Take better iPhone photos

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The beauty of the iPhone is its easy-to-use interface. And the iPhone Camera app makes taking a photograph almost a no-brainer. There are loads of features included in the Camera app – some more useful than others. To make the most of this useful little happy snapper, here are some of the functions about which you should know.

The ‘grid’ function
The grid is a super-handy aid for simplifying image composition. The grid helps you to keep your photos straight, and makes it easier to use the ‘rule of thirds’.

What is this ‘rule of thirds’? It’s when you position your focal point – or subject – along the intersections of the grid lines. This helps to give a balance to the image, as people seem to naturally look to these points when viewing an image.

To turn on the grid in iOS 8, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Photos & Camera’ and scroll down to ‘Grid’and slide the switch to the right. The Grid slider is on when the switch is green.

Burst mode
Burst mode is very useful for when you’re taking photos that involve movement. Using this handy function can help you catch the ‘action moment’ of a subject.

To activate burst mode, just hold down the shutter button for half a second or longer, and you’ll take as many as 10 photos per second depending on your iPhone model. You can then go into your photo library, and select the best photos to send or save as separate images, or you can keep them all.

Set focus manually
You can set focus and exposure by tapping on the screen, directly on whomever or whatever you wish to be the focus of your image. If you don’t set the focus and exposure, iPhone will do a fairly good job of doing it automatically, but doing it manually almost always ensures your subject will be better lit and in focus.

Set exposure manually
If your subject is ‘in the dark’ you can manually adjust the exposure. Do this by tapping on the screen until you see the exposure slider with a sun icon appear. Swipe up to make the image brighter, and swipe down to make it darker.

Lock focus and exposure
The iPhone also allows you to lock focus and exposure. This means the lens stays focused on the point you’ve chosen, which makes for quicker exposure and less blurred images – particularly good if you’re shooting a moving target.

To lock, just tap the screen where you want the focus and exposure set, and hold it down for a couple of seconds. A large square with a yellow ‘AE/AF LOCK’ sign should appear where you pressed your finger. Now, the focus and exposure will remain unchanged and autofocus will be disabled.

Take photos using HDR
High Dynamic Range (HDR) combines three different exposures of the same photo to create the best possible image.

Using HDR gives you additional detail in your image, so it’s almost always best to leave it on – especially for still portraits and landscape photography. But when it comes to action photos, HDR, by blending three sequential photos, sometimes causes unwanted blurring. HDR photos also take longer to capture, especially on older iPhones.

When you shoot in HDR, you have the option to save a non-HDR image as well, which is best to do. To save both versions, go to ‘Settings’, then scroll down to ‘Photos & Camera’ and turn on ‘Keep Normal Photo’.

The HDR icon is on the left side of the Camera app. Tapping it on gives you three options: Auto, On or Off.

Take photos with volume buttons
Do you ever have trouble tapping the iPhone’s tiny on-screen shutter button? If so, you can switch to using the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone. This allows you to hold the iPhone in two hands, just as you would hold a camera. Be careful not to press too hard though, as it can cause the camera to move or shake at the moment of capture, which can blur your image.

Your Apple headphones also have volume buttons, which, when plugged in to the iPhone’s headphone jack, can be used to take pictures with minimal chance of moving the camera during image capture.

Using geotagging means you’ll have a record of where you took a particular photo, and the data can be used to display your photos on a map using third-party software. This enables you to develop an exciting album of places you’ve visited over the years. And if you ever need to find all the photos that you took at Uluru, you can do it in seconds.

However, any images you post on social media may use this data to display when and where you were taking that photograph. Geotagging also uses up your phone’s battery, because it accesses GPS with every photo taken. If any of these reasons are a concern to you, it’s best to disable geotagging.

You can turn geotagging on or off by going to ‘Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Privacy’ and tapping on ‘Location Services’. You can then turn all Location Services off, or you can enable or disable them individually. To enable geotagging, make sure the Camera option is set to ‘While Using’.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



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