iPhone Photography

How to get more out of your phone camera

Well these days every smart-phone has a built in camera.  We can take some amazing photos with just our phones.  Well if the conditions are right, such as lighting.

For example on the iPhone there are some pretty good basic functions that can help you achieve the scene you see in real time, in your phone camera.

iphone camera hoz

So lets start with a quick shot, you open your camera app.  Do you know that the iPhone has a quick access from the lock screen.  With the older models you would swipe up from the bottom and some of the newer ones you swipe from right to left on the lock screen and your camera will open.  When I first got my iPhone I didn’t realize that this was possible and so I missed out on numerous impulse quick shots, because I had to enter my pass code then find the camera app.

So if you have are not in a rush to take the image and have some time to compose and play with what you see and what the camera sees and records we can go into a few of the basic settings.

These will be for iPhones but Android phones will have similar options. 

So lets start with the flash, the lightning symbol, if you click on it it will most likely be set for auto so it decides when there is not enough light and will go off. My preference is to turn it OFF as I want to be the one that chooses when I want it to go off.  

Learning to read light whether shooting with a DSLR camera, regular digital camera or even a phone camera can dramatically improve your shots. (More on this later on)

What I mean by this is (again in the beginning this will take a bit more time to get the shot) but it can give a different final shot. Yes you can do some adjustments after the fact in the editing section but I like to get the best shot possible straight out of the camera (SOOC).

So back to the flash, for now turn it off and see how much the camera will adjust for the light without using it.

Here is a little tidbit for you, that once I learned this helped me to get better shots too.

On the iPhones once you turn on the camera, hold it up to a scene you want to shoot if you watch the screen you will notice it focus and adjust for the lighting.  Now just for fun tap the screen somewhere bright in the scene. The camera will make that spot the proper exposure which most of the time will make the balance of your image darker.  It can help with getting a nice silhouette of a surrounding subject. Now do the opposite tap your finger on a darker part of the scene, you will see it will adjust the light to make it have the better lighting and in turn the area that was bright to begin with will be allot brighter or as we say it can be blown out which basically means that that particular area in the image you are composing will look so bright that it is washed out looking.

sunset photo with iphone

So here is my little tidbit you pick a scene, this works great for sunsets because there is usually allot of contrasting light, some spots very very bright and others dark or almost silhouetted. So again touch your finger on the screen on the brighter or more colorful area of the sunset, for example, and you will see a square box are come up where the camera is taking the reading for the lighting.  Just beside the square, usually yellow there is a small sun icon next to a line.  Ok here comes the fun part. Now take your finger and place it on this line and slide it up or down.  Yes you see right it is adjusting the light of the particular scene you are looking at, neat eh.

So you can now push the slider up or down and adjust the shot to where and what you are really seeing or to the way you want to see the final shot.

Yes this trick I use a lot when I shoot sunsets because the smartphone camera struggles to get the lighting to what I want so I use this technique to get a better image than just using the phone’s own settings.

Well go out and try this little trick next time you see a neat sunset and shoot it the way you see it or shoot it the way you want to see it.  Have fun.

Check back as I will be adding more information about other iphone photography features.

So if you found this article interesting or would like to share some feature you have discovered that helps you with your iPhone or and smartphone camera please feel free to share below.

22 thoughts on “iPhone Photography

  1. Pretty cool! I am pretty lazy when it comes to technology. I only seem to learn what I have to or what really interests me. I take lots of photos, like everyone, and I never knew I could easily adjust things like this. I use an android but it did the same thing. I know I will be using this trick from now on. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Hi Jason,
      You are very welcome, I am glad that my tidbit on iphone photography gave you a helping hand to improve your smartphone
      images. It is amazing now a days what you can capture when conditions are right and with learning a few tricks to help
      improve smart phone images. Check back as I will be adding more tidbits to this series. Feel free to drop me a comment and
      I would be pleased to help with any questions you may have.

  2. I am not really big on using my iPhone to take pictures but with this trick I learned today, I might just be using it often to take photos of random sceneries.

    I love sunsets but I always use my digicam. Funny, but to me, my iPhone is only for making calls and sending text messages. When my friends found out how I use my iPhone, they said I should have just bought an ordinary cellphone.

    And yes, one of the reasons I seldom use my iPhone for other things other than a call and sms is because I find it troublesome to have to enter my pass code every time.

    Do you suggest turning off the flash even when capturing other sceneries besides a beautiful sunset?

    1. Hi Alice, 

      It took me a while to take photos with my iphone too, but sometimes if its the only camera at hand and you know a few tricks, and conditions are right you can get some amazing photos.

      With the iPhone you can get into your camera without unlocking your phone.  Depending which iPhone you have some you wake up and swipe up from the bottom and some you wake them up with the home key and swipe right to left and it will open your camera.  Give it a try.

      I actually do suggest that you turn your flash off for most photos unless you are really in a low light situation because most of the time I find that the flash brightens the scene to much.

      I hope that gives you a bit more info to try a few iPhone photos. 

      Let me know how you make out and if there is anything else I can help you with feel free to drop me a note.

      Also check back as I will be adding more tidbits soon.



  3. I like that tip on adjusting the light by selecting the certain areas. I never knew our phones have that capability. I like taking pictures with my phone. Now I can add the tidbit to my toolkit.
    Thanks, Monika.
    Of the phone camera’s which is the better one in your experience?

