If you are like me then your iPhone may well be your main or even only camera. There’s no doubt that a DSLR will get you better results and even most point and clicks on the market will also offer you better pictures than the humble iPhone. However, the iPhone’s portability and near constant presence in our lives make it the perfect tool for capturing that unexpected moment.
Sometimes these moments come during the day but it isn’t uncommon for them to come at night as well. But getting a great shot with your iPhone involves using a few different tricks from taking a great shot during the day.
1. Hold Your iPhone Well!
This is an essential during the day and night but in general your shutter speed is going to be longer at night resulting in increased blurring from moving the iPhone during shooting. It’s even more important to ensure you have a good grip and try to use your headphones to take the shot and reduce movements further.
Make sure you have a solid grip and don’t just support the very ends of the device. Alternatively you can pick up grips to hold your iPhone stably as you take a photo.
2. Think About The Light
You might think that seeing as it’s night then lighting wouldn’t be so important. Actually it still is. It’s much easier to see an object when it is the brightest thing in the photo so if you have a very bright light source (say a light or the moon) either try and position a brighter light source behind you or set your exposure point.
[You may notice that many of the following points focus on light. That’s because light is so essential in photography. The other steps maybe a result of this.]
3. Shoot At Dusk
During the day time there are better times to take photos and likewise there are better times to shoot at night. The early evening is better than the pitch black as you get all the mixes of colors in the night sky as the day ends.
4. Use Special Camera Apps
The built in app has some functions but it doesn’t really help with low light settings. Luckily there are some third party apps that provide you with extra functions for the low light settings.
Apps that Let in More Light
Nightcap is set for night shots and so sets your cameras sensors to be more sensitive to the lower light settings. This allows it to pick up on more details.
Long Exposure Apps
Using an app like this closes the lens slowly, This means that you get light over a long time entering the lens. This allows you to make those amazing images where you have streams of light.
Check out Slow shutter app or LongExpo to take long exposure shots.
High Dynamic Range is a feature where your camera takes two pictures focuses on different aspects of the light spectrum (the highs and lows) and then combines them. This really helps with night photos to pull out the darker shades especially when there is a bright light from a building or street light.
The default camera app includes HDR but you can also get a stand alone app like ProHDR.
5. Post Process Your Photos
Post processing a picture can help you pick out certain colours more, tone down bright lights, straighten up the image and generally enhance the picture you’ve taken. Be careful though, it’s pretty hard to make a bad photo look good with post production, make sure you take a good photo in the first place.
6. Use The Flash Sparingly
The flash on camera phone (and even most point and clicks) suck. They produce unidirectional light across a broad spectrum that doesn’t reflect the natural light around. Even with the improvements in the iPhone 5Ss flash it still isn’t great. Be very careful and cautious about using the flash. It’s much better to use a longer exposure than the Flash.
7. Use Exposure Lock
let’s repeat an obvious point again. Light is important with night shots. Your exposure lock is the setting which will adjust the light level based on where it is focused. If you focus on a low-level lighting area of the scene then the lighter areas will become brighter. Focus on a brighter area and the darker areas will be gloomier.
Depending on the shot and what you want to stand out, you will have to select your exposure point for that. If you just open your camera app and hit shoot then you’ll probably end up with mixed results as the camera app tries to work out where to focus.
Setting a fixed point is useful because it speed up the camera shutter (very useful for fireworks) and allows you to dictate the correct setting. You can do this in most camera apps (including the built in app by simply taping on the screen and dragging the box with your finger to the ideal spot.
Remember that an iPhone can only get you so far. No matter how good the photos you can get with an iPhone you won’t be able to get as good ones as you can with a Good quality DSLR.
What are your night photography tips?
[Note the feature image was not taken on an iPhone]