A Mobiographer’s Journey From Analog to iPhone
A couple of years ago, mobiographer Erica “Spin” Simas moved…
It’s easy to find in-depth mobile photography advice if you want to hone your style, gain niche Instagram followers or display your work in a gallery, but what about a beginner photog who just wants to get comfortable with the basics? Your iPhone has a handful of hidden features that you probably don’t know about yet. These tricks will make shooting quicker, easier and more enjoyable.
The volume buttons on the side of your phone can be used individually to release the shutter, making it easier to take a photo when you’re holding the camera sideways and in both hands. Note that since it’s harder to press the volume button than to tap the on-screen shutter, it can result in camera shake. Avoid using the volume buttons when shooting in low light.
Those Apple headphones that come standard with every iPhone purchase have an additional use: the volume buttons can be used to release the shutter. Street photographers can discreetly take pictures of strangers without them being the wiser. The headphones are also helpful if your camera is on a tripod, because the shutter release won’t shake the camera. Use this trick in low light, nighttime and long exposure photography.
When the perfect moment unexpectedly pops up and you need to shoot stat, the few seconds it takes to unlock your phone and bring up the camera app can mean a missed opportunity. When you’re using your phone, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and choose the camera icon on the bottom right of the Control Center. When your phone is not in use, turn the screen on and swipe left to immediately open the camera – this will work even if your phone is locked!
A beginner photographer will love how well the iPhone sets focus and exposure on its own, but if you’ve noticed that you’re not focusing on the right part of the background or foreground, you’ll want to play with the settings. Tap on the part of the screen where you want to focus and your iPhone will auto-adjust the exposure to match. You can then move the sun icon up and down the vertical slider to further adjust the exposure, if needed.
Burst Mood, which takes 10 photos in just one second, is a huge help for eliminating blur in action photography. To take the photos in quick succession, simply press and hold the shutter release button. If you’re taking a still life or a landscape photo without any movement, though, don’t bother with Burst Mode – it’ll be taxing to sort through multiple identical images.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) combines three exposures of the same image to create a balanced photo. By using HDR when shooting a scene with a lot of contrast, you’ll get details in both the highlight and shadow areas. Without HDR, a high-contrast image may have underexposed and overexposed areas. While HDR works particularly well in landscape photography, avoid using it in action photography. Access HDR at the top of your camera app and choose to have it on auto mode, on or off. Also, since HDR doesn’t always improve even a high contrast image, make sure the originals will be saved by going to Settings, choosing Photos and Camera and turning on the Keep Normal Photo option under HDR.
Learning the ropes of mobile photography isn’t a straight line. While many beginner mobiographers start by understanding the basic functions of their camera, there are certainly some long time users who still get surprised by unknown tools and secret tricks. When you know how to expertly use your iPhone and camera app, you’ll shorten the distance between spotting a powerful photo opportunity and being able to capture it.