Ultimate guide to iPhone photography

Ultimate guide to iPhone photography

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iPhone photography has exploded in recent years. 

Like many other smartphones, the iPhone has become essential in our lives. 

But the iPhone is special—it is the photographer’s phone

This is not surprising because, as a smartphone camera, the iPhone has an undeniable quality and performance. 

You can create 3d photos, film music videos, and even record full-feature films. You can use the iPhone to take pictures of the moon and the stars, apply a slow-motion effect to a video of a dancing toddler, or capture a looming angle of mountains.

And now, with the latest triple-camera iPhones, your creativity is the only limit.  

So, if you want to learn how to use an iPhone to take professional photos, you’re in the right direction.  

In this straightforward guide, we covered an extensive list of topics—from controlling your iPhone camera and taking tricky shots down to managing your iCloud. 

All the basics you need to learn about iPhone photography—we compiled it all right here.  

iPhone 11 Pro - iphone photography
iPhone 11 Pro

Table of Contents

I. Controlling the iPhone camera

You can’t take awe-inspiring photos without mastering your tool—the iSight camera or your stock iPhone camera. Know the basic iPhone camera features and modes, and you can experiment as many iPhone photography techniques as you want. 

Screen overview

camera screenshot - iphone photography

Camera buttons

Here are the different camera buttons that you can see and use: 

  • Flash button. At the top part of the screen, you can see the flash button at the left. You can tap it to turn your camera flash on or off. You can also set it to Auto, which lets your iPhone camera software decide when to use the flash.
  • Chevron button. Next to the flash button is the arrow-shaped button. Tap it to change the flash settings, set a timer, take Live Photos, and more.
  • Live Photos button. Besides the arrow button is the Live Photos. Tapping this button will let you take Live Photos, which are photos and videos in one. 
  • Shutter button. Below your camera screen is the round shutter button. Tap this to take photos. You can also long-press it to record videos. To take burst photos, press and drag the shutter button to the left.
  • Photos button. To view your previous photo, tap the button on the left side of the shutter button. 
  • Switch between the cameras button. To switch between the rear camera and front-facing camera, tap the button at the right side of the shutter button.

Camera modes

On your camera, you can also use different shooting modes for iPhone photography.

  • Photo. This is the mode for taking still pictures and Live Photos.
  • Portrait. Use this to take close-up photos of a person, a pet, a kid, or a small object. This will let the camera instantly keep its sharp focus on any subject, blurring its background or foreground. 
  • Video. Swipe to this mode to record a video. You can also snap a quick photo while you’re recording a video by tapping the shutter button. 
  • Square. Use this mode to capture square photos, which is ideal for social media sites like Instagram or Facebook.
  • Pano. This mode lets you capture a panoramic photo, a wide-angle mode best used for landscape photos or group photos in concerts or parties. 
  • Slo-mo. Use this camera mode to make a moment last longer. You will record the video at normal speed, but your camera will render it into a slow mode after you save it.
  • Timelapse. This will speed up your video. Use it to show the progress that typically takes a long time. For example, you can take a timelapse of a makeup transformation or designing a cake. 

iPhone camera controls

Don’t have an extra hand around to help you capture photos? You can use your camera’s touch and physical controls to make picture-taking easier. 

  • Access the hidden toolbar. Tap the chevron icon on the top of the camera to access the filters, the timer feature, the 4:3 frame button, flash settings, HDR options, and the Live Photos mode.
  • Use your Volume Up or Volume Down button to capture a photo. To prevent a shaky motion when tapping the shutter button, use your volume buttons instead. 
  • Switch between your two or three lenses. If you have a dual or triple-camera iPhone, you can switch between them by tapping the zoom icons above the shutter button. Tap 0.5x to use the Ultra-Wide lens, 1x for the Wide lens, and 2x for the Telephoto lens. 
  • Make sure you can use Night Mode. If you own an iPhone 11 or later model, use the Wide lens or Telephoto lens to use the Night Mode. Your iPhone camera software will automatically turn on Night Mode if it detects a low amount of light. Night Mode doesn’t work in the Ultra-Wide lens.
  • Activate the Night Mode. On your camera, you will see that the Night Mode is available to use when a white moon icon appears on the top of the camera, beside the flash icon. However, this isn’t activated yet. Tap it so that it will turn yellow and activate. 

iPhone Camera settings

To achieve better, more compelling iPhone photography, you must also master these camera settings. 

1. Preserve your camera settings. 

Preserving your settings will help you save your favorite filters and preferred exposure levels. This will come in handy when you want to set a theme for taking pictures and don’t have time for editing a set of photos.

To preserve your camera settings, Go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings. Choose between Camera Mode, which will allow you to save the previous mode (if you were taking a photo with Square mode, taking Live Photos with Live Photo mode, or filming a video with Video mode). You can also save the previous filter by toggling Filter.

2. Enable or disable geotagging on your iPhone photos. 

You can turn geotagging on or off, depending on your preferences. If you travel a lot, you may turn this on to have an easier time remembering the exact location of your photos. But for safety reasons, we suggest you learn how to disable it as well.  

To enable or disable geotagging, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Camera. Select While Using the App. To disable it, just toggle it again. 

3. Display the grid lines. 

The grid lines will help you capture a photo that follows the rules of thirds. Ideally, your subject should be positioned at the intersection of two lines in the camera grid. This will improve your photo’s composition. To display your camera grid, go to Settings > Camera and then toggle Grid. 

