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How to Take Better iPhone Photos

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It’s easy to take good photos with the iPhone, but a few tips will help you take great iPhone photos.

Because the iPhone is almost always with us, it is the best camera for many users. With these tips, you can take photos that look like they came form a point-and-shoot, not a smartphone camera.

There’s no need to go buy iPhone photography cases and adapters. Changing the iPhone camera settings and photography basics, you can improve the quality of your iPhone photos.

Here’s how to make your iPhone photos standout on Facebook and suitable for framing.

Use the Grid Option

One of the easiest ways to take better photos is to use the grid option. The grid makes it easier to use the rule of thirds, where you line up the subject or elements along the lines for better looking pictures.

Grid option iPhone

How to Turn On the iPhone Camera Grid

  • Open up your Camera app from the home screen.
  • Tap options in the middle of the top row.
  • Slide Grid to the on position.
  • Once you have moved the slider select Done, and your screen should have a grid on it like the screen shot above.

The grid appears on-screen, but not in your photos.

Pick The Right Flash Setting

Choosing whether or not to use flash can have a big impact on the outcome of your photos. By default the choice for your flash is set to Auto. Leaving the Flash set to Auto will work most of the time, but taking control of the flash can lead to better photos.

Follow these simple guidelines for when to use flash and when not to use flash to avoid photos ruined by a harsh flash.

When to use Flash

  • In daylight to get rid of shadows on your subject.
  • When it is totally dark.

When NOT to use Flash

  • Large arenas, concerts, sporting events.
  • Mirror photos or when shooting through a glass window.
  • Any object that is not moving in general.
  • On people as it has a very vampire like effect.

The flash on iPhone is only effective up to 15 feet, so if you are more than 15 feet form the subject, it’s best to tuen the flash off.

How to Control iPhone Flash Settings

  • Open the Camera app.
  • Tap the flash option in the top left corner.
  • Toggle On, Off or Auto.

If you often take fast photos without looking at the Flash option, you may want to keep the flash set to Auto so you don’t miss a shot where you really need flash.

Turn on HDR

HDR stands for high dynamic range and it is an option that can make even the most average user seem like a professional photographer. Instead of taking a single photo, HDR mode takes three photos at different exposures and combines them to create a more natural looking photo.

Ex: With HDR On

sunset HDR

Ex: With HDR turned off

sunset regular

As you can see the differences between the two photos are subtle but noticeable. HDR works best with outdoor photos and people.

  • How to Turn on HDR
  • Open the Camera app.
  • Tap Options.
  • Move the HDR toggle to On.
Make sure you leave the option to keep the normal photo on unless you want to risk losing a good shot.

Master Focus and Exposure

The iPhone does a really good job of autofocusing but there are also more advanced ways to focus such as manual focusing. When you manually focus with an iPhone, you get to decide which part of the image is in focus, and which part is blurry. This is a great way to call attention to an object in your photo, even if it is in front of a noisy background.

To use tap to focus you tap on the part of your image where you would like the camera to focus. After doings this you should see the changes being made to the focus and then you can snap your picture.

An even more advanced method of tap to focus is auto exposure/auto focus lock. This is a handy way to keep your camera at the same settings for several different shots.

To enable autofocus/autoexposure you click on the screen just like autofocus, but you also hold the part of the screen that you want to focus on for about three seconds. Release to save the settings and look for the AE/AF Lock text on the bottom of your cameras screen, as shown in the screenshot above.

To clear the lock, tap the screen again, and the iPhone will auto focus again.

What are your favorite tips to take better iPhone photos?

12 Comments

  1. Adrian

    05/29/2012 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for the article very helpful.

  2. Yaz

    08/22/2012 at 11:23 pm

    Very helpful! I just got the iPhone 4s and had no idea those options where available. Thanks again (:

  3. victor

    09/15/2012 at 1:18 am

    when i use my iphone 4S to take pictures of laminate wood flooring, the colours turn out different from the real colours. Why? How to configure my iphone or what software to use so that I can take pictures whose colours are like the real colours? Thanks.

    • Dre

      10/22/2012 at 4:46 pm

      Am curious about this as well; the colors are not true. I wish I could set more on this camera than just flash and zoom! Very disappointing in this overrated phone. . .

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  5. Mobile Case Direct

    01/02/2013 at 9:18 pm

    I always wondered what HDR meant. Great post love the pics. What about new Panorama feature IOS 6?

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  8. Wendy

    03/28/2013 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for the useful tips, I’ve been struggling with taking good photos with the iphone, a lot of the people I take have dark faces, especially when I’m under some kind of shades.

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  11. aliciallazri

    02/26/2014 at 2:09 pm

    Very helpful thanks I will follow your advice.

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