iPhone Photography Tips You Should Know

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iPhone photography is all about taking incredible pictures on the iPhone. Your ability to create a truly great image improves as you practice. The creative process is not hard to learn, but you need to get the basics right. In this article, you’ll find out 20 essential iPhone photography tips that every iPhone photographer should know.

If you are new to iPhone photography, you should understand these important yet easy-to-learn techniques before anything else. It’s always a good idea to go through these tips and tricks even if you’ve been an iPhone photographer for a while.

So, let’s get started with these iPhone photography tips you need to know for taking amazing photos with your iPhone!

Clean the camera lens

Whether your iPhone stays in your hand, a pocket or on a desk, the camera lens is always exposed. As a result, dirt, dust, grease, and fingerprints get your camera dirty.

A dirty camera lens can block light coming through, and can leave smudges and blurs on your photos. A clean lens is a fundamental step to a sharp and clear picture with your iPhone and any camera!

Tip: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the lens every time before you take a photo. Don’t use any abrasive cleaning solution that will scratch the lens.

Find good lighting

Lighting is one of the most important iPhone photography tips. It’s essential for capturing details and colors. Sufficient natural light, in particular, is great for iPhone photos. The best time would be either early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight is softer and more gentle than mid-day.

If you shoot when the sun is directly above you, you can find a tree or a shaded place. Shade reduces vertical lighting and softens the brightness. However, be careful not to go deep into the shade as this will block the horizontal light and produce flat images.

For indoors, make sure that the light is not on top of or behind the subject. Find a good angle where the line of light gently hits the subject yet provides enough coverage to illuminate the entire scene.

Set the manual focus

Whenever you take a picture, you typically want to make sure that the subject is in focus. To set the focus in the iPhone Camera app, you simply tap the subject in the frame and a small yellow square will be the central point of focus.

You can also lock the focus. You tap the subject you want to set focus on, and press down the small yellow square for a few seconds. When you see AE/AF Lock in a yellow box at the top of the screen, release your finger. To unlock focus and exposure, tap anywhere on the screen.

Tip: You can lock the focus in many scenarios. If there’s movement in the background, you want to keep the subject focused. If you find it difficult to get the subject in focus in macro photography, you can lock the focus first and adjust the distance between your iPhone and the subject.

Adjust exposure yourself

When you tap on the subject to trigger manual focus, the camera also uses the focus point to set the exposure in the frame. Exposure is the brightness of an image.

When you tap to focus on the subject in the frame, a small sun icon appears on the side of the focus recticle. That’s the exposure slider. You can swipe the slider up or down to brighten or darken the image. The manual exposure slider gives you more control over the look of the final picture.

Tip: Your iPhone does a good job setting exposure on the focus point. But you can also control the exposure level to avoid over-exposed (too bright) or under-exposed (too dark) areas.

Use the rule of thirds

Composition is as important as focus and exposure in photography. The rule of thirds is one of the most easy-to-use composition techniques in iPhone photography. It allows you to produce more engaging photos by placing the subject in certain part of the frame.

The rule of thirds is to divide up an image by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You then place the important elements within a frame along those lines, or at the meeting points.

You can turn on the rule of thirds grid overlay in the Camera app. Go to Settings > Camera, and toggle on Grid.bThe grid forces you to think about the shot and move around to get the best composition. However, the rule of thirds isn’t the only way to compose an image. You should always explore and learn other approaches as well.

Tip: Using the rule of thirds in landscape photography makes the image more appealing. If you place the horizon in the center, the final image looks boring, However, if you place the horizon on one of the horizontal lines, sky or earth will make up two-thirds of the scene.

Explore different perspectives

The compact and lightweight-ness of the iPhone allows you to easily explore alternate points of view. If you only take photos from a standing position, you miss out the creativity of iPhone photography. You can move around the camera lens to discover some unexpected yet stunning perspectives that a bigger camera sometimes can’t.

Tip #1: Shooting from high up.

Tip #2: Shoot from a low angle.

Most mobile photos are shot from chest height because it is the most natural and comfortable position. But you can make your iPhone photos more interesting by shooting from different angles. These are simple tips, but by placing your iPhone at different heights and angles, you’ll capture scenes that you normally don’t see from chest height.

Capture details

Good photography means a good balance between the foreground and background. A common mistake among iPhone photographers is that they shoot too far from the subject. When you are far away from the shooting subject, many colors and details are lost. When you get closer, you capture more colors, textures, and edges that bring your photos to life.

Tip: Getting closer to the subject is a popular method used in portrait photography. A close-up shot captures all the facial features, allowing more emotion into the subject.

