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How To Use The iPhone Camera For Better Photos

Take a look at these quick and easy to follow iPhone photography tutorials straight from Apple experts.

|  Apple iPhone 8 Plus in Camera Phones
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iPhone 8 Plus

More of us than ever before are using smartphones to capture portraits, landscapes, shots of the city and images with the theme of every other type of photography genre you can think of. 

This is partly down to convenience but also because the cameras inside smartphones have actually turned into tools photographers should be paying attention to. From the built-in portrait mode on the iPhone X that creates bokeh for you to the black and white lens built into Huawei's newest offerings, smartphone photography has come along way and now gives photographers tools to not only take photos but to be really creative with what and how they capture images, too. 

Of course, it's all good having the kit but if you don't know how to use it to its full potential, you're going to be missing out on the chance of capturing not just good, but great photos. 

Apple has realised this and as a result have put some straight-to-the-point tutorials together that, in not much time at all, explain how specific iPhone camera features work as well as composition advice and tips on working in mono. 

iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus users will benefit the most from the tutorials but that doesn't mean those with older iPhones shouldn't watch the tutorials as there are some which are more widely suited to the brand as a whole rather than specific iPhone devices. 

Each of the quick tutorials is shown below along with a little bit of text for those who find it easier to learn from written instruction. 

If you have any awesome iPhone photography tips, please do share them with us in the comments below and do add your iPhone images to our gallery. 

Use the below bullet points to navigate the article:


1. Composition & Framing Tips For The iPhone


How To Compose With The Telephoto Camera On An iPhone 


As well as getting closer to detail/subjects, the telephoto lens built into the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus can help you simplify your composition. To do this, open the native camera app and hit the 1x icon to switch to the telephoto lens, frame your shot and hit the shutter button - simple. 

How To Experiment With Framing On The iPhone 


As well as adding frames with the help of apps, you can look for and use shapes while you're out and about that you can use to frame your subject in-frame. Obvious frame choices are archways, fences, windows, door frames and bridges but there are other objects you can use to create frames that you may overlook. For example, branches from trees, a blurred line of leaves and tree trunks are all items you can use to create a frame. Simply, find your frame, position your subject and take your photo. 


iPhone 8 Plus camera


iPhone 8 Plus 1x lens and 2x lens

Left: 1x lens, Right: 2x (telephoto) lens

How To Shoot An Overhead Pattern On An iPhone

Shooting down on a symmetrical selection of cupcakes, arranging pool balls, flowers or any other brightly coloured objects so you can photograph them from above will result in an arty, colourful image. 

To help you perfect these types of shot, the iPhone is armed with a grid you can overlay on the screen to ensure all elements in the frame are lined up. This isn't switched on automatically so you'll have to find it in your iPhone camera settings. Next, open up the camera app and line-up your shot. Try to avoid places with strong overhead lighting as you'll end up with shadows or bright areas of the image spoiling the shot and line-up the crossheads in the middle of the grid to ensure the photo you're about to capture is level. You can then hit the shutter button to capture your image. Remember, Grid, Frame, Level and Shoot. 


Grid on the iPhone 8 Plus camera

How To Shoot A Horizon


Getting Horizons straight in your photos can be tricky but if you use the Grid mode built into the iPhone camera mode, it's much easier to shoot a horizon that's perfectly straight. The grid isn't switched on automatically so you'll have to find it in your iPhone camera settings. Then, open up the camera app and line-up your shot - simple. There's also an HDR mode to help your landscapes 'pop' which is switched on automatically on the iPhone X and 8 Plus but those with the iPhone 7 have to select 'HDR' from the top menu bar in the camera app. 


iPhone 8 Plus camera



How To Shoot A Close-Up on The iPhone


You can get pretty close to subjects with your iPhone, particularly with the ones that have dual lenses built in. To shoot a close-up it couldn't be easier, get close, tap to focus, adjust the exposure if you need to (by dragging the exposure slider) and hit the shutter button - simple. 


