to be the most popular.
Try photo apps and filters
Photo editing apps and software are very popular with amateurs and professional photographers alike. Some apps let you add filters to create moods, while others give you access to features that let you edit and fine-tune your iPhone photos.
Some of these apps even let you get out of the automatic iPhone mode and into manual shooting mode. They let you adjust your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture as you wish.
Here is a list of some of our favorite apps available for your iPhone.
You can shoot in Manual, Semi-automatic, or Automatic modes with Pro Camera. It contains RAW capture, live histogram, and an anti-shake feature. Pro Camera is the app that allows you to achieve super sharp images with your iPhone.
Snapseed is a popular go-to app for every level photographer. It’s one of the most complete free apps offering a variety of functions to edit your photos.
VSCO is one of those apps, that when downloaded, allows you to shoot from your camera phone with the option of controlling the ISO, white balance, shutter speed, and other customizable camera functions.
Like a DSLR, you adjust your exposure components before you shoot to get your desired outcome. You can create long exposure photographs and fine-tune your focus points.
There’s a useful active tilt meter to level your phone to achieve a perfectly straight horizon line.
Have some fun with your iPhone
Even if you own an expensive DSLR and shoot in Manual mode, you can still get some great shots with your iPhone. The latest generation iPhones have stepped up the game regarding the cameras, lenses, and shooting options.
Keep in mind a few helpful tips to achieve beautiful compositions and don’t forget to add some useful photo-editing apps on your iPhone.
Your iPhone photos will look more professional, and you’ll be proud to post and show them off.
Feel free to share some with us in the comments section below.