Remove distracting backgrounds

Keeping your photos clean and simple is one of the most useful iPhone photography tips. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” as Steve Jobs used to say. While detail adds value to an image, too much of it will divide the attention away from the main subject.

You can filter out unnecessary elements in the background. All the empty space in the background is known as “negative space” in photography and it’s an effective technique to make your subject stand out. Photos with minimalist compositions are great for social media and online content. Since most people prefer to browse on their phones, photos with a good, clean focus will look great on a small screen.

Tip #1: Use the sky as your backdrop.

Tip #2: Eliminate all colors. If the backdrop to your photo has many distracting colors, you can use an editing app, such as the default photos app or VSCO, to convert the image into black and white.

Tip #3: Blur the background. You can easily create a DSLR-like depth of field effect in in macro photography or with portrait mode which uses the dual lenses on iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, xs,and xs max.

Use leading lines

Leading lines in photography can be achieved by using any linear element in the scene. There are many linear elements in our daily life such as roads, fences, and shorelines. You want to make sure that the line leads from the foreground into the background. In this way, the photo directs a viewers attention from the front towards the distance.

Leading lines also allow you to make small spaces look wider and longer. This is particularly useful for shooting interior design spaces and architectural models. For single object photography, linear elements are good for emphasis.

Show depth

Depth makes your photos more interesting because it draws viewers into the scene. Commonly used in landscape photography, depth can be incorporated using leading lines. Streets, rivers, fences, and the beach side are all great lines to make use of.

Try to compose the photo in a way that the line leads away from the foreground. This creates an illusion of viewing the scenery from a close position to a distant one. You can also use an object in the foreground as a frame for the entire scene.

Look for reflective surfaces

Reflections can make amazing iPhone photos, and they are very easy to achieve! Mirrors are the most common choice for this. You can also use different surfaces such as glass windows, sunglasses, and silverware. All you need to do is shoot your subject against the reflective element. This results in incredible shots that have depth and perspective all in one.

Tip: If you want to add more appeal, shoot reflections in the water. Just make sure the light is not directly above so you have less shadows.

Use symmetry

Symmetry in photography refers to those images that are identical when halved. Sometimes photographers make a few elements different on each side to make the photo stand out.

The most common way to achieve this trick is to use reflections. The line of symmetry runs in the middle of the photo. You can use a mirror or any reflective surface. You can have the line split the frame from top to bottom or side to side.

Tip: Keep in mind that different surfaces create different reflections, so you’ll have to figure out what works best for you at the time.

Create a sense of scale

You can produce creative iPhone photos by taking advantage of the relationship between your subject, foreground and background. When you take a photo of a natural scene, you will find that including mountains and trees in the background gives a great impression. It’s a matter of knowing how to emphasize the size or scale of the subject. For example, you can show how large and majestic the Grand Canyon is if you include some hikers.

Shoot shadows and silhouettes

As the sun goes down to the horizon, you can capture long shadows of your subjects like railings and trees. This adds a dramatic effect to the shot. Silhouettes are great for taking portraits and abstract photos of random objects. This is a popular photography technique because all you need to do is shoot your subject with the light source on the opposite side.

Tip: Remember to adjust your iPhone’s exposure levels so that the shadows and silhouettes are dark enough.

Don’t use the zoom

The iPhone Camera app allows you to zoom in by pinching in on the screen. Unless you use an iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, Xs or Xs Max which have an optical zoom, other iPhone models only have a digital zoom. Digital zoom is to crop an image down to a specific area. The more you zoom in, the less image quality the result will be.

Use HDR 

You might have heard or read about High Dynamic Range or HDR. This term refers to taking photos with a larger range of colors and contrast. It allows a good balance between brightness and contrast, resulting in very high-quality images.

You can activate the feature in the Camera app by tapping on the HDR button at the top of the screen. You do the same to turn it off or set it to auto mode. For iPhone 7 and later models, the HDR is set to automatic by default.

Hold your camera steady

It’s more difficult to produce a sharp image in a low light environment. The iPhone camera has a set aperture, so the only way to allow more light to reach the sensor is to use a low shutter speed. When it takes longer to capture a scene, any movement of the camera will blur the image.

Tip #1: To avoid blurry photos, you should hold your iPhone with both hands, rest it on a solid surface, or place one side of the phone against a wall.

Tip #2: Set the timer to 3 seconds. Any slight movement of the phone can result in a blurry movement. This can happen right after you hit the shutter button on the screen or the volume button on the side of your iPhone. If you set the timer, you can hold the phone still after releasing the shutter, and the camera won’t snap a shot until 3 seconds later.

Tip #4: Use a tripod. There are several tripods specifically made for the iPhone such as the Joby GorrillaPod.

Take multiple shots

As much as I wish, I don’t always get a good photo in just one shot. There are so many reasons to take more than one picture in a scene. When the subject is moving, you want to take multiple shots to ensure the subject is sharp in focus. When the lightning in a given frame is complex, you want to shoot with various exposure levels. As mentioned before, you want to experiment with different angles and points of view to get an interestingly composed shot.

You can put different thoughts to a scene, and keep taking pictures until you’re happy with what you want to express in the final image.

Don’t over-edit your photos

Another beauty of iPhone photography is that you can edit photos. While you can apply presets in photo editing apps to your photos, don’t over-use them. A high-contrasting, over-saturated effect doesn’t look real and turns a good photo into a bad one.

Whether you take photos with a DLSR or iPhone, exposure, focus, and composition are the determining factors to a captivating photo. The purpose of using photo editing apps is to enhance the natural beauty of the photo, not to overpower the elements in the scene.

Conclusion

Hopefully you find these iPhone photography tips helpful. Some of them are general rules in photography. Using these tips is just like learning to ride a bike. They’ll become second nature before you know it. My advice to you is to keep shooting, critiquing your shots, and thinking about how to make them even next time. Photography is an art, regardless of what camera you use. Good art takes time, practice, and patience. Keep moving forward.

Do you have any iPhone photography tips? Share them in the comments below!


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How Music Affects Your Productivity

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Creating music is seen as one of the triumphs of human creativity. But does music itself, help someone to create?

It’s a question worth asking, since music has increasingly become a part of the workplace. Music has a strange temporal permanence; like art decorates a space, music decorates time.

With so much of our time being spent at work, and so much of our work being done at computers, music has become inseparable from our day-to-day tasks — a way to “optimize the boring” while looking at screens.

To better understand music and productivity, let’s look at the research.

Music makes repetitive tasks more enjoyable

Music’s effectiveness is dependent on how immersive a task is, in terms of the creative demand of the work.

When a task is clearly defined and repetitive in nature, research from Applied Ergonomics suggests that music is consistently helpful.

A series of experiments has investigated the relationship between the playing of background music during the performance of repetitive work and efficiency in performing such a task. The results give strong support to the contention that economic benefits can accrue from the use of music in industry.

Assembly line workers showed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music, for example.

More modern studies from Dr. Teresa Lesiuk would argue that it isn’t the music itself, but rather the improved mood your favorite music brings that is the source of this bump in productivity.

Music with a dissonant tone was found to have no impact to productivity, while music in the major mode, or key, had better results: “Subjects hearing BGM (background music) achieved greater productivity when BGM was in the major mode.”

In a noisy workplace, music is an escape

While the open-office debate rages on, one point has become clear: a noisy workplace can halt personal productivity in its tracks.

Perhaps a pair of headphones may not be as distracting as some companies think says Dr. Lesiuk.

Dr. Lesiuk’s research focuses on how music affects workplace performance. In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.

Again, we see improved mood as the main argument made.

While the open space encourages more collaboration, the noise can be too much for some people to handle when engaging in deep work. If there is no physical escape — such as a private room — then a pair of headphones may be the best alternative.

Ambient noise is the creative sweet spot

For those who do enjoy listening to music during creative sessions, an atmospheric presence seems to work best.

study in the Journal of Consumer Research has shown that a moderate noise level can get creative juices flowing, but the line is easily crossed; loud noises made it incredibly difficult to concentrate. Bellowing basses and screeching synths will do you more harm than good when engaging in deep work.

A 2015 study from the Acoustical Society of America found that when it came to sound-masking with ambient noise, “natural” sounds, such as waves at a beach, also improved subjects’ ability to concentrate.

Whether deliberately created or naturally occurring, a soft background noise is what you should aim for.

Lyrics are often too distracting

For low-immersion or physical tasks, music with lyrics can offer huge benefits. But for intensive work, lyrics are especially destructive for focus.

Research from Applied Acoustics shows that “intelligible” chatter — talking that can be clearly heard and understood — is what makes for a distracting environment. Shifting focus to figure out what someone else is saying is the reason why speech is often considered the most troublesome element of a noisy office; in one study, 48% of participants listed intelligible talking as the sound which distracted them the most.

Trying to engage in language-related tasks — such as writing — while listening to lyrics would be akin to holding a conversation while another person talks over you… while also strumming a guitar. Lyrics are often a no-go.

Lyrics might not have the same effