How to take photos with an iPhone is inspired by a stranger I bumped into a couple of weeks ago while standing on the outside deck of Mueller Hut in Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park. To say their phone photography technique was sloppy, was an under statement. In this post I want to get back to the basics when it comes to taking photos with your iPhone, Nexus, Samsung, insert your smart phone name here.
Part 1: Know the Limitations of your iPhone
Smart phones as camera have some serious limitations in terms of speed, controls and quality. Understanding these basics will help you on the road to better iPhone photos.
1. Keep the iPhone lens clean
Nothing gets grubbier faster than the lens on an iPhone. Before you take photos, do a quick check to see if it is clean.
2. Turn the screen brightness up
If you are taking photos in the middle of the day in blazing sun, you'll barely be able to see the image on the screen of your iPhone. Turn the screen brightness to the highest setting. It sucks the battery power, but at least you can see what you are photographing.
3. Hold it steady!
This is the number one mistake that people make. To get good results, you have to hold your phone steady. Even more so when you are shooting in the low light typical of sunrise and sunset. Ditto for when shooting indoors. Just trust me on this folks - that tiny iPhone sensor needs all the help it can get.
For vertical shots, I hold my thumb against the left side of the iPhone and my fingers wrap around the right side of the phone. I then use my right hand to release the shutter. More on that in a minute.
For horizontal shots, use both hands! One on either side of your iPhone. You can then frame the photo, hold it steady and use a finger from your left hand to release the shutter.
4. Shutter release and lag
Unlike other cameras, the iPhone takes a photo when you take your finger off the shutter release button. This took me ages to master, in part because I've spent years depressing a button to take a photo. To make matters worse, there is a lag between when you release the shutter and when the photo is actually taken. Coming from using high end Nikon cameras that take a photo the instant I depress the button, the lag on my iPhone feels like an eternity.
The only way to master this is to practice taking photos and to learn how long the actual lag is. In time, you will become better at getting the photos you want, when you want.
To focus your iPhone, open the Camera app. Touch anywhere on the screen and you'll see a square appear before you. This is your focus control. It is also linked to the camera's exposure metering, but we'll get to that in my next post.
And if you want to see some inspiring iPhone photography, check out these photos I produced at the end of my year long stay in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
Check back Friday for Part 2: How to take photos with your iPhone.