Getting the best pictures from your iPhone’s Camera

Despite being inside a phone, the iPhone’s camera is surprisingly decent and can produce some interesting photos. That said, there’s probably a large portion of iPhone owners taking under/over exposed, flash-bleached, visually boring shots of their relatives and landmarks.

Don’t let that iPhone camera go to waste! In order to get the best pictures from your iPhone’s camera, read the following tips:

Avoid “Washed-Out” light:

Lighting is really the secret weapon of great photographs. You can compose a shot all you want and have a really interesting subject but if the lighting is wrong, the photo will be too. Pay attention to lighting, and avoid taking photos during the middle of the day when the sun is bleaching everything. Use shadows or cloud cover if possible during the day.

Time of day / time of year:

Since the sun is such a strong light source and can wash out textures and colors, take your photos in the early morning or late afternoon. Not only will the lighting be better, the sun will cast shadows and color the scene in very interesting ways. Most professional photographers take their shots of landmarks in the early morning or evening.

The time of year also affects the sun’s position in the sky and can slightly alter scenes, changing the way everything feels. Be advised that in early morning and late evening, the lighting can rapidly change. Set up your shot and take it without delay.

Wait, if possible:

Sometimes the lighting is right but the subject isn’t ready. Or vice-versa. When looking for a quality photo, it pays to be patient. Often a professional will wait days for the right lighting and moment to converge into a great photograph. When the lighting is right, sometimes all you have to do is wait a minute for the subject to step into your photograph or move into just the right position.

Composition / Framing:

Besides bad lighting, the next worst thing you can do for a photo is badly compose it. The family photo where everyone is so far away from the camera that you can’t see them or the Statue of Liberty in the background comes to mind. Pick a subject for your picture and photograph that. If it’s the family, photograph them and not the background. Experiment with positioning, shadows and framing. Find a way to focus on your subject while incorporating the background or scene into the picture.

Be candid / Take many pictures:

In the film days, snapping photos willy-nilly was expensive and before you know it, you’ve wasted a roll. We’re in digital land now. Snap away. Take as may pictures of your subject as your can. Some of the best photos are taken when your subject isn’t even aware that you’re still taking pictures. See, when people know they are being photographed, they pose, say cheese and assume a bad smile. Take pictures when your subject is being themselves. Take hundreds of pictures. If you don’t like them, erase them – no harm, no foul. You never know when you’ll snap that incredible photo just by chance.

Lose the flash:

Low light / night-time photos are tricky. Your instincts will tell you to put on the flash. Don’t. Remember, lighting is the secret weapon. Flash ruins that lighting especially when photographing your subject up close. Another nasty surprise is that the flash doesn’t do a thing when photographing a subject in the distance. With auto focus / exposure features, the flash is likely to wreak havoc on your photo, making it look nothing like you imagined. Turn off the flash and take your low-light and night pictures. Trust me, they’ll look much better.

Be still in low light:

Low light and no flash makes a shaky picture look… shaky. So you’re going to have to be still. Hold the iPhone camera horizontally with two hands and brace your elbows on a steady surface. Take a deep breath, exhale and take the picture. If you don’t have a steady surface to settle you, tuck your elbows into your body.

Let the image settle:

The automatic features of your iPhone’s camera are there for focusing and exposure. Once you have a shot in mind, position the camera and wait a second or two for the camera to “settle” into the image and get itself ready. Then snap the photo. Be patient, and don’t rush the shot.

Correct your exposure:

Automatic features are nice but they can’t read your mind. Sometimes they don’t know what you are trying to photograph or how you are trying to photograph it. You’ll know this because your camera will over or underexpose the picture. Correct this by focusing on something lighter (for overexposure) or darker (for underexposure) and then move back to your subject gradually so it doesn’t reset it’s exposure levels.

Time your camera:

It’s important to “know” your iPhone’s camera in order to get the best pictures. For instance, when you press the button – it doesn’t take a picture. When you remove your finger, that’s when it takes the photo. Use this to your advantage by pressing and holding the button. Compose the shot, wait for the camera to settle and release when you want to take the photo. Now, remember the iPhone’s camera will lag a slight bit before the shot is actually taken. Know this timing if you’re taking an “action” shot by anticipating the photo and releasing the button a half second or so early.

These tips aren’t just for iPhone or iPod Nano owners. You can incorporate these tips with any camera phone or digital camera. Happy picture taking!

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