Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone part III

how to take photos with an iPhone How to take photos with an iPhone part III, is the third installment on how to take better photos with an iPhone or any smart phone for that matter. Read the previous two posts at these links:

How to take photos with an iPhone part I

How to take photos with an iPhone part II

In this post we are going to talk about apps and post-processing your images.

1. Apps

If you were like me, the first time you purchased an iPhone you probably didn't even know what an app was. Only yesterday a friend of mine asked me that very question - 'what's an app?'

An app is a piece of software that does a specific task, which runs on your phone. App is short for application - as in software application. If you go to the App store with Apple, you'll find more apps than you can poke a stick at.

Once you've taken a photo, nine times out of ten, you'll need to run that photo through some post-processing. On a smart phone this is done with an app. A photo app turns your smart phone into your very own portable digital dark room, which when you think about it, is pretty amazing really.

2. Which App?

Given the huge number of apps out there for photographers, it can feel pretty daunting trying to decide which app is right for you. Popular apps include:

Instagram (50,000,000 downloads so far); HipstamaticCamera+, Adobe Photoshop Express and VSCO.

My advice with apps is this - purchase one app, learn it, then master it, then add another app to your iPhone.

Only by slowing down and really learning one app, will you begin to produce iPhone photos with a consistent visual aesthetic.

3. App Traps

Apps have some traps that you should watch out for.

Instagram - I use Instagram a lot, but there is one thing I really don't like about it. You can't process an image in Instagram and just save it on your photo roll. Whatever the reason, each time you process an image with Instagram, it will automatically be uploaded to your Instagram feed online. Unless I've missed something really obvious over the past two years, there is no way around this. The flip side is, you can make your Instagram feed private. Just go to your Instagram account online and dig through the Preferences.

Hipstamatic - This app is like using film. You select the film type you want, the lens you want and then you take your photo. The app actually processes the photo based on your preferences and spits out the final image. Unlike other apps where you take the photo, then process with an app, Hipstamatic is the reverse. This means you can end up with a lot of photos with a look and feel, that you may not like. And which you can't really change.

Another trap with apps, is ensuring that you are shooting at the highest image size possible. Always check this when you download a new app. Just go into the app settings and make sure you have selected the highest possible setting you can for image size.

Check back later in the week for Part IV How to take photos with an iPhone.


Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone Part II

How to take photos with an iPhone part II, is the second installment on how take better photos with your iPhone or smart phone. Read part one here: How to take photos with an iPhone. In part one we talked about the basics - keeping your lens clean, having the brightness turned up, how to hold your phone steady, dealing with the shutter lag and how to focus the camera. In this post, we are going to talk more about actual photography.

1. The Light

This is a universal truth with photography - nothing will improve your images faster than shooting in good light.

To understand light, you need to become aware of it. To do that, you need to start observing light around you at various times of the day. What's the light outside your window right now? What's the light like in your city after a big storm comes through? If you begin asking yourself these questions, you'll begin to develop an understanding of light and just trust me on this - your photos will improve.

When it comes to taking a photo, ask yourself these questions:

What is the angle of the sun in relation to the subject?

If the sun is behind your subject, they'll be back lit. Is this something you want? If not, you need to add in some flash or move yourself or the subject in relation to the sun.

What is the quality of the light in relation to the subject?

If you are trying to take a portrait of a friend who is standing half in the shade and half in the sun, I can tell you right now, you'll have a hard time getting a good photo. Camera sensors can't deal with such contrast. Ask your subject to move fully into the shade or fully into the sun, to improve your photo.

Though you may not realise it, as a society we are surrounded by photography. When you see photographs, ask yourself this: what is the light in the photo like? What's the light source - artificial or natural? Is the light contrasty or soft and diffuse?

Practice answering these questions and over time, you'll develop a keen sense of light.

how to take photos with an iPhone

2. Colour and Form

Colour and form can have a tremendous impact on a photo. When it comes to form, learn about the rule of thirds. When it comes to colour, learn about colour theory.

If you are thinking these topics are more about design than photography, you are partially correct. Good photographers understand design and create photos accordingly.

Want to create better photos? Learn about design.

3. Photo Content

Before you even take a photo ask yourself this question: is there a clear subject in my photo?

Asking yourself this question prompts you to think about what you are actually taking a photo of, as opposed to just pointing your camera and taking a snap.

If your photo doesn't have a clear subject, then it doesn't matter what is happening with the light, colour and form of your photo. If however you do have a clear subject in your photo and you have good light, colour and form, then you are well on your way to creating a better photo.

how to take photos with an iPhone

4. Technique is Beyond the Tools

If iPhone photography did one thing, it was to dis-spell the photography myth that you need the latest and greatest camera to create great photos.

So folks listen up - a camera is a tool. All it does is record light on a light sensitive medium. That's it.

If you are taking bad photos on your iPhone, you'll be taking bad photos on a $10,000 Nikon D4. Don't ever be one of those photographers that blames their tools for lousy photos or incorrectly thinks they need a better camera to take better photos. It's a rabbit hole you don't want to fall down.

For more iPhone inspired photography, check out these photos I created in Kathmandu Nepal with my iPhone.

Check back next week for Part 3 How to take photos with your iPhone.


Christchurch wedding photographer - How to take photos with an iPhone

how to take photos with an iPhoneHow 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.

5. Focus

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.