Apple’s smartphone cameras are suitable for more than just snapshots, selfies and fleeting family photos. We show tools, tips and tricks for better pictures.
Take panoramas in portrait format
Try a vertical panorama to take pictures of a skyscraper or high rooms. To do this, select the “Pano” mode in the camera app and hold the iPhone across. Now you can create a portrait panorama in the direction of the arrow. Start on the ground and end up overhead. Important: If possible, turn the iPhone out of your wrist around the camera axis instead of swinging it with your arm outstretched. This minimizes distortion and errors when assembling the panorama.
Especially when taking architectural pictures, make sure that vertical lines are not too close to the lens or the edge of the picture, as they will otherwise be reproduced in a highly distorted manner.
Tip: If the panorama starts in a dark area, lighter areas in the subject are overexposed. To prevent this, first swivel to the middle area. Tap the spot you want to correctly expose for at least two seconds to activate the AE / AF lock. This switches off the constant readjustment of the exposure. Now start the panorama from the dark area as planned.
Capture moving subjects with pinpoint accuracy
It is usually only with a lot of luck that you can photograph moving objects or people precisely when they are in the desired position and in the desired position.
Don’t rely on hitting the shutter button at the right time, and use the camera app’s continuous shooting function (iPhone 6s or higher). To do this, simply hold the release button on older iPhones before the 11 series as long as the series image recording is to take. On the iPhone 11 models, slide the shutter release button to the left to start continuous shooting because long presses will start recording a video. If the self-timer is activated (swipe up over the viewfinder image and tap the stopwatch symbol) and Live Photo is switched off, the camera app also takes a series of ten pictures.
You can find all continuous shots in the Photos app by switching to the “Albums” view and then scrolling down to the “Media types” area. There is the entry “Series”.
After recording, you can select one or more images from the series. To do this, tap on “Select” in the bottom bar in the large view of a series shot. Mark the pictures you want to keep and tap “Done” in the top right corner. You will be asked whether you want to keep the favorites and delete the remaining pictures in the series.
You can also select a still image from the three-second recording for a live photo, but the continuous shooting function enables longer sequences of images.
A new look at everyday objects
The small camera and the compact dimensions of the iPhone are ideal for rediscovering everyday objects. All kinds of motifs that allow a “tunnel view” as well as objects with translucent surfaces or openings are suitable for this: for example a hose, a spiral, a straw or even the opening of a deposit return machine. Go on a discovery tour, you will surely find one or the other worthwhile motive even in your household.
A bright environment is important. Hold the object in the light source or use a flashlight for stationary subjects such as heating fins. Depending on the size of the opening, try different perspectives and place the camera in the middle or on the edge. The automatic mode of the camera app is sufficient for most subjects. If the wrong part of the image is in focus, tap on the desired area to set the focus point. If the subject appears too dark, pull up the little sun next to the focus frame to brighten it.
Extend the imaging angle of Ultrawide photos
The iPhone models of the 11 series are equipped with an ultra-wide-angle camera, which covers a very wide image area of ??around 160 degrees. If you don’t have an iPhone 11, you can use an ultra wide-angle clip-on lens. The dramatic visual impact of such lenses is known, for example, from action cams.
With a panorama shot you can further intensify the extreme viewing angle of an ultra wide-angle camera. You can create the image in either landscape or portrait format, just like with a conventional panorama shot. A short pan is enough to capture a larger angle of view on the photo. So that you can use the finished panorama flexibly, it should not be wider than a 16: 9 image.
Use live mode for long exposures
Many people use the live photo function from the iPhone 6s by mistake. If this option is active, a circular symbol appears in the top bar. The iPhone records a three-second image sequence that starts 1.5 seconds before the shutter button is pressed.
You can not only use such a recording as a short video, but also convert it into a long exposure. This makes flowing water from rivers and waterfalls appear silky smooth, for example. To do this, open the live image you just created in the camera or photos app and swipe your finger from bottom to top over the preview image. A selection of the effects now appears below. Slide it to the left and tap on “Long exposure”.
Note that the subject may only move slowly in order to realize the motion blur. If it moves through the whole scene during the recording time, it disappears in the long exposure. You also have to hold the iPhone very still during the recording, a tripod is recommended.
Create a backlight with a flashlight
The strong colors and fine structures of flowers or leaves come into their own particularly well when they are flooded with light. Ideally, the sun is behind the subject. Since it is difficult for you to choose the position of the sun, a flashlight proves to be a good companion for iPhone photographers. A lamp with a light intensity of 1200 lumens or more is ideal. You can get them online for as little as $ 20. LED flashlights generate a light temperature of up to 6500 Kelvin, which corresponds approximately to the light temperature in a cloudless sky (cold white).
Important in illuminated rooms: Artificial light often has a significantly lower light temperature of around 3000 Kelvin. If you illuminate the subject with an LED flashlight in this ambient light, it appears bluish cold. In this case, an orange-colored film in front of the flashlight creates a warmer light that matches the ambient light better. The LED light of another smartphone can also do a good job for spontaneous recordings. You can also use a white or silver surface to reflect the sunlight. Sometimes a white piece of paper or fabric is enough.
Record macros with a clip-on lens
You can get macro attachments for the iPhone for just a few dollars. They are usually attached like a clothespin. With their help you penetrate into imagery that is otherwise hidden from the iPhone: pistils, insects or the structure of tissue are just a few examples. With such a lens, you have to approach the subject up to a few centimeters. The short distance also creates a natural blurring of the foreground and foreground. A macro lens can only focus sharply a few millimeters deep. If your iPhone has multiple lenses, attach the macro lens to the wide-angle camera in the top corner of the device. With its focal length of 26 millimeters, this is best suited for the macro lens.
Do not use portrait mode only for people
The portrait mode of the iPhones with dual cameras or powerful CPU (iPhone XR, iPhone SE 2020) enables an effect that is known from SLR cameras: the subject in the foreground appears crisp, but the background is blurred. While for SLR cameras there are physical reasons such as the lens diameter and large sensors, a smartphone has to simulate this blur. Since this bokeh effect is particularly popular with portrait shots, Apple has optimized it and called it “portrait”. The iPhone algorithm can often not distinguish curls or glasses well from the background.
The mode also works with all other motifs that have a clear and clean demarcation from the background. Switch to the “Portrait” setting in the camera app by swiping. Tap the “f” symbol in the top bar to adjust the blur of the background. In line with the large cameras, the camera app specifies the value of an aperture as the degree of blurring (the smaller, the less clear). You can also set various lighting effects in portrait mode. “Natural light” is selected. Swipe over this setting to choose a different one of the six lighting effects. Incidentally, all settings can be changed at any time, even after recording.
Make motion blur more flexible
If the three-second long exposure of the camera app is not enough, the Slow Shutter Cam app (€ 2.29) gives you more creative freedom. It offers the three modes “Motion Blur” for motion blur, “Light Trail” for traces of light, for example from car headlights at night, and “Low Light” for star photography. The exposure time can be set between 1/8 and 60 seconds. A recording can also be stopped before the end of the specified time. The “Motion Blur” setting is best for flowing water. A tripod or other fixation of the iPhone prevents accidental camera shake.