Using the camera in your iPhone

What is iPhoneography?

From the Wikipedea definition – iPhoneography is the art of creating photos with an Apple iPhone. This is a style of mobile photography that differs from all other forms of digital photography in that images are both shot and processed on the iOS device.

A visit to the Photography SIG will soon answer the question “What is the best camera for me to use?”.

And the answer is simply that the best camera is the one that you have with you at the time!

The aim of this series of articles
is to introduce you to the fun of using your iPhone and a few apps to not only take good pictures, but to be able to do the post production editing on your iPhone.

Part 1 (August) will be about the basic controls on your iPhone camera. Part 2 (September) will be about using the editing software that comes with your iPhone. Finally, Part 3 (October) will look at a few basic apps that will add functionality to your iPhone and let you do even more with it.

Chris from the Movie Making SIG has said that his iPhone 6 is all that he needs to shoot and fully edit videos. The videos that he has shown us over the past few months certainly back up his statements.

So I hope that this article will get you interested in using your iPhone not only to shoot still video images with, but to also get you started using the iPhone apps to add layers of textures and a frame and maybe even begun creating composite projects by adding in another image or using extracted elements to tell a story with your creation.

For myself, I still prefer a larger screen as with my iPad or desktop monitor for any editing. I am just not able to see the detail that I want on the iPhone screen.

What Do I Need?
I  want to keep things simple so that all that I need is this:

iPhone 5c used in this article.

This is what I am trying to avoid:

Image 2 -  iPhone accesssories

iPhone with a few of the accessories that you can get!

If you really want to cart a bag of gear around, that is your choice. For me, I am trying to keep it as simple as I can so that I always have a convenient camera with me in my pocket.

When I want to go for a photo walk around the block, that is when I take my Canon camera bag with me with lenses, filters and other gadgets.

OK, let’s make a start.

Part 1 taking photos with your iPhone

Introduction to the iPhone Camera (based on IOS 8)
Step 1 – Keep it clean!
Clean the camera lens. Seems like such a simple thing doesn’t it? But I think of the number of times that a persistent full stop will be on my monitor until I realise that it is where I accidentally sneezed on the screen.

Step 2 – Open the camera app quickly.
Set up the camera so that it is easy to use. When you push the home button, there is a camera icon at the bottom lower left that you that you can use your finger to tap and slide upwards and go right into camera mode.

Image 3 - with text and box home screen

Tap and slide your finger upwards to quickly open the camera app.

Step 3  – take a picture.
You are ready to start taking photos. Go for it. Press the big white dot and you should see it turn black and then back to white to indicate that it has taken a picture.

Image 5ver2 - Red circle around the shutter button

The red circle shows where the shutter button is that you press to take a photo.

You will also hear a sound of a camera shutter clicking. If you want to get rid of the sound temporarily, use the Mute button the side of your iPhone.

You may find it easier to use the Volume Up button rather than the white dot. Often it is harder to keep the camera steady when you try to use the white shutter button on the screen.

A better way to use the shutter button is to use the raise volume button shown here.

A better way to use the shutter button is to use the raise volume button shown here.

Getting better photos
Step 4 – choose a type of image
When you open up the camera controls, you have a basic choice of photo (rectangular size), square, or video. You pick the one that you want by tapping and sliding your finger across until the one that you want is in the middle.

Choices for photo style

Choices for photo style

Most of my images or either photo or square. There is a panoramic mode which can be of interest.

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Step 5 Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds divides your camera into nine diffeent zones. You can use the intersections of the dividing lines to improve the composition of your photos.

It is possible to add a Rule of Thirds grid to your camera home screen by going to Settings/Photos and Camera/Grid and sliding the button to the right to the On position (Green colour).

Image 9 - Grid lines on camera home screen

Grid lines on camera home screen.

For more information about the rule of thirds and composition, try these websites:

Step 6 – Using Focus Lock
I can vaguely wave my phone in the direction of something that I wish to take a picture of. I have no control of where the camera will focus.

To gain more control over what and where the camera focuses, I can touch the part of the screen for three seconds where I want it to focus. A small yellow box appears with the label “AE/AF LOCK”. so the camera stays focused on that one spot no matter where I aim the camera.

Image 11 - AE-AF Lock

Yellow box for AE/AF Lock

One way to use this would be to focus on a face in a portrait. Then the background of the photo will be blurred so as to bring attention only to the face.

This is one of the skills that I have not mastered yet. I always seem to be a bit shaky with the camera. Makes me appreciate image stabilization software!

Step 7 – Brighter or darker?
After setting the focus in your photo, you can adjust the exposure by sliding your finger along the screen to move the slider to make your image brighter or darker.

Image 12 -final version slider for the exposure control

(Tip from the Editor – you can get a screen shot by pressing the home key and the off/on button at the same time. Thank you, Pam.)

Step 8 – Zoom in/out
If you want to zoom in on your subject, use a pinch motion on the camera home screen. When the slider comes up, just tap on the slider to get it to zoom in or out.

Image 13 - box added Slider for zooming in out

Tap and move your finger on the slider to zoom in/out.

Keep in mind that it is better to zoom in with your feet and get closer to the subject rather than use the digital zoom of the camera. Since it is a digital zoom, you can lose a lot of the quality of your image by zooming in too far.

That only leaves the controls along the top of the screen to discuss how to use.

Step 9 – Using the flash
The flash icon looks like a bolt of lightning in the upper left corner of the screen. When you tap on the icon, you get three options – Auto, On, and Off.

Once again, have a play with the three options and see how you go. For myself, I find that the flash is not much use beyond one metre and that it gives a really horrid appearance.

Options for flash on your iPhone.

Options for flash on your iPhone.

Step 10 – using HDR for a brighter picture.
When you tap on the HDR letters at the top of the screen, yellow indicates that it is On and white means that it is Off.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.

The camera takes a series of photos at different exposures. So if three shots were taken, the first would be underexposed, the second would be normal exposure and the third would be overexposed.

The in camera software combines the images to give you one final image with more detail across the tonal range than any one of the three images taken separately.

If you have a steady hand, then the HDR will give you an image with a lot more detail and brightness. However, if you are shaky like I am, then you will have a blurry mess. When you use a tripod, HDR gives some incredible results.

Step 11 – using the self timer
This one is kind of easy. When you tap on the icon second from the upper right that looks like a stop watch with a sweep hand, you get three options – Off, 3 s and 10 s. For example, tap on 10 s, then push the shutter button, and run to put your self in the picture. Results vary with your amount of patience.

Step 12 – the selfie icon!
Now why would you want to use this?  You even have to buy a selfie stick as your next step to this form of self adoration.

Much more fun to photobomb international students when they are taking selfies on Bourke mall. Even the queen does the occasional photobomb.

hockeyroos and queen photobomb

GLASGOW: Hockeyroos players Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris have become internet sensations after their selfie was photo-bombed by the Queen.

I hope that this Part 1 will encourage you to try out some of the features of your iPhone camera that you may not be familiar with.

If you have the time or inclination to try some of the camera features, please send me your photos and I will happily put them up on the website for the Photoshop SIG gallery. The email address is

That’s all, folks!



About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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