    1. Hi James,
      Thank you for checking out my site. When I found that light adjustment feature it sure helped to improve my iphone images. Nice to be able to get a good shot with your smartphone, when your slr is not with you and you find that shot you want to capture.
      Well so far I am mostly familiar with iphone camera’s and find them pretty good but I have also heard that the new Samsung phones have a pretty amazing camera in them also. Which I may need to check out down the road.
      If you have any future camera questions, please feel free to drop me a note in the comments and I will work to help you out.

  4. Hi Monika, awesome article =) I have been an iPhone user for almost 6 years now and I must say that have taken thousands of pictures already =) Reading your article articulates what I seldom take for granted, but now I am reminded. A great read as a guide and refresher for iPhone lovers. Thanks again =)

    1. Hi JR,
      Thank you for checking out my page. I am happy that my tidbits about iPhone photography have assisted you. Please feel free to add comments if I can assist you further with any photography questions you may have.

  5. Monika, thanks for the tips for iPhone photography. I mainly use my iPhone these days for taking pics over my digital camera. I always said one day I will get a nice camera because I love taking pictures. I just never did. Great website.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I to use my iPhone a fair bit for photos but when I really want to go out and capture more creative images I take my SLR camera. Prices are always coming down in this digital world of cameras if you are wanting to buy new. But another alternative is to buy a good used camera. That is where I started was with purchasing my camera gear used. There are a number of sites to find used cameras. There is a link on my sidebar check it out. Just a note check on the shoot count on the camera you are looking into purchasing and do a bit of research online to see what the camera’s are rated for. Other than that most online stores are pretty good at checking over their used inventory to make sure it is up to snuff.
      If there are any other things about photography or camera gear I can help with please feel free to comment again here.

  6. Very nice trick, which many people are not aware of. 

    I found this out by accident a couple months ago when I touched it, and since then I always use it honestly. 

    You don’t need to adjust too much anymore, perfectly for lazy people like me. 

    I don’t have an IPhone, but my Huawei offers this option as well. 

    Thanks for sharing it with us! 

    1. I am glad that you have found this information helpful in improving the focus of images using you Huawei smart phone. It is neat when you accidentally find something new and it improves the way you use your phone and produce better images. 

  7. I don’t have an iphone, but I’m sick of my android’s camera. I was a professional photographer and took part in some filmmaking a while back, but no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get decent photos, which is why I’m looking into getting an iphone in the near future. Thank you so much for the tips!! I’m sure they’ll come in handy.  🤓

    1. Hi Maurissa. 

      Yes going from shooting pro gear to then using a smart phone camera can be challenging. I understand your frustrations with the android phone cameras. My husband has an older android and when I want to take a quick photo I get so frustrated as the moment is gone before I even get it opened up to shoot. 

      I find my iPhone much easier to understand and navigate.

  8. Nice advises you give there. The number one problem with smartphones is light because of the camera sensor size and because of that they will never reach the quality of a DSLR camera. But with the tricks you propose I agree that you can take good looking photos even in hard lighting conditions. Great article for those that really care about taking nice photos in not so ideal lighting environments. Thanks for the share.

    1. Hi Stratos, 

      Yes smartphones have sure evolved with their cameras and it is nice to find some tricks to be able to get a good image when a smart phone camera is all that you have with you at the time. Knowing what options you have available to use makes it easier to capture what you see. 

      Drop me a note in the comments with any questions I can help you with.

  9. Hi Monika,

    What a great article! As a fellow iphone user, i always felt i wasnt getting the best use of the camera and its features especially since its costs so much!

    I really liked the trick about the slider! I never knew how to properly use it..thanks for that!

    Do you have any tips for using the stage light option on portrait mode? I have no idea when to use that!

    1. I am glad that my slider tip has been of some help in your iPhone photo taking.

      In regard to the Stage light option in portrait mode, on iPhone 8 and X, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

      You want your subject to be looking towards you (can be on a bit of an angle) but you want to see both eyes. 

      Having a neutral coloured background with minimal objects or other people also helps and shoot in a low light situation when wanting a black background in your final image.  

      Using a flash will also help to get a sharper image than not using it.

      My biggest suggestion is just to experiment with different lighting situations and you will soon find what looks the best to you.

      Please feel free to comment with any other questions I can help you with.

  10. I have been using phone cameras for all my official and personal photos since more than last 15 years. Till now I had used the flash setting and a couple of times the macro option. Never touched any other settings with a fear that it will harm my photographs. Now that I have been lucky to find your site, I have book marked it for later reference. Thanks Monica.

    Gee Ess

    1. I am glad to hear my post has been of interest and helpful to you and your iPhone photography.  There are a number of apps out there too that can help to get more out of your camera settings.  I will post some that I use in a future post.

      If there is anything else that I can help you with please feel free to drop the question or comment below and I will help you with that.

  11. Hey Monika!

    Great tip! I don’t have an iPhone, but this trick works on my Galaxy Note as well. I will have it in mind for future photos. I do have a first generation iPad Air, so I will test it. I don’t usually take photos on the iPad, but in those rare occasions that I do, I want to get the most out of the photos I take

    I was wondering, could you make a post on how to take a 3D photo?

    Thanks again!


    1. Hi Marios,

      I am glad my post was helpful. I too have one of the early iPads and the way you use and the megapixel count on the cameras have increased but I do have to say for the early iPad cameras they took some pretty decent images. 

      There is a bit involved to take 3D images. I will look at doing and intro post on this subject in the near future. 

      Thank you for your comments and requests. If there is anything else I can help you with please feel free to ask in the comments below.

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