4. Mute your camera’s shutter noise. 

While there’s no way to mute your camera’s shutter noise permanently, you can mute it temporarily by toggling the silent switch on the side of the iPhone. You can also turn it off by lowering your volume.

II. Exposure in iPhone photography

long exposure photo of river - iphone photography
Long exposure photo of a river.

Making sure your subjects are properly exposed is the key to good composition. If you own a later iPhone model or updated to iOS 14, good on you. With the new camera updates, it’s now easier to lock and adjust the exposure compensation value on your iPhone camera. 

On the other hand, if you have an older model, that’s okay—we’ll give you some tips on managing it. 

Adjusting the exposure on the iPhone camera

Previously on iOS 13, the iPhone camera locked the focus and exposure together. But with iOS 14, you can now lock them separately, making it ideal for iPhone photography. This new feature is called exposure compensation value (ECV) control.

How to adjust the exposure on iOS 14 camera

If you have an iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, or iPhone XR, you can adjust your exposure through these steps: 

  1. Open your camera app. 
  2. Swipe up the chevron icon to show your camera’s hidden controls.
  3. Next, tap on the “+/-” button to open the new ECV control.
  4. Drag the horizontal ECV slider to change the shutter speed and f-stop.

How to adjust the exposure on older iOS versions 

On the other hand, if you do own an older iPhone model, you can adjust the exposure through these steps:

  1. Open your camera app. 
  2. Tap on the area you want to focus on and expose. 
  3. Hold on to that area’s focal point until the AE/AF Lock icon appears at the top of the screen.
  4. Tap the shutter button.
  5. To unlock the focus and exposure, tap anywhere on the screen.

Tips on how to manage exposure on older iPhone or iOS

Since you can’t lock the exposure and focus separately on an older iPhone, you can follow these tips instead to improve your photo’s exposure. 

  • Don’t be afraid to play with shadows. You don’t always have to expose the dark areas; instead, focus on the brightest area in your photo, so its details will come out clearer. Let the shadowy areas do their part in providing contrast to the photo. 
  • Increase the exposure diligently when you want the background to complement a subject. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a dog with a dark coating in a garden, make sure to increase the exposure so that the trees and plants will complement his appearance.
  • Use third-party manual camera apps like Halide or Pro Camera. These apps will let you lock the exposure and focus separately. 

The iPhone camera lenses

iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro

Adjusting your exposure is indeed crucial in iPhone photography, but it’s not enough. You also have to tweak your camera’s aperture and ISO. Sadly, this is not possible in your stock camera app. That’s why iPhone photographers use third-party iOS camera apps like Camera+ when they want to adjust the camera settings manually. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can never take professional-grade photos using your iPhone’s stock camera app. Your iPhone’s camera lenses have their own strengths—get to know each of the cameras and know when to use the right ones. 

Front camera lens 

The models before iPhone X had 7mp front cameras with Retina Flash. They also had True Tone flash with Slow Sync. These front cameras are great for selfies but lack the intelligence and ability to capture photos with depth properly. 

TrueDepth camera lens

The iPhone X and later models had the TrueDepth camera lens, which replaced the old front cameras. This newer camera is better and more intelligent than the previous front camera. It allows users to take photos with a portrait effect, which means a photo can instantly have a better bokeh appearance. You can also take photos with portrait effect on iPhone 8 Plus. 

Wide lens 

The rear camera on iPhones is a 12mp wide lens, with an f1. 8 aperture and the focal length of 26mm. It also has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which helps your camera take clear photos even when held in a shaky motion. This camera lets you capture a typical photo that would benefit from a wide-angle—for example, a group photo or an eye-level photo of a school building.  

Telephoto lens 

The telephoto lens is available in the dual-camera iPhone models, iPhone 11 series, and iPhone 12 series. This camera’s 2x optical zoom feature lets you take close-up photos without moving your iPhone closer to the subjects. When you zoom in further than 2x, your camera will use digital zoom, which has poorer quality than your telephoto camera’s optical zoom. 

Ultra-Wide lens

The Ultra-Wide camera lens lets you take photos with a 4x wider field of view (FOV) than the Wide camera. This camera doesn’t have the OIS, so you can take better, clearer pictures if you use an iPhone tripod. If you’re taking photos of landscapes, crowds, or skyscrapers, use this camera.

How to use the Wide, Telephoto, or Ultra-Wide camera

  1. Open your camera app. 
  2. Swipe to Photo mode. 
  3. To use the Wide camera, swipe to the 1x icon. Swipe to the .5x to use the Ultra-Wide camera and 2x to use the Telephoto camera. 

III. Composition in iPhone photography

colorful small bird on a branch - iphone photography
A well-compositioned photo of an exotic bird.

Ever noticed a photo that didn’t have any fancy filter or interesting subject but still looked great? Chances are, it had a great composition. Below, we talked about the basic compositional rules, how to display your camera grid, aspect ratios, and lines and patterns. 

