Taking Great Photos with Your iPhone

By Kristin Ashley

With the warm weather finally here, I’m taking more photos outside–and I’ll bet you are, too. With the improvement in cameras in the newer smartphones, you no longer need a cumbersome DSLR to get great iPhone photos. In fact, you don’t even need a computer to share, store and edit your photos.

With a little knowledge of the tools available to you on iPhone apps, and a basic understanding of light, composition and framing, you can get the professional-looking shots you see on social media from portraits to nature photos. And since the high-quality resolution of the newer smartphones has been consistently rising, you can either print your photos or use them on social media.

Here’s some of the best tips I’ve found:

1. Edit Photos Right on Your Smartphone

For easy editing, explore the tools on Photos or Google Photos, or look into third-party apps like Adobe Photoshop Express.

2. Get Creative

Apps like Pixlr and Snapseed will let you edit and enhance your photos with professional-level tools and filters. VSCO: Photo and Video Editor is another creative app that has a good selection of filters to enhance your images. Each of these creative apps have a free version and offer a more professional version with more tools and features.

3. It’s Time for Your Close-up!

We all know the disappointment of trying to zoom into a subject by using two fingers on your screen to enlarge the image, only to find that the resolution looks, well, kind of blurry. To get around this, look for Apps like Manual Camera 4 which allows you to zoom into an image without distorting the resolution. Or, you can take the photo without zooming in, then crop the photo afterwards.

4. Prevent Camera Shake

A mini tripod is a great way to take timer photos as well as to minimize camera shake. But did you know that your iPhone volume up button acts as a shutter to help stabilize your iPhone while you take a picture?

5. Take Multiple Photos

Taking multiple photos of the same subject allows you to get that perfect shot. With multiple shots, you  can choose from different compositions, angles and light sources. And, don’t forget to look at your background and make sure that you don’t make the common mistake of having a plant appear to grow out of someone’s head!

6. Compose Photos Using a Unique View

Try taking photos in a new way rather than trying to center an image smack in the middle of your frame. For example, shooting architecture in Chicago from the ground looking up really makes those tall buildings stand out for a neck-craning “wow!” effect, and looking down from a bridge can give you an awesome vista.

7. Take Better Action Shots

Tap and hold down the shutter button to use Burst Mode: it will let you capture the action in10 fast photos in a series.

8. Minimize Dark Shadows

You know that saying that says something like “only mad dogs and fools go out into the midday sun?” Well, that goes for photography as well. The best time to get photos is early in the morning, on a cloudy day or in the “golden hour” between 4-5 pm in sunnier seasons, and between 3-4 pm in the winter. If you must shoot at high noon, try using the flash or use an editing app after you take your shot to rebalance light and shadows.

9. Keep It in Perspective

Moving the horizon line in a photo out of the center area or using the “rule of threes” by composing your image with the subject in one third of the image can really balance your image in a pleasing way. Depth and perspective can add interest as well. Try photographing bridges, train tracks, buildings or roads at an angle that disappears into the distance. Or to add depth, try composing an image that has a foreground image, a middle image and a background image.

10. Use HDR to Balance Light and Dark Areas

The HDR feature allow you to adjust light and dark areas in your image by taking 3 shots at different exposures and combining them. (This tool is best used for landscapes, still lives and static images, and not action shots.)

The best way to capture those special shots is to always have your camera with you–and that’s easier than ever before with the iPhone that is right in your pocket! Let us know how your photos come out, we would love to see them.

The media lab is available for individual virtual sessions! You can fill out the form at lakeforestlibrary.org/techhelp to sign up for a 30-minute appointment. Or, give us a shout at MediaLab@lakeforestlibrary.org.