Let me ask you something. When you last upgraded to your newest iPhone was it because you wanted to communicate with others better?
( that used to be the purpose of a phone, right?)
You probably upgraded because the new iPhone is solving new problems, being more efficient and has new bells and whistles. And it is so shiny and pretty.
However, we all know there are other reasons to upgrade to a new iPhone: ( all true)
- You fell in a lake
- Dropped your phone down an elevator shaft ( true story)
- Slid out of your pocket and into the toilet
- Your child dropped in on cement and shattered the screen ( or was that you?)
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Never for the iPhone Camera?
Truth be told, it is not uncommon for people to upgrade because of the amazing new Camera features offered on each newly released iPhone.
The iPhone Camera features and capabilities allow us the opportunity to take really high-quality professional looking pictures.
Every time a new phone is released, the camera is always boasting upgrades with new crazy capabilities.
The quality of your photos really depends on how familiar you are with the features that come with your iPhone Camera and how you put those features to work.
We actually have a couple of framed nature pictures in our home that were taken with our iPhones.
They are absolutely beautiful.
In addition, like most of you, I have over 4,000 photos on my phone at any given time!
But I do have them organized and find out how I did it in
7 Steps to Organize and Declutter Digital Photos
But I am not here to convince you to run out and get a new iPhone so you can take better pictures. You may want to and so do I.
But, before you do that, let’s make sure you are using the many features you have on your phone right now.
When I describe the features here, I am assuming your phone is at least an iPhone 6.
Before You Take Pictures
Let’s start by opening-up Settings on your iPhone and scrolling to Camera.
Let’s take it from the top:
Preserve Settings– You have a few well-explained options here, but I keep Live Photo on because I like it.- Simple
Grid & Scan QR Codes– I recommend turning both of these on and leaving them on. ( more later)
Record Video – The resolution default setting is 1080 at 30 fps.
Honestly, most of my videos are pretty amateur so I leave it there, but I saw several recommendations to choose 4K at 30 fps
Keep in mind, that the higher the resolution the larger the file will be, and it will take up more storage space.
Record Slo-mo– 720p at 240 fps
Keep Normal Photo– I recommend leaving this off to allow for the HDR feature to do its magic ( more later).
Open the Camera
Typically when you want to take a picture, you unlock your iPhone, tap on your Camera icon and then choose how you want to shoot your photo.
That takes a bit of time and you risk losing your photo opportunity.
Did you know you there is a shortcut?
Swipe up from the bottom of your screen when you are in an app or even in your Locked Screen to launch the Control Center quickly, then tap on the camera button.
Now you can choose Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo, Video, Photo, Square, Pano. (You may also see a Portrait choice if you have an iPhone 7 or later.)
An even easier way to get to the camera icon is to swipe inwards from the right side of your locked screen – This will quickly take you to the Control Panel.
Select Camera Mode with 3-D Touch
Try this. Scroll up from the bottom of your screen as described above, but instead of tapping the camera, hold down or press on the camera.
You will instantly see a screen where you can choose, Record Video, Take Selfie, Scan QR Code, or Take Photo.
Make your choice and go!
This is a huge time saver.
iPhone Camera Modes:
As I pointed out earlier when the Camera app is open, you will see mode options under the photo frame:
Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo, Video, Photo, Square, Pano, and Portrait.
There are also controls at the top of the photo frame to be aware of.
Turn on or off the flash and HDR modes, Live Photo, set a timer, and flip the camera for a selfie.
Let’s briefly go over each of the modes, and I encourage you to give them a try when you are not under pressure to quickly take a photo.
Obviously, you know about this already because it is the one you use the most.
This is the mode to use when taking photos for social media like Instagram
This speaks for itself, but you have a couple of other video options as well.
As you probably know videos can get out of hand and be too long very quickly.
It is SO easy to crop a video to the length you want it. Simply open the video and click edit.
Now, you’ll see a scroll bar at the bottom where you can drag the little vertical white bars from the beginning or the end and cut off the part you don’t want.
I try to do this with every video as soon as possible after I take it. This makes the video easier to share and it takes up less storage space on your camera.
Slo-Mo is great when things are moving quickly or for fun. Kids LOVE watching videos of themselves in slow-motion. The sound is also slowed down, so voices are pretty funny.
This summer we buried the kids in the sand on the beach with just their heads showing and took a slo-motion video of them getting out and running into the lake – awesome
Timelapse for a longer period of time where there is a lot of activity- You may consider using a tripod if you are going to take a longer video.
Also, make sure your phone is fully charged when shooting time-lapse videos because you need quite a bit of video to make this work well.
By the way, most of the time you want to shoot in Landscape instead of Portrait- this means holding your phone horizontally.
Using the Grid
(Settings > Photos & Camera and enabling the Grid switch.)
The Grid Mode divides the screen into 9 equal parts just like a tic-tac-toe board.
You may have heard of the importance of the Rule of Thirds when taking pictures, and that is where the Grid comes in handy.
When getting ready to take your picture, you should see the vertical and horizontal lines. Focus your subject in a spot where a vertical and horizontal line intersect.
To take a picture of something or someone close, focus on one of the vertical lines and intersect it with a horizontal line.
If taking a picture on the horizon you want to focus on one of the horizontal lines- put your object in the crosshairs of intersecting lines
Did you know your phone has the ability to read QR codes?
All you need to do is open your camera app and point it in the direction of the QR code you want to view, and your iPhone will do the rest.
Most photographers will tell you to leave the flash turned off and turn it on if you think you need it. The iPhone does pretty well in natural light.
If you do want to set the flash to auto, the iPhone will decide when light is needed
Setting a filter for you photo makes for a really cool effect and it is a feature that is totally fun to play with.
You can set a filter before you take a picture, but you can also change it after the photo is taken or remove it altogether.
The filters icon is three circles in the form of a pyramid in the upper right-hand corner.
If you want to change it after taking your photo, click on the photo to open it and click edit.
We will talk more about editing in a bit, but you should see the filter icon on the left side of your screen. Click it to make changes.
Setting Focus & Exposure
Setting the focus of your photo is pretty easy. Actually, the iPhone will do it automatically, but you can choose by simply touching the screen and a little yellow box will appear outlining what to focus on.
The iPhone will also automatically set the exposure, but you can adjust it.
Next to the yellow focus box, you will see a thin line with a sun in the middle. You can drag the sun up and down to change the lighting. – Practice this to see what it looks like.
If you want to change the focus point, just tap somewhere else, and you will see the yellow box move.
Maybe you don’t want your camera to keep changing the focus of your picture. You can lock what the focus will be by holding down for a second on the screen. There will be an icon showing you the focus and exposure is locked.
Shooting Burst Photos
The Burst Mode is great for action shots.
To shoot in Burst mode hold down the shutter button (or volume up button) while shooting a photo. Your iPhone will snap several pictures per second.
You will see a counter at the bottom of the screen of how many pictures have been taken. The burst will be saved to your Camera Roll.
Select the burst and delete the pictures you don’t want and keep the best shots.
What is a Live Photo? When Live photo is activated your camera turns part of your phot shot into a tiny video for just a second.
You can turn this feature on and off by tapping the little bullseye at the top of your screen. If it is yellow, Live Photo is on, if the bullseye is white, then it’s off.
If you have never tried this feature, you should, it is a lot of fun. but beware that you may not want to have Live Photo turned all the time because the pictures take up a lot more storage space than a regular still photo.
Your iPhone can do other fun things with Live Photos including turning them into a loop, bounce or Long Exposure.
You just have to try it to see what I’m talking about.
To see this in real-time:
- Take a Live picture on your iPhone.
- Open the picture you just shot.
- Slide up on the iPhone screen with your finger.
- Under effects, select the one you want, like Live, Loop, Bounce or Long Exposure.
Turn On HDR
HDR or High Dynamic Range controls the exposure of your photos for you.
When the HDR feature is activated, your iPhone automatically combines three different exposures in a single photo with a higher amount of detail in its shadows and highlights.
(You’ll know HDR is enabled by the little yellow “HDR” box that appears at the top of the screen.)
How you Zoom In and Out with an iPhone Camera depends on the iPhone you own.
With an iPhone with a single lens to zoom, you pinch on the display. When you pinch out a sliding bar will appear that you can use to bring your photo as close as you like.
When taking pictures with a Dual Lens you can zoom to 2X by tapping the 1X at the bottom of the screen. You can swipe back and forth across the displayed arc to adjust your zoom.
Take Level Photos
Have you ever tried taking a picture of something you need to keep, like a check you are depositing?
This is so cool, you should give it a try right now.
Make sure the Grid option is turned on. Put something flat on a flat surface.
Position your camera over the document and you will see two crosshairs in the middle section of the grid. The yellow one marks the position where the camera will be level and a white one that shows the angle of the camera now.
Tilt the camera until the two crosshairs come together and become one yellow crosshair. – your image is level, take the picture!
Very Cool! I use this a ton!
Let’s talk a teeny bit about editing because I know you have wanted to do this a million times.
- First, choose a photo and open the thumbnail
- On the upper right side, you will see a little wand. Click on it to automatically enhance your photo – very cool
- Click Edit in the upper right-hand corner
- On the right side ( or the bottom depending on how you are holding your phone) you will see a menu of editing icons
- Now, click the little white box to crop or straighten your picture. Try dragging the corners to crop. When you click done your work is saved.
- Next, you see the filter icon we talked about earlier. You really need to try all the options to see the cool effects.
There are about 10 different choices.
- The white circle with dots is where you can change the brightness, change the color saturation, or even change your picture to black and white.
This so cool, you need to try it right away. There are many reasons to write on or mark up a photo, you are only limited by your imagination. Here’s how you do it.
Open up a photo, go to Edit, and this time choose the 3 little dots (…)
- Now choose “Mark-UP
- You’ll see two markers, a pencil, eraser a lasso and a color wheel.
- Try them all, change colors, erase to start over
- The lasso is for moving you drawing or mark-up
- Use it to draw around your mark-up and then you can drag it anywhere
But That’s Not All
- Click on the little plus sign + on the right
- A menu with 4 choices will appear
- Here you can add a text box write anything in any color and move it around
- Add your signature
- And magnify any part of your photo!
- Then try adding a shape or an arrow – your choice of size and color.
Extras (Did You Know)
• You can press the Volume UP button to shoot a picture instead of the shutter button.
• When shooting a video or photo in Messages, tap the camera icon,
next click the little windmill icon on the left
Now, choose a filter shape or text to add to your photo.
To send, tap the shutter, then tap send.
If you have an Apple Watch you need to check out how to use it as a Remote Shutter for your iPhone from iMore
• To Save Storage Space on your phone, go to settings:
Turn iCloud Photos and choose “Optimize Storage”
Not only will your photos be available on all your devices, but a smaller device version is kept on your phone.
The full resolution photo is stored in the cloud and can be downloaded any time you want it.