In the last few weeks I’ve learnt a huge amount about using your iPhone camera to take photos and have realised what for me has become the number one iPhone photography tip.
There’s a lot more to using your iPhone camera than you probably realise and getting to know what it can do better can radically improve the quality of the pictures that you take.
I learnt from the experts who write for our monthly iExpert News newsletter site where a guide to iPhone photography is the detailed ‘how to’ guide in this month’s edition.
We have lots of articles every month for subscribers to the newsletter but each month there is a detailed step by step article on a specific iPhone or iPad topic, and taking better pictures on your iPhone is that focus article this month.
The Camera We All Carry
Photography has exploded with the ever expanding ownership of smartphones with very high quality cameras. It’s also been fuelled by the popularity of photo sharing on sites like Instagram.
And, of course, taking a never ending stream of selfies is perfectly alright if that’s your thing, but because you have a camera of quite awesome abilities in your pocket with you at all times (if your phone is with you habitually as it is for most of us!) you have the tools to take more and higher quality photos and videos at all times.
Let’s not forget that the smartphone is also responsible for the rise of ‘on the spot’ video footage on global news networks. It’s commonplace these days that when a major news event is covered by television news there will be video included that’s been shot by a member of the public on a smartphone.
Having your iPhone on hand and knowing how to get the best from the camera for both stills and videos sets you up for the opportunities to take shots or footage that are around you all the time every day.
So, a ‘mini-tip’ is just to think like a photographer and remember that you have your camera with you. If you see something that might be a great shot, just whip out your iPhone and take a few pictures. Use the ‘Burst’ feature that takes a series of images in quick succession (just hold the shutter button down to do this).
Just by taking more pictures you’ll have a far greater chance of taking better ones. You can go through and delete endless pictures that aren’t up to scratch, but this is one way to find some gems. In the days of film and photo developing we never knew whether we’d captured a great shot until we got the prints back – and there wasn’t any cropping or touching up we could do before sending the pictures to be developed.
Now we can shoot to our heart’s content, chuck away the rubbish pictures and then crop, edit and enhance all within our iPhones – the full iPhone photography guide at iExpert News covers all this in detail.
It’s that simple. To take better photos, get into the habit of taking lots and lots more photos and keep the best. The more you take, the more will be good in the first instance and, of course, the better you will get with practice.
The ‘Rule of Thirds’
However there is one key tip that I learnt from by reading the guide on iExpert News and it has transformed every photo that I’ve taken since!
And, it’s not really anything to do with the ‘how and why’ of taking better pictures with an iPhone. It’s a general principle of photography that you might have heard about. The only thing that makes the way you use it when taking photos with an iPhone is that your camera on your iPhone really helps you to utilise it.
The principle I’m talking about and my number one iPhone photography tip is to use something called ‘The Rule of Thirds’
When you take a photo with your iPhone you will see a 3 x 3 grid that is overlaying the image in your viewfinder and makes 9 boxes. This is to help you with vertical and horizontal lines but also so that you can easily apply the photography ‘rule of thirds’.
The Rule of Thirds is a building block for good quality photography that has been known about for hundreds of years and can provide the basis for well balanced pictures.
You do not necessarily have to follow it for every photograph you take but it does give a great starting position and knowing the rule will undoubtedly help in many situations.
The idea is that any scene which you wish to photograph can be broken down into the 9 areas of the 3 x 3 grid. As you take your shot you can look to place the points of interest in any of the four sections where the lines of the grid intersect and additionally you can use any of the lines making up the grid to position other elements such as a horizontal horizon or vertical dividing element (a wall of a building for example).
The reasoning behind the Rule of Thirds is that it seems to be human nature to look at the intersection points of the grid rather than the centre of the picture so applying the rule encourages you to work with that tendency to make a viewer view your image in a more positive light. Try it and see whether it helps you create better photos!
The Rule of Thirds grid is optionally switched off (it is on by default) in Settings. Go to Settings > Photos & Camera and scroll down to the ‘Camera’ heading and toggle on ‘Grid’.
But I don’t see why you would! I’d heard of the Rule of Thirds before and I’d seen the grid overlaid on the viewfinder of my iPhone camera when taking pictures.
Somehow I’d managed to think this was just to help me keep vertical and horizontal lines level – which it does and is a little part of it. However, as soon as I started using it to help me frame every scene that I was looking at and, in essence, pushing the focus of many shots off centre, the response from friends and family to all my pictures exploded! Literally I know have people commending me on how good my photos are and that never happened before!
I don’t frame every shot using the grid now since sometimes it’s just better to have a centralised image, but by and large I do.
It’s my number one iPhone photography tip. I urge you to get familiar with the grid and consciously use it as you take photos – and , as I said above, also just take lots, lots more!