One thing that I've learned as I've gotten more and more into photography is, while yes, it's a great perk to have a nice DSLR camera- quite frankly, for most people (including myself), that's just not always doable. Growing up with a dad who's a photographer, I've certainly gotten more and more interested in photography in the past few years. When we go on hikes or nature walks, while he's using his DSLR with a lens bigger than a telescope, I bring my iPhone. It's a no brainer that the pictures he takes will always come out better quality, however, throughout the years, I have definitely improved my iPhoneography, and am continuing to learn new tricks every time I shoot which continue to improve my pictures. Here are some things that I do to take the best quality iPhone pictures I can take!
Stay Up To Date With New iPhones
By any means, I'm definitely not saying that I run and grab the newest iPhone whenever it's released. However, I do typically get a new iPhone when my contract is up, which is about every 2-3 years. Usually by that point, a few iPhones have been released, and I always make sure to opt for the one with a good camera quality. Right now, I currently use the iPhone XR which is known for its exterior camera. I feel that as long as I know what I'm doing and focus my pictures, they come out better than some I've seen taken with a regular camera.
Turn on Grid Lines
This is such an important tip, especially when shooting photos with a focal point. Not only do the grids break up the overall image into smaller sections so you can really focus on what you're trying to shoot, but it also helps highlight the focus of your photo. That brings me into my next point, the rule of thirds.
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a photography trick that my dad taught me, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my photos since I've started applying it. This rule is aligning the subject of your photo with the grid lines and their intersecting points. It applies differently to different things, so for example, if you're trying to shoot the horizon, you'd want to place the horizon along the bottom or the top grid line (depending on if you want more of the ground or more of the sky in your picture). By doing this, it allows you to place the emphasis on the subject of the photo rather than the empty space. Another tip when applying the rule of thirds is to make sure whatever empty space there is in the photo should be the direction that the subject is facing or looking.
Lighting is Everything
Good lighting can truly make or break a picture. You're almost always going to get a better picture when the sun is still pretty low, so usually closer to sunrise or sunset. Natural light is always better than indoor lighting also, however, I know at least with some iPhones, you have the capability to set my camera (when shooting in portrait mode) to different types of lighting such as studio light, natural light, and contour light. While you can always adjust the brightness of a photo after the fact, sometimes, it makes the picture look grainy, so I try and steer clear of this if possible.
Focus on the Details
What I love about the iPhone XR camera is that if you get close enough to your subject, and are able to focus the camera, the details you can capture are amazing. I have gotten great pictures of flowers, and butterfly wings using my iPhone camera. Depending on what I'm shooting, I love using portrait mode on certain subjects. This blurs the background and really focuses on the subject of the photo. The main thing is to always make sure to focus the camera before taking the picture, and make sure that the camera is actually focused on your subject and not something in the background!
Look into Additional Lenses
I just recently purchased two additional lenses for my iPhone camera that simply just clip onto my camera. there are tons of different clip on lenses you can buy on amazon, and for the most part they are relatively pretty cheap. I recently bought a macro lens and wide angle lens set from the brand AnazaLea on Amazon for round $20 I believe. So far, I've loved the photo quality of these lenses, and can't wait to look into getting some more.
Adjust your Orientation
Most of the time, I highly recommend shooting in landscape mode over portrait mode, especially when trying to include a lot of the background in your photo. I find landscape photos give a clearer picture and allow you to see so much more. However, there are definitely times when portrait mode should be used, and it is important to know when to use which orientation for the best photo. I typically use landscape if I'm trying to follow the horizon, however, if I'm shooting something up and down, or tall such as a New York City skyscraper or the slot canyons in Utah, I would use portrait mode. Another trick I recently learned is when trying to shoot something super tall that would normally not fit in the whole frame, much like you would use a regular panorama to take a wide photo, if you turn your phone sideways, you can actually take a panorama up and down and it comes out super cool! This picture right here is one that my cousin took of me using the panorama feature on my phone- it was the only way to be able to capture the entirety of the formation.
It's all about the Angles
Angles are EVERYTHING no matter what you're shooting. People can look totally different depending on the angle that you shoot them, the same goes for landscape and nature photos. I've done everything to try and get the best angles, including laying down in the dirt, or climbing up on rocks. Whenever I shoot something tall, I try and get as low to the ground as possible, and try and angle my phone upwards as much as possible to try and fit as much in. However, most of the time, if I'm taking a picture of a person or I want to try and capture the big picture, I always try and get some sort of overhead angle, such as this one.
Edit, Touch Up, Do Whatever!
It's no secret editing your pictures can make them look better, even if it's something as simple as just adjusting the contrast. Editing the pictures I take has made a world of difference. (include unedited vs edited) Depending on the picture, sometimes a simple preset can change the entire look, but sometimes for finer details I just like adjusting the picture elements myself. I go into how I edit my photos in a different post, so feel free to check that out when you're done reading this one!
Unedited Edited using MyLifeAsEva Basics Preset #9
Crop, Don't Zoom in!
This is such an important one!!! I know our first instinct when trying to capture something far away is to zoom in as far as we can, however this will end up making your picture so blurry!!! It is way better to take the picture from a far, and crop it after the fact, and while it probably still won't be the clearest picture, it will definitely be better than a major zoom in.
When it comes to any sort of photography, different things work for different people, and the key is to just get comfortable with whatever type of camera you are using. I personally love iPhoneography for its convenience, and not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I've gotten pretty decent at it over the years. I do plan on getting a DSLR within the next few months, but even still, I still plan to use my iPhone for certain pics. Thanks for reading, and I hope some of these tips and tricks will help you out in your iPhoneography journey! If you have any tips that I left out, please feel free to leave them in a comment below.
Remember, there's always more to be explored!