Is Your iPhone Camera Set-Up To Do The Work For You?
If you are like me, you have your iPhone at the ready to take pictures at any given minute because you don’t want to risk missing that special moment in time. Right?
The problem is you would like to know how to improve the quality of your photos, but there are so many settings to keep track of, and features you’ve never heard of!
I don’t blame you for just wanting to give up.
There is no shame in just wanting to point and click and let the camera do the work for you, and it pretty much does.
But do you sometimes get frustrated when other people seem to know how to take better pictures than you?
So, how are you supposed to know how to do something when you don’t even know what it is? I get that!
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You Have What You Need to Take Great Pictures On the Fly!
I know the pictures you take are very important to you because they are the record of your family memories and important moments in time.
I can’t imagine life without being able to look back and see my kids as babies, their birthday parties, and all of it!
If you have an iPhone, you don’t need another camera to take awesome, sometimes professional pictures.
But the reality is, 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.
What I want to make perfectly clear, 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, but that’s your call.
In any case, it is probably a better idea to learn how to use the many features you have on your phone in your pocket or purse right now.
That is exactly what I want to help you with here.
By knowing what the features/Settings mean and how to use them, even an amateur like me can take great photos that sometimes look professional!
When I describe the features here, I am assuming your phone is at least an iPhone 6.
Before You Take Any More Pictures, Start Here
Let’s start by opening-up Settings on your iPhone and scrolling to Camera.
Let’s take it from the top: You should be looking at what you see in the illustration.
Preserve Settings– Click on it.
You have a few well-explained options here, but I keep Live Photo on because I like it.- Simple.
It’s like a mini-video
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 of your 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 ( again, more later).
How Do You Open Your Camera?
When you want to take a picture, do you unlock your iPhone, tap on your Camera icon and then choose how you want to shoot your photo?
As you already know, that takes a bit of time and you risk losing your photo opportunity.
I know that is really frustrating and probably happens to you more than you would like. Agh!
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.
Try it. You will need to practice this a few times to be sure you are swiping correctly.
Don’t wait until you are going to take the best photo ever.
Select Camera Mode with 3-D Touch
I know this will blow you away! I had no idea!
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.
Can you imagine how much time you are going to save with this feature?
Make your choice and go!
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.
This is where you can turn on or off the flash and HDR modes, choose Live Photo, or 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.
It’s easy to think you’ll remember, but I really recommend practicing.
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.
Didn’t you always wonder why anyone would take a square photo? Dah! Maybe I’m the only one behind the game on this one.
This speaks for itself, but you have a couple of other video options as well that you will want to learn.
As you probably know videos can get out of hand and be too long very quickly. Videos also take up a lot of storage.
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.
Didn’t you always wonder how people make those fast-forwarding movies? Now that I know how to do it, I am totally trying it. Again with kids first, don’t you think?
Plus, 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.
Taking Pictures is More Than Just Pointing & Clicking
By the way, most of the time you want to shoot in Landscape instead of Portrait- this means holding your phone horizontally.
Here are some features you may or may not use all the time, but you should know they are there so you can give them a try when you are ready.
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
I know that probably sounded like too much information and was confusing.
But now, take out your phone and follow along as you try it.
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.
Choose the filter you want and tap done.
Setting the focus of your photo is pretty easy.
Actually, the iPhone will do it automatically, but you can do it by simply touching the screen and a little yellow box will appear outlining what to focus on.
Now look at the yellow focus box, you will see a thin line with a sun in the middle.
Did you know you can drag the sun up and down to change the lighting?
Practice this to see what it looks like.
Plus, you want to change the focus point, just tap somewhere else, and you will see the yellow box move.
Again, if this is overwhelming quit and please come back to each feature separately when you have time..
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 photo 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.
Of course, live photos take up more storage space on your phone.
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!
You are probably feeling like you are in Overload and need to try these features out a bit before moving on.
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
Okay, you are ready to whip out your photos app and show off your family pictures to your neighbors and that old friend you ran into at the grocery store.
I want to know what you found helpful, so please let me know in the comments below!