Hello Kitty



How To Shoot With Zoom On The iPhone

Newer iPhones give you the option of 1x and 2x optical zoom along with a digital zoom (but this one is, generally, best avoided) that allow you to get closer to subjects that are further away. To switch to the 2x optical zoom, simply hit the 1x button at the bottom of the screen and it will change to 2x. If you do want to use the digital zoom you can touch and hold the 1x button to 'scroll and zoom' or you can simply 'pinch click' the screen to zoom to where you want to.  

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Lens test image



Apple iPhone 8 Plus Lens test image




How To Capture Images In Bust Mode To Pick The Best Frame

If you're trying to capture moving objects, it can be tricky to get everything sharp in one frame and this is where burst mode comes in handy. Burst mode captures multiple frames so you can find that perfect split second to share. To use burst mode, simply hold down the shutter button and let go once you feel like you have captured enough frames. You can then flick through each frame to find the one you like the best. 


Burst mode on the iPhone



2. Black & White Or Colour Shots With The iPhone? 


How To Experiment With Colour


To make a more distinct photo that 'pops', you can adjust its levels. To do this, find a photo you want to edit, hit the 'edit' button, find the icon that looks a bit like a clock and select 'colour'. A slider will appear where you can increase the colour intensity or remove it completely. To use the slider, simply press it with your finger and move it left or right. Once you're happy, click 'done' and the image will be saved. 


iPhone Camera App


How To Shoot In Black & White On The iPhone


If you want to see how a scene will look in black & white before hitting the shutter, apply a filter and capture black & white images live. To do this, select the filter option top right of the screen and scroll right to the end of the list to find three black & white filters: Mono, Silvertone and Noir. If you prefer to play around with colour or make something look a little vintage, there are 9 digital filters in total to choose from.

For black and white, where there's a good amount of contrast between the subject and background will work well and you can also set the exposure level of the shot by clicking in different areas of the image to see how the light levels change the look/feel of the photo. You can then hit the shutter button to capture your mono-toned photo. 


iPhone 8 Plus camera app filters


How To Shoot A Bold & Simple Images On The iPhone 

This is actually applicable to whatever medium you're capturing your images in as contrasting colours and symmetry can create striking photos no matter if you've used an iPhone or an old film camera. The video tutorial was created for iPhone 7 users specifically in mind but you can use the advice when shooting with any iPhone and you need to start by seeking out colours that create contrast. Have a look around your town/city but don't shoot against cluttered backgrounds - keep it simple and if you can, use symmetry. Don't forget to adjust the exposure by clicking on different areas of the screen or dragging the exposure slider up (iPhone 7) and then hit the shutter button. 

The tutorial shows an outdoor example but you can find contrasting colours in the comfort of your home, too, like the blue ball on our red pool table. 


Pool ball


3. Portraits & Selfies On The iPhone 


How To Shoot A Perfect Selfie/Portrait On The iPhone 


The portrait modes, available on newer iPhone models, add an extra level of pro quality to shots as when enabled, portrait mode blurs the background to replicate the appearance of bokeh in your photos. There are several effects available on the iPhone X including Natural Light, Contour Light and Stage Light. The modes are also available on the iPhone 8 Plus but only as modes on the main camera so bokeh selfies aren't something that's as easily captured with the iPhone 8 Plus. 

For selfies, of course, you need to switch to the front-facing camera then you need to swipe to portrait mode, choose your lighting effect and hit the shutter button. Not all of the effects will work for every scene so a little trial and error are involved but that's what makes photography fun!

Those capturing images of other simply need to find the portrait mode, choose your lighting effect and hit the shutter button.


iPhone 8 Plus portrait mode


Stage Light Mono

How To Edit A Portrait/Selfies On The iPhone


If you capture a portrait or selfie (if using the iPhone X) in portrait mode then you can edit the lighting effect that's applied even after you've captured your image. To do so, Find the portrait/selfie you captured with the portrait mode, click edit and the portrait lighting effect options will be open to you. Choose the one you want to use and click 'done'. The image will then we saved, with the new effect applied, in your camera roll. 


Camera on the iPhone 8 Plus


Portrait captured with the iPhone 8 Plus


How To Shoot A Great Portrait


Portrait mode uses the dual cameras on your iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X to create a depth-of-field effect so your portraits have lovely bokeh backgrounds. We've already mentioned the portrait lighting effects available on the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X but those with the iPhone 7 can't access these, instead, you can use the depth-of-field effect to simply blur the background of your portrait shots. 