Compositional rules in iPhone photography

To capture a photo with great composition, remember these rules: 

  1. Understand the rule of thirds (ROT). The ROT is the most basic but fundamental compositional rule in iPhone photography. You should use it to make your photo look more balanced. According to the ROT, your subject should be positioned where the four grid lines cross. 
  2. Know when to use the ROT. It’s not enough to understand the purpose of the ROT; you should also weigh properly if it’s right to use it on a scene. You see, you don’t always have to use this in iPhone photography, especially if it doesn’t make sense (ex. Landscape photos.) So, use it sparingly in photos such as a medium shot of a person or a pet.  
  3. Avoid clutter if you can. Choose a background with less disorder, so the viewer’s eyes can focus easily on the subject and on the message you’re trying to depict through your photograph. If you can’t move elsewhere, just fill the frame with your subject. 
  4. Look for frames. When you’re taking photos around structures like bridges or walkways, use them to frame a scene. This will add symmetry to your photo, making it more pleasing to the eye. 
  5. Use a leading line. A leading line is any natural line you can find in the scene. This guides the eye in focusing on the subject. For example, a floor pattern with vertical lines should lead to a single focal point in which the subject is located. 
  6. Capture with depth. A photo with a background, middle ground, and foreground will look more interesting. For example, a photo of the city streets at night sure does look cool. However, it will tell a story if you include a subject (a person) and the wet road because of the rain. 
This is a good example of framing the subject.

How to display the composition grid on iPhone 

  1. Open your Settings
  2. Go to Photos & Camera.
  3. Under Preserve Settings, toggle the Grid button. 

Aspect ratios

Besides following the composition rules, a great photo also has the right aspect ratio. Additionally, changing your photo’s aspect ratio will make it more suitable for certain social media sites. For example, a 1:1 photo is best for Instagram. 

In the models before iPhone 11, you can only change the aspect ratio in the Photos app by editing the photo. However, in the iPhone 11 and later models, you can now change the aspect ratio in the camera app. 

How to change the aspect ratio on camera

  1. Open your camera app. 
  2. Tap the chevron icon. 
  3. Next, tap the 4:3 button above the shutter button. 
  4. The iPhone camera will let you choose between square, 4:3, and 16:9 icons. Square (1:1) is best for social media sites like Instagram. 16:9 is best for landscape photos or videos. Meanwhile, 4:3 is the default aspect ratio, which is ideal for intimate photos. 
  5. Tap your desired aspect ratio. 
  6. Now, tap the shutter button to capture your photo. 
  7. If you want to change the aspect ratio, you can edit it on your Photos app. 

How to edit the aspect ratio on the Photos app

  1. Open your photo on the Photos app. 
  2. Tap Edit on the top right corner of your screen.
  3. Next, tap on the Crop button at the bottom of your screen.
  4. Tap the Aspect Ratio button at the top right corner, beside the button with the three dots.
  5. Select your desired ratio (Original, Freeform, Square, 9:16, 8:10, 5:7, 3:4, 3:5, or 2:3.)
  6. Tap Done at the bottom right corner of your screen. 

Lines and patterns

Another great way to capture well-composed photos is to use lines and patterns. For example, you can look for vertical, horizontal, irregular, or diagonal lines. You can also capture patterns—even a broken one, to make things more interesting. Use lines and patterns in your iPhone photography to get benefits like: 

  • Bringing balance. 
  • Expressing movement. 
  • Guiding the viewer’s eyes.
  • Adding symmetry to a landscape photo. 
  • Highlighting the relationship between the foreground and the background. 

IV. Focus

asian woman talking on the phone

A strong photo has depth. It helps the viewer pay attention to the right subject, making them clearly understand what the photo is trying to tell them. In the next sections, you will learn how to use, lock, and edit the focus on your iPhone photos. 

Using the focus on the iPhone camera

There are two ways to use focus in iPhone photography: by controlling the focus manually on the camera and by using the Portrait Effect. 

How to lock the focus on iPhone camera

  1. Open your camera. 
  2. Tap and hold on that part of the screen for a few seconds. 
  3. When the AE/AF Lock icon in a yellow box appears at the top of the screen, release your finger. The AE/AF Lock is now active, therefore the focus is locked on that part of the scene.
  4. Tap the shutter button to capture your photo.

How to use the Portrait Effect on iPhone camera

The Portrait Effect is available in iPhone 8 Plus and later models. Use this mode to apply a beautiful bokeh effect to your iPhone photography.

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Swipe to Portrait mode.
  3. Make sure you’re not too close to your subject. Ideally, your camera should be positioned 19 inches away from your subject.
  4. Once the Portrait mode is ready, the lighting effect (ex. Natural Light) turns yellow.
  5. Tap the Shutter button to capture your portrait.

How to edit Portrait Mode photos on iPhone 

On your Photos app, you can change the lighting effects of your Portrait Mode photo. Here’s how to edit it: 

  1. Open your Photos app.
  2. Tap on your Portrait Mode photo.
  3. Next, tap Edit.
  4. Tap the 3d box at the bottom of your screen. 
  5. Drag the dial to choose your desired lighting effect. You can choose from Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, or High-Key Light Mono.
  6. If you want to adjust the intensity of the lighting effect, drag the slider below the lighting effect dial. 
  7. Tap Done. 
  8. If you want to remove the lighting effect, tap Edit and then Revert
  9. Meanwhile, to remove the Portrait Mode effect, tap Portrait at the top of the screen. This means a portrait will not have a bokeh effect anymore. Both the background and foreground will now be in sharp focus. 

V. Light in iPhone photography

woman drinking coffee in the morning

The right lighting can level up your photo from 0 to 100. Sadly, you can’t always find places with good lighting. So, when practicing your iPhone photography, you have to learn how to use your iPhone camera in different lighting situations. Follow our tips below, so you can get the most out of your iPhone—whenever or wherever you take photos. 

Hard light vs. soft light

When you take pictures in hard light, your subject will cast distinct, obvious shadows. For example, if you take a picture of a kid on a sunny day with the sunlight beside him, his face will have hard-edged shadows. On the other hand, if you capture him in soft light, his face will have less obvious shadows. His photo will have a softer appearance. 

Hard light isn’t always an ideal light source, especially for portraits, since they are unflattering. However, it does work well if you want to add drama and mystery. If you can’t avoid hard light, just increase your iPhone camera’s exposure. By doing this, the shadows will have softer edges. 

Light directions

group pic on mountain, backlight
An example of backlight direction.

Different directions portray different emotions in your subject. Be mindful of your light source’s direction so that you can depict the right emotion of your subject. 

  • Sidelight. This direction will give your subject mystery and depth. A majority of their features will be concealed, as the light source comes from either their left or right side. Using this directional light is ideal for photos that evoke intrigue, such as drama or mystery movie posters. 
  • Downward light. Like the sidelight direction, the downward light direction gives your subject depth. However, it also helps portray the subject’s dominance or discontent. If you want the viewer to take your subject seriously, use downward light. 
  • Upward light. Meanwhile, this awkward lighting direction will trigger fear or surprise in the viewer. To apply this effect, you have to position your light source under your subject’s face. Upward light direction is best used in horror-themed photos. 
  • Front light. In this light direction, the subject is properly exposed since the light source is in front of them. Their features will be clearer to the viewer, and their shadows will be less obvious. Front light direction is best suited for formal studio portraits or eCommerce products because it gives off an objective appearance. 
  • Backlight. The backlight direction will either make your subject a silhouette or let them portray a neutral emotion. This light direction is well-suited for lighthearted photo subjects such as a small young family or a group of teenage friends. 

Shooting in sunlight

woman running up the stairs - iphone photography

To capture a proper photo in sunlight, make sure that it’s well-exposed. This will avoid the sharp contrast because of the harsh light. When using an iPhone to take photos in sunlight, remember these tips:

  • If you’re taking photos in an open space with little to no structure, adjust the brightness by decreasing the exposure. Lock the exposure as well if you’re taking multiple photos. 
  • Ask your subject to position beside the sunlight. This can soften the shadows and make the photo look more interesting. 
  • If you’re taking a photo of a dark subject such as a dog with a black coating, use the sunlight to create rim lighting. This will help them stand out in the background.  
  • Use the sunlight as a backlight for subjects with translucent materials. This will reveal interesting details in the subject. For example, if your subject is wearing a chiffon gown, use the sunlight as a backlight to highlight the gown’s details. Of course, besides the sunlight, there should be a front light as well, so your subject will be exposed properly. 
  • Creating a silhouette is ideal during the golden hours or blue hours. The subject’s shadow will have a sharp contrast against the gorgeous mix of colors in the sky. The golden hours are the first hours before and after the sunrise; meanwhile, the blue hours are the first hours before and after the sunset. 

Locating places with great lighting 

Finding locations with great lighting is crucial in iPhone photography. However, you don’t always have to invest in a complete lighting equipment kit or go to far places to take great pictures. Try out these locations before you buy a ticket to Greece. 

  • Nearby areas with a lot of shrubs, flowers, and trees. These areas will give you a lot of komorebi, the Japanese term for sunlight filtering through the leaves. 
  • An open rooftop during the golden hours or blue hours. The buildings will add an interesting backdrop for your subject. This is a suitable location for fashion or portrait photoshoots. 
  • Near a wide, open window during the early morning hours. The natural light from 6 am to 8 am will be a flattering light source for portraits. Taking photos beside a window is beneficial since you can easily control the amount of light that enters the frame using blinds or curtains. You can also play with the horizontal shadows from the blinds. 
  • Old buildings or ruins. These are great places for taking pictures because they’re quiet and a lot of natural light can enter through the openings. These areas are suitable for photoshoots with ethereal, mystery, or fantasy themes. 
  • Tourist spots. It can be easy to take interesting photos in tourist spots because you will be surrounded by artifacts, structures, statues, and many other attractions. However, one caveat of taking photos in tourist spots is the crowds. You may have to go earlier, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet while taking photos. 

Using your iPhone camera flash

Using your iPhone’s LED flash for taking photos can be tricky, regardless of the model you own. The key to getting the most out of your camera flash is knowing when and where to use it. Remember these tips if you want to use your flash wisely: 

  • To diffuse your iPhone camera’s flash, tape a small piece of tissue paper over it. 
  • Avoid the flash when you’re taking selfies. Instead, use your flash for taking portraits of other people. If you want to take a selfie and use the flash, buy a remote shutter button, secure your iPhone on a tripod, and set a timer. 
  • Turn on the flash when you’re capturing the hard copies of your documents unless they’re made of glossy paper. 
  • Always use your flash when you’re taking photos of products, especially if you’re going to upload them on an eCommerce site. 
  • If you’re taking a picture in a gloomy room with a dim light source, use the flash to illuminate it more.
  • Use an off-camera flash for iPhones to capture professional photos in events like weddings. Profoto Camera, for example, is an iOS app that lets you control off-camera flash devices like the Profoto C1 and C1 Plus. 

VI. HDR

HDR photo of city by the water at sunset - iphone photography
The HDR effect brilliantly exposes the dark elements in the photo.

The High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a useful feature for capturing compelling iPhone photography. On your iPhone, you can use the HDR feature on your camera app when you’re working with a scene that’s too bright or too dark. To use HDR effectively, know its function and when to use it. 

What is HDR?

A photo with a high dynamic range means it has a lot of dark elements and light elements. Sometimes, a smartphone camera can’t portray all the details in those dark and light areas accurately—unless you use HDR. 

Using HDR allows your iPhone camera’s software to take overexposed, underexposed, and accurately exposed images simultaneously. It then combines those photos into a single, well-exposed photo. This is now your HDR photo. 

When to use HDR

  • Taking photos in settings with harsh light (ex. beach photos, mid-day portraits, etc.
  • Low-light situations (ex. Gloomy room with little to no artificial lighting or natural lighting)
  • Night photography. HDR helps bring out interesting details in photos of city streets at night, fireworks, stars, star trails, etc.
  • Photos where the subject is under a structure. If a subject is positioned under a bridge or inside a gazebo, we suggest you use HDR to take their photo. This will make sure your subject is well-exposed despite the shadow. 
  • Overexposed landscape photos. To avoid overexposure because of the bright sky or snowy background, use HDR. It will decrease the exposure, making the details clear in your photos. 
  • High contrast photos. Sometimes, you will take photos where the subject is in sharp contrast to the background. That means the subject might stand out a little too much in the background that it looks incoherent. Using HDR will bring balance to your photos by exposing the details in the darker areas properly. 

How to turn on HDR

  1. Open your Settings app. 
  2. Tap Camera.
  3. Toggle the slider for Smart HDR to deactivate it. Turning off the Smart HDR button will prevent the iPhone camera app from activating the HDR on its own. That means only you can now decide if you should use HDR or not. 
  4. Close the Settings app.
  5. Open your Camera.
  6. At the top part of your screen, you will now see the HDR icon. Tap it to activate it. 

VII. Panoramas 

panorama photo of couple in the ocean
A panoramic photo highlights the scenic view behind this couple.

Imagine that you are in front of a magnificent view and you want to capture the moment, only to find out that you can’t fit everything in a single photo. In such cases, panorama photos are your solution. 

Unlike before, wherein only tech-savvy photographers knew how to do it, taking panorama photos nowadays has never been easier with the iPhone. You no longer have to edit photos on your computer just to possibly fit the whole scene. 

Below is a thorough discussion of everything you have to know about panorama photos on your iPhone. 

What is a Panoramic Photo?

Basically, a panoramic photo is much wider compared to regular photos. When you are taking scenes that are too wide or too high to fit in your camera’s field of view, use the Panorama mode. 

You can create a panoramic photo by taking several photos of the scene from a single viewpoint, and then stitch it together into one larger photo. But if you have an iPhone, then you don’t have to go through this complicated process. You can just swipe to the Pano mode on your camera, and off you go. 

How to Shoot a Panorama on the iPhone

panorama pic of garden and lake - iphone photography

While there are a lot of panoramic apps that you can download from the App Store, the Panoramic feature of your iPhone’s camera actually does a good job. Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can capture a panoramic photo using your iPhone’s native camera app. 

1. Open the Camera App and Go to Pano Mode

Open your iPhone’s native camera app then look for the Pano mode by swiping through the different shooting modes. 

2. Do a Test Shot

Doing a test shot will help you plan how you want your panoramic photos to look. When creating a horizontal panorama, hold the camera upright in portrait orientation.

After you have placed your camera at the right level, pan it out from left to right or right to left across your scene. Consider where you want your panoramic photo to begin and end in order to get the perfect shot. If possible, begin and end it with interesting details. 

3. Lock Exposure

Setting the exposure correctly is crucial when shooting panoramic photos. Your iPhone’s native camera will automatically adjust the exposure based on how light or dark is the starting point of the panoramic shot. 

If your starting point is lighter or darker than the other parts of the scene, then some parts of the panorama will be over or under-exposed. So, the best thing to do is to start shooting in an area of the scene with medium brightness.

Once you find that area, lock the exposure so that your entire panoramic photo will have the same exposure. 

4. Set the Panning Direction

You can shoot your panoramic photo from left to right or right to left. If you want to shoot from left to right, make sure that the arrow is pointed to the right. If the arrow is pointed in the wrong direction, just tap it to switch the other way. 

5. Shoot Your Panorama

Once you are ready to capture a panoramic photo, point your iPhone at the starting point then press the shutter button to start shooting. 

Slowly, pan your iPhone until you reach the end position. Ensure that you do not stop moving and the arrow remains on the displayed line. 

When you go too fast or if you deviate too far from the line, your iPhone will tell you about it. In such cases, simply follow the instructions flashed on your screen. 

After reaching the endpoint, reverse the panning direction by moving your camera back a short way in the opposite direction or press the shutter button again to stop shooting. 

Tips for Getting the Best Panoramas with Your iPhone

Keep Your Camera Steady

If it isn’t obvious yet, keeping your camera steady is very important when shooting panoramas. Your iPhone’s camera is actually good at hand-held panoramic photography, but if you can’t keep it steady enough to keep that arrow on the line, this is where a tripod becomes handy. 

If you use a tripod, always make sure that isn’t locked up too tightly so that you rotate and pan freely. 

Try Getting Vertical Panoramic Photos

This might sound unconventional, but yes, panoramas don’t have to be horizontal all the time, they can be vertical too. To shoot a vertical panoramic photo, simply rotate your iPhone horizontally (landscape orientation) and pan vertically—from high to low or low to high. 

Avoid Moving Objects

Your phone takes several photos and stitches them together when taking panoramic shots. If you include moving objects, they will appear distorted and elongated in the photo. 

So, as much as possible, avoid shooting in crowded places. 

Troubleshooting Perspective Errors

Gaps or Steps on the Image

The gaps or steps on your panoramic photo could be because you moved too fast and the camera wasn’t able to capture the entire scene. What you can do here is to reshoot and move your camera slower this time. 

Ghosting

The ghost-like figure that appears on your panoramic photo is due to the different movements while you are shooting. To avoid these ghost-like figures, shoot still subjects only and keep your camera as stable as possible. 

Odd Image Shapes

Panorama can capture scenes that can even be wider than what your eyes can see at once. With this, perspective errors where straight lines appear to tilt are seen in the photos. The solution to such an error is to move farther away from objects that are farther from the camera. 

VII. Time-lapse

Time-lapse is another great feature of your iPhone’s camera that you can use to capture epic photos. 

Time-lapse is the photography technique that involves taking a series of photos at different intervals to record changes that take place slowly over time. The images are then put together to compress hours’ or days’ worth of footage into just a few seconds.

Great Time Lapse Subjects

Anything that moves is a great time-lapse subject, but some things that work better with it. Its sped up nature can reveal details that you can barely see with your naked eyes. 

Some of the best time-lapse subjects are the following:

  • Plants growing
  • Opening of flowers
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Process of painting
  • Landscapes and Celestial Motion
  • Evolution of a construction project
  • Busy scenes (people walking, children running, rush-hour traffic)

Troubleshooting Time-Lapse Setting

The time-lapse feature of the iPhone’s native camera is very simple and it does everything automatically. With just a tap of the finger, your iPhone will already start taking photos every few seconds. 

Once you stop recording, your device will automatically stitch the photos together in a video. But if you want to take more stunning time-lapse shots, then you’ll need to have more control over it. 

Here are some of the things you can do when shooting time-lapse photos:

  • Time Lapse Loading Issues – If your time-lapse takes time to load, what you can do is to restart your iPhone and ensure that your software is updated to iOS 12.1.4. If this doesn’t still work, then try resetting your iPhone. 
  • Setting the Time Lapse Speed – Unluckily, you can’t do anything about this directly on your iPhone. If you want to change the time-lapse, you’ll have to download third-party apps first that allow you to do so. 
  • Setting the Focus and Adjusting the Exposure – Setting the focus of your iPhone camera when taking time-lapse photos is very simple and is no different when doing it with the normal camera. You just have to tap the screen to set the focus. 

When it comes to adjusting the exposure, all it takes is a swipe up or down. If you want to lock both the focus and exposure, just tap and hold the screen until the AE/AF Lock appears. 

IX. Video

Your iPhone camera is actually powerful enough to make professional-looking videos. Besides, some vloggers even use their iPhones when shooting their vlogs. 

Your iPhone camera can shoot high definition videos up to 1920×1080 pixels and 30 frames-per-second. With this, you have smooth, clear full-motion videos that you can use anywhere. 

iPhone Video Controls

Shooting astonishing videos with your iPhone has never been this easy. Here’s how you can navigate it:

  • To start recording a video, open your Camera, then slide to Video. Press the red button to start recording and tap it again to stop recording. Your video will be automatically saved to your Camera Roll.
  • To change your iPhone video resolution settings, go to Settings > Camera, choose from either Record Video or Record Slow-mo, and select your preferred resolution from the options. 
  • To zoom in or zoom out, click on the numbers located on the screen, just above “VIDEO.” You can choose from .5, 1, and 2x. 
  • To set the focus and adjust the exposure, tap on the area where you want your iPhone camera to focus. Then, swipe up and down to adjust to exposure. To lock both the focus and exposure, long-press until you can see the AE/AF Lock on the screen. 

Slow-mo Videos

Slow-mo videos are an amazing way to add a little bit of action into your shots. Luckily, your iPhone camera can do it without hassle. When shooting slow-mo videos, basically, you are slowing down the frame rate so that time appears to be moving at a slower rate within the video. 

Your iPhone’s normal viewing speed is 60 frames per second and you change it to 120 FPS when taking slow-mo videos. This is half of the normal viewing speed. If you own iPhone 8 or up, you can change it up to 240 FPS. 

To shoot a slow-mo video on your iPhone, simply follow these steps:

  1. Open your iPhone’s Camera app.
  2. Turn on the slow-mo features by tapping “Slo-mo.” 
  3. Click on the red record button to start recording. 
  4. Tap one more time to stop recording.
  5. Head to the Photos app to playback your slow-motion video.

Editing Videos

With your iPhone, you can now directly edit your videos. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Photos app and tap the video that you want to edit.
  2. Tap Edit.
  3. Make the changes that you want to do, such as trimming your video, adding filters, sounds, etc.
  4. Tap Done, then tap Save Video or Save Video as New Clip.

X. Advanced iPhone Photography

As mentioned above, your iPhone camera is powerful enough to capture stunning iPhone photography. Whatever your subject is, your iPhone can surely work it out. 

Taking Great Portraits

a portrait of an indian woman wearing eyeglasses
The Portrait Mode on your iPhone makes it easier to take portraits of any subject.

When taking photos in Portrait Mode, your iPhone camera creates a depth-of-field effect, which lets you capture photos with a sharp focus on the subject and a blurred background. 

To use the Portrait Mode, open the Camera App then swipe to Portrait Mode. Once you are in portrait mode already, you can choose the lighting that you want. 

What is great about your iPhone camera is that it lets you know when you’re too close, too far away, or if the area is too dark. 

Taking Photos of Pets

Whether you want a professional shot for your pet or just a random photo that you want to post on social media, your iPhone’s camera got your back. 

When taking photos of your pet, always make sure that your lighting is good enough – not too harsh and not too soft. So ideally, you should do it early in the morning or late afternoon. 

Also, always lock the focus and exposure, since pets tend to move around. You can use the portrait mode too if you want to add depth to your photos. 

Taking Pictures of Kids

The innocence of the kids is something that every photographer loves. And yes, your iPhone can exactly do the job for you. 

Taking a kid’s picture is so, but how do you take one that is stunning? Compelling compositions is the answer. 

When we say compelling compositions, you can simply start with the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is all about placing the main elements of your photo along the grid lines. Your iPhone camera has a Grid option, so all you have to do is turn it on in the settings. 

Always remember that when shooting pictures of kids, portray who they really are—playful, innocent, and candid.

Taking Great Landscapes

When taking landscape photos with your iPhone, always include a focal point. This could be an airplane in the sky, a baby playing on the shore, an animal walking, or a person standing against the setting sun.

Also, the composition is still imperative to make your shots more in-depth and interesting. You can also use the HDR mode of your iPhone’s camera to combine multiple distinctly exposed photos into one image to perfectly expose the lights and shadows.

XI. Troubleshooting Tricky Shoots

In iPhone photography, you will encounter scenes that can be complicated to shoot or edit. But there’s nothing that you can’t fix as long as you know your camera really well. Here are some of the common problems that you may encounter when taking photos with your iPhone:

Low Light iPhone photography

night photo of hot air balloon and night sky full of stars
Take beautiful night photos with your iPhone.

Here are some of the things that you can do to fix low light photography:

  • Use a slow shutter speed – A slower shutter speed helps you and the longer the shutter will close, the more light will be gathered to the sensor.
  • Use Flash – Use the flash sparingly. The flash isn’t suitable for all scenes and you might just end up getting it wrong with lighting.
  • Don’t Zoom – It’s never recommended to zoom in when taking photos and videos, even when in low light scenes. You can just crop it afterward, not unless you want a blurry or grainy shot.
  • Use HDR – Using the HDR feature of your iPhone will help you capture details that the normal mode can’t do.

Lens Flare in iPhone photography

Lens Flare is common when using smartphone cameras. In case you are experiencing this, here’s what you can do:

  • Clean the External Lens – There might be water droplets or moisture in your camera lens that cause a flare, so might as well check it and clean it out. Use a microfiber cloth so that the lens won’t be damaged.
  • Check Out the Lights – Knowing where to exactly position your iPhone will lessen the occurrence of lens flare. 
  • Update iOS to the Latest Version – Sometimes, a lens flare could either be because of a software or hardware issue. If it’s a hardware problem, then you might need to have your phone checked. But if it’s a software problem, you can troubleshoot it yourself but by restarting your phone, resetting it, or updating it.

Shooting in Harsh Sunlight

Shooting under the scorching sun is inevitable, especially if you’re an events photographer. As a result, your photos appear too bright. To fix problems caused by the harsh sun, try out the following:

  • Underexpose Your Images – The most important thing to keep in mind when shooting under the sun is exposure. Specifically, you should set your exposure lower so that it will maintain proper exposure for people’s skin.
  • Use Backlighting – Backlighting refers to any situation where your subject is lit from behind. Using backlighting is helpful when shooting under the harsh sun since it can create an attractive glow, known as rim lighting, around the subject. 

Must-Read: How to Photograph Lightning with iPhone

Moving Subjects

Here are some things that you can do to capture photos of moving objects:

  • When there is enough light in the scene, your iPhone’s camera uses a fast shutter speed, which freezes the movement of your subject.
  • Shooting in lowlight blurs the motion of your subject since your iPhone’s camera uses a slower shutter speed.
  • Use a dedicated slow shutter app to create long exposure photos of light trails or flowing water. 
  • Capture a series of shots in quick succession with the burst mode. 
  • Since your subject is moving, start shooting in burst mode a few seconds before it appears in the frame.

XII. iPhone Photography Accessories

clip-on iPhone lens

Although your iPhone’s camera is already powerful, adding accessories to it will make it even more impressive. Here are some of the must-have camera accessories for iPhone photography:

Clip-on Lenses

If you want to get more out of your iPhone’s camera, a clip-on lens can do the trick for you. Clip-on lenses can help you take pictures from longer distances. These lenses can also let you capture fisheye, wide-angle, and macro photos. Clip-on lenses are light, portable, and inexpensive. Plus you can easily take them off. 

Gimbal/Stabilizer

Your iPhone’s camera actually does a good job when it comes to stability, but if you can’t hold it right, you will still capture shaky photos. So, just to be sure, use a gimbal or a stabilizer to capture clear and crisp photos. 

Ideally, you should choose a gimbal that you can easily rotate to have more access to the scene. This is helpful too when shooting landscape iPhone photography. 

If you can’t stabilize your hand, your photos will come out blurry. And for sure, you do not want that to happen, not when you’re aiming for spectacular iPhone photography. 

Flash

Although your iPhone’s camera comes with a built-in flash, there are times that this isn’t enough and you need a more powerful and more stable source of light. Besides, the flash of your iPhone’s camera is not used very often because of how it negatively affects the photos. 

Using an additional flash device helps you have more even lighting throughout the image. This also provides a cooler color temperature.

A flash device is very important too when shooting in low-light scenes. With this, you’ll be able to capture more details, making your photos look better. 

XIII. Editing

Aside from taking astonishing photos and professional videos, you can also edit straight from your iPhone. You can either use the built-in editor or download a third-party app. 

Using the Built-in Editor Feature

Editing with your iPhone is so easy and convenient. The process is pretty straightforward too, so you can play around as you want. 

Cropping and Straightening

Here’s how you can crop or straighten your photos:

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone.
  2. Choose the photo you would like to crop and tap it to open it.
  3. Tap Edit in the top right corner.
  4. Tap on the Crop button in the bottom menu.
  5. Adjust until you get the desired size. 
  6. To straighten your photo horizontally or vertically, tap on either Vertical or Horizontal.
  7. Adjust the slider until you are satisfied with the results.
  8. Tap Done to save your changes.

Adjusting Brightness, Color, and Black and White

adjusting-brightness

Here’s how you can crop or straighten your photos:

  1. Open the Photos app. 
  2. Choose the photo that you want to edit. 
  3. Tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  4. Click on the Auto- enhance. 
  5. Move the slider from to the left or right to adjust the color and brightness. 
  6. Click Done once you are satisfied with the result. 

Filters

adding-filter

Here’s how you can add filters to your photos:

  1. Open the Photos app. 
  2. Choose the photo that you want to edit. 
  3. Tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  4. Tap the Filters button in the bottom menu in the middle.
  5. Scroll, then tap on the filter you want to apply.
  6. Tap Done.

Best Editing Apps for iPhone photography

If you are not satisfied with your Photos app’s editor, you can always download third-party apps, such as the following:

zShot

The zShot app by Mafooly is one of the best free iOS apps for iPhone photography. Unlike other photo editing apps, zShot is powerful enough not just to edit photos and videos, but it can also create collages, scan documents, and make slideshows. Overall, zShot is an essential for budding iPhone photography enthusiasts and professionals.

Cut Paste Photos Pro

Cut Paste is a free, easy-to-use but professional editor for iPhone photography. With this app, you can do wonders in enhancing your photos with just minimal effort. You can crop your photos, add filters and effects, adjust the colors and brightness, and so much more. Cut Paste also makes it possible to remove backgrounds automatically.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express is a free photo editing app that can make quick, powerful, and easy photo edits. You can also create collages and apply instant filters. In addition, you can choose from an array of adjustment and correction options to touch up your photos, and instantly share them on social media.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a raw image processing app that combines the “raw engine” of Adobe Camera Raw and contains all of the organizational tools of Adobe Bridge. Adobe Lightroom is a combination of Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Bridge, and Photoshop. It’s one of the most pragmatic apps you could use for iPhone photography. 

Fotor

Fotor is a free online photo editor, which you can use in adding filters, texts, frames, stickers, and so much more. With it, you can also create amazing collages and professional-looking photos that you can boast about any time and anywhere. 

XIV. Managing Photos and Videos

Since you already know how to take beautiful photos, edit them, and such, now you should learn how to manage your photos and videos. Managing your photos and videos entail knowing how to view and organize them, how to use the iCloud, and how to share them online and offline. 

How to View your Photos

viewing-photos
  1. Tap the Photos app, and then tap the camera roll album or any other album that you want to access.
  2. Browse through the thumbnail images in the album until you find the picture or video you want to display.
  3. Tap the appropriate thumbnail.
  4. Tap the screen again.
  5. To make the controls disappear, tap the screen again.

Organizing Photos with Albums

organizing-photos
  1. Open the Photos app, then tap Select at the top right.
  2. Select all of the photos you want to add to a new album. 
  3. Tap the Share icon at the bottom left of the screen.
  4. Scroll down and tap Add To Album.
  5. Select either from your existing albums or create a new album.
  6. If you want to create a new album, type a name for the album.
  7. Tap Save to add the photos to the album.

Using iCloud

icloud

iCloud is a cloud-based service wherein you can save different information, ranging from email, contact, and calendar syncing, the location of lost devices, and the storage of music in the cloud. 

To set up your iCloud account, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings and sign in to your device with your Apple ID. Upon signing in, your iCloud will be automatically turned on. 
  2. Go to Settings, tap [your name], then select iCloud
  3. Choose Photos.
  4. Set up iCloud on your other devices to keep your content up to date everywhere.

Sharing Photos and Videos

There are different ways to share your photos and videos with your iPhone.  

Share Videos From The Photos App

  1. Open the photo or video that you want to share in the Photos app and tap the Share button.
  2. The top row of the Share Sheet shows your recent AirDrop and Messages contacts. 
  3. Tap the contact or app you want to share your video.

Share To Local Devices Using AirDrop

  1. Open the Photos app and choose the photo or video that you want to share.
  2. Tap the Share button, then select the AirDrop option in the second row.
  3. All the Apple devices within Bluetooth range that have AirDrop turned on will appear. 
  4. Tap the one you want to share your photo or video.

Upload Photos and Videos To A Shared Album In ICloud

  1. Open the Photos app and choose the photos or videos that you want to share. Select multiple photos and videos if you want.
  2. Tap the Share button, then choose to Add to Shared Album beneath the first two rows.
  3. Add a comment to your video in the pop up that will appear. 
  4. Choose a Shared Album or create a New Shared Album and pick who to share it with.

Final thoughts 

Anyone can learn iPhone photography, but not everyone is passionate about it. As a result, they don’t grow as a photographer. If you’re passionate about learning iPhone photography, stay on the lookout for our blog posts and courses. We’ll help you become a real pro in iPhone photography!

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