Updated: Dec 7, 2022
The mobile telephone has become an item most people have with them most of the time. So it is no wonder that most cameras have been replaced by the mobile phone, and because it is with us most of the time, we take many more photos. For example, I mainly use my phone when I am on my outdoor adventures due to not being able to carry the weight of a proper camera, lenses, and tripod. I have been using an iPhone since owning a smart phone, so my tips in this post are based around the iPhone. Different models have different functions, but most will do these top tips. Although I am discussing iPhone photography, this post will be worth a read if you own a different make as I am sure it will have similar functions.
iPhone Photography Top Tip 1 - Long Exposure
This is one of my favourite functions of the iPhone, especially with water. I love the effect you get and how the picture looks. The image above was done with my iPhone while hiking in the Norwegian mountains. There are a few other tricks you can access the same way as the long exposure one. The first thing you need to do is make sure the live function is turned on.
You will see this in the top right corner of the screen when you are on your camera app. Take the photo, then go into the actual photo on your album. You will see the wording "live" in the top left corner:
If you tap on this you will then get a drop down menu:
Choose long exposure and see the magic happen to your image. (Feel free to experiment with loop, bounce, and off as well). Something to be aware of is that when it changes your images to the live exposure it does end up cropping it a little. Take a look at these next two images.
You can see that the top of the mountain that was in my original photo (the first photo) was chopped off when it was changed to a long exposure (the second photo), as well as the bottom of the waterfall. Therefore you need to get plenty of space around the original image, so when you convert it to a long exposure it does not crop anything vital off. These next images worked out just fine and are examples of what the iPhone can do with the long exposure function.
iPhone Photography Top Tip 2 - Focusing
This might sound like a no brainer, but this simple function can change your images. To use the focus function, simply tap the screen when you have the camera app open, and you will get a yellow box with a sunshine icon. Now experiment by tapping different parts of the screen so the focus point changes. Can you see how some of the colours/exposure changes? This is a great thing to do when you are taking sunset, or sunrise photos, or photos with clouds in. Where you tap to focus can really make your image stand out more.
This above image is a good example of me changing the focus point so I got the best of these fabulous sunset colours. When you have the yellow box on the screen, you can also slide you finger up and down and that will alter the brightness of the image being taken. This is useful if you feel it is a little over exposed. You can also lock the focus function which is handy if something is moving in the image, as the camera app will constantly try to refocus and readjust. Just tap to focus as usual but hold your finger on the screen for a few seconds and "AE/AF lock" will appear. Now you are ready to snap away.
iPhone Photography Top Tip 3 - Using Grid Lines
Using grid lines helps you to take straight photos and align subjects in your image. Go into your camera phone settings and turn grid on. I do a lot of seascapes so it would be really noticeable if my horizon was wonky, so I use this function to keep them straight. When you take the photo, the camera app should show lines like in the below:
It is also useful for the "rule of thirds". This is a technique a lot of photographers use to take images and if you want to know more about this topic just drop me a comment a below and I will do a special dedicated blog post on it :-)
iPhone Photography Top Tip 4 - The Zoom Out Function
Just like you pinch you fingers away from each other on the screen to zoom in, on some phones you can pinch your fingers together to zoom out. This gives your lens a wider angle. I love using this function with clouds, water, and trees as you can get some really cool images and perspectives. Take a look at the images below which all use the zoom out function. The clouds really draw you into the image, and the trees have this lovely slightly bent effect going on.
iPhone Photography Top Tip 5 - Blur Background
This technique can make some beautiful effective images, especially with certain light in the background giving a bokeh effect - where you have blurred balls of light on the image. I have dedicated a blog post to the bokeh effect just click here. First of all get really close to your subject. Tap the screen to focus and it should blur out whatever is behind it. Another way (if your camera has this option) is to select portrait mode. This will also blur your background.
Take a look at the images below al taken in one of these two ways:
iPhone Photography Top Tip 6 - Burst Mode
Burst mode is great for action shots, moving pets, and moving children. You can do this by either holding the shutter button down for longer (the longer you hold the more images you get), or press shutter and drag to the left. Once you have taken the images go into your photo album and click on the one image. Then you will get all the images on that burst and you can select which ones you keep and which ones you delete. Here are some examples of images I have take in burst mode:
iPhone Photography Top Tip 7 - Macro
Macro photography is where you get good definition and detail in your images close up. You can get third party apps to help with this, and it is also much better on the iPhone 13 onwards, but it is possible in some form with other earlier models. Get up very close with the subject, or a small part of it if it is large, use the focus technique and take an image. You should have more detail in it than usual. Here are some of my examples:
I hope those top 7 tips have given you some things to try and experiment with and that you have learnt something new. The image of the week that I have chosen today is this one:
It does just happen to be another image taken with my iPhone. I was out for my usual Saturday morning run with the dog, and the sun was rising. We have had such grey weather recently that this was a welcome change even though it only lasted a few hours! The calm water, the sun, and the clouds made for lovely reflections too. My run took a lot longer that day as I stopped for many photographs :-)