It’s easy to get the perfect shot. Just swipe to Portrait and take the picture. The Camera app even gives you tips in real time. So if you're too close, too far away, or the area is too dark, the camera lets you know. You can also use True Tone flash, set a timer, and apply camera filters.

To use the portrait mode, open up the camera app, swipe to portrait mode, look for the yellow portrait box and hit the shutter button. 


iPhone 7 Plus


How To Shoot A Group Portrait


Group shots can also get a little help from portrait mode as the iPhone can detect multiple faces in the frame and still blur the background so your subjects 'pop' from the photo. You can also apply the portrait lighting effects to group shots, too. 

The steps are exactly the same as if you were capturing an image with just one person in but we will recap the steps: open the camera app, find the portrait mode (select a lighting effect if using them), frame up and wait for the boxes around people's faces to go yellow then hit the shutter button. 


Group Portrait



How To Shoot A Selfie With The Timer


When taking a selfie you have to frame your shot and keep your phone steady while moving your fingers to hit the shutter button which sometimes can result in shake spoiling your shot. Fortunately, for you selfie-loving people out there, Apple has installed a self-timer into their cameras so you can set a 3 second or 10-second delay, hit the shutter button, pose, wait for the countdown and smile when your iPhone reaches the end of its timer. A countdown appears so you know how long you have to wait and it means that you won't shake the phone trying to hit the shutter button while still looking in the right direction. 


Self Timer

How To Shoot A One-Handed Selfie


Everyone knows that the higher and further away the camera is from your face when taking a selfie, the better your selfie will be. Faces appear thinner and look less distorted but to get the perfect angle, you often have to shoot your selfies one-handed which is, sometimes, easier said than done. Clicking the camera's shutter button with one hand can be tricky and result in shake spoiling your shots but Apple has turned the volume buttons, found on the side of iPhones, into shutter buttons making it easier for you to capture a selfie when your arm is outreached. 


Apple iPhone 8 Plus Volume Buttons


4. Lighting Techniques For The iPhone


How To Shoot A Sunset Silhouette


Sunsets + silhouettes = artistic portrait and they're really easy to crate on the iPhone. 

  • Step 1: Put your subject in front of your light source which, at sunset, is obviously the sun. 
  • Step 2: Hold the screen where you want the focus to be so it locks. 
  • Step 3: Move the exposure slider down to lower the exposure. 
  • Step 4: Capture your silhouette. 


How to shoot a sunset silhouette on iPhone


How To Shoot Without A Flash On The iPhone

The Flash on the iPhone might be useful but it can be overly bright and spoil images you're trying to create a specific feel in. To combat this, simply turn it off - couldn't be easier really! To do this, click the lightning icon at the top of the camera app and select 'off'. You can then get creative with external light sources and exposure levels. 


How to shoot without a flash on iPhone


5. Capturing Video & Moving Images With The iPhone


How To Shoot Stills While Filming

Don't miss a great a great still when capturing video with your iPhone by hitting the shutter button at the same time as you're recording video footage. When you switch to video mode and press the record button, you'll notice there's a shutter button that appears to the left which you can hit to your heart's content to capture still frames while recording moving images. 


How To Create A Looping Or Bouncing Live Photo On The iPhone

Those with the iPhone 7 and above can capture Live Photos which move when you open them up but as well as capturing a 'live shot', iPhone users can edit them so they loop or bounce. To do this, open the Live photo and swipe up so the effects menu appears. From here, you can select 'Loop', 'Bounce' or even 'Long Exposure' to give your live photos a little more creativity. 

iPhone effects

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Photographs taken using the Apple iPhone 8 Plus

There’s a crocodile in Bushy Park!Standing tall and statelySpreading outThe moon is outThe circleSailing into the sunsetNature’s illuminationThe sun, the moon and a few birdsLight and shadeAnyone for a swim?The perfect diveA typical English summerOne sunny day in JanuaryPretty with greeneryOops, sorry!

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