in iOS Tips, iPhone

For many people (including myself) the iPhone (or android if you’ve got one) is becoming their main camera. After all the old saying “the best camera is the camera you’ve got with you” however, with the iPhone 5s Apple have made significant progress with the camera that it is actually a decent camera in it’s own right.
However, there’s still one factor that can ruin your photos regardless of the camera they are taken on…you. But if you avoid these dumb mistakes then you’ll be on your way to taking great quality photos.

1. Using An iPad or iPad Mini To Take Photos

Just no….with the exception maybe of taking a selfie or if you really can’t find your iPhone and need to take a picture to prove you are alive or something then you just shouldn’t use your iPad. An iPad mini is a set up but that’s like saying A kids bike is better than not having a bike, really you should just ride an adults bike…or take a picture with a camera that actually lives up to the standards.

[In case you need any further evidence I present to you this classic tumblr, otherwise known as exhibit A]

2. Shaking While Taking A Photo

The most common rookie mistake and way to ruin a good photo is to move the camera and shake the lens but it’s understandable. We move all the time and these little movements can cause big blurs in pictures. Two essential tips to stop this.

Hold Your iPhone Well

Simple common sense here. If you hold your phone well with a good firm grip then it won’t shake as much. The size of the iPhone certainly helps here as it’s not as wide as some Android phones and so easier to grip with one hand. In portrait mode ensure you have a good grip round the phone and in landscape mode use one hand as a base with the other on the side as in the photos below. You can even get accessories like the snapgrip, the iPhone shutter grip¬†or the Belkin live action grip.

Use your headphones or volume keys as a shutter

Pressing on the screen of your phone is the most surefire way to get it to shake and ruin your perfect shot. In most apps you can set up your camera to take a photo when you press either the volume button on the device or on the headphones. By doing this you reduce the shaking and take a better quality picture.

3. Taking Just One Photo

If you’ve ever been at a wedding you’ll know that a professional never takes just one photo. You should always take multiple photos, changing angles, focusing on different points etc. Although you get to preview photos now on your phone or camera you’re wasting time that you could be snapping other photos avoiding the problems of having to ask people again and again to pose.

So use features like burst mode, take a picture and move to a new angle, try again and keep moving.

4. Just Taking Photos Looking Straight On At An Object

A lot of people just stand and take a photo straight at the object (With the exception of the from above pointed down selfie or “MySpace profile shot) think about taking photos from different perspectives, try angling the camera up and down. Find a position where you can shot down at the object, bend and kneel so you can take a photo upwards. Remember just because you always look at the world from your point of view doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try different views.

5. Using Artificial Blur…Badly

Don’t you just love that high quality blur that you get from a DSLR, many apps provide an artificial blur to try and turn your totally in focus photo to have elements out of focus. The problem is that a lot them suck. They just add a haze over the whole of the background rather than a variable filter. However, better quality apps will provide a variable filter which makes further back more out of focus or allow you to set different focus and lighting points in the picture.

Alternatively you can buy lens additions that will focus on a specific point.


6. Ignoring The Lighting

Lighting is very important for a photo, if you don’t get enough then details will be blurred and hard to make out, too much in one spot and you’ll get enough lens flares to make a JJ Abram’s film. Try to get your main source of light behind you and certainly avoid it being in front of you. If you have a fancy photo app then adjust your aperture (the amount of light that is used in the exposure) or f-stop value. The higher the f-stop value the less light enters, so you want a high value in bright light. In Contrast, a low value means more light will enter so use a low value when there is little light.

The other value to consider is the ISO value. This is how sensitive the film is to light some apps give you the ability to set an ISO value. Generally you want to use a low value as this results in a better quality picture. However, this means you’ll need more light to get a clear picture. For fast moving image, if you have a low ISO then you’ll have blurring of the image, a higher value will be clearer.

7. Forgetting the rule of thirds

One of the classic rules of photography is to cut up your photo into three segments including horizontally and vertically. Use these lines as a points to mark your photos up to. A building can take two thirds or a single third. This isn’t a hard and fast rune and there are plenty of classic examples of exceptions to this but until you learn them, it’s a good principle to stick to.

Check out this article at digital photography school for more on keeping and breaking the rule.


8. Ignore The Lines In The Photo

There are hundreds of lines in the world, some straight and come curved but they draw your eye along them. Use these lines to draw your viewers attention to what you want them to see.

9. Not experimenting with the camera setting

If you stick to the standard settings out of the box and never change anything then you’ll get average results every time. Experiment with the settings, try taking the same photo and adjust the settings to explore what the different settings do. Once you’ve get to grips with your settings then you can use them to really enhance a photo.

10. Zooming in before you take a photo

Camera phones (with only the exception of a couple of samsung phones/camera) don’t have zooms. However, they do come with digital zooms. Really this is just cropping the image closer to the center and stretching it across the screen. As such you lower the quality of the photo and you may miss out on the surrounding elements. You might as well take a normal picture at full resolution and then crop it later, you’l get the same effect.

12. Never Cleaning Your Lense

Pockets collect dirt and when you keep your phone in your pocket, it’s only natural that they’d collect some of that dirt. When you combine that with greasy fingerprints they can really lower the quality of your pictures, adding either a film over the lense that reduces the light that comes through of perhaps worse, adding small dots of dirt over the picture.

13. Keeping your best photos to yourself

There are plenty of good reasons not to share photos you take especially with more and more social networks trying to claim legal rights over your photos, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share them at all. When you take a good photo then share it for others to appreciate it, give you feedback and also get inspiration from other photographers. It’s no secret that we’re fans of Pressgram here but there are other options for sharing

Which is your favourite and why?

14. Sticking With The Default Camera App

Although the standard Apple app isn’t bad, it doesn’t have as many options or customisations as some of the others out there. By sticking to the default you’re limiting your options and creativity. Try apps like Camera awesome which let you use a different source for light level from the point you focus on. If that’s not your taste what about procamera 7 or Camera+.

So there you go, dumb mistakes that are surprisingly common within iPhone Photography but really shouldn’t be. I’m sure you haven’t been doing all of these things but hopefully there is something you can take and apply to your photography straight away.

What are your tips for getting more from your iPhone photos

[Photo Credit: Tampen via Compfight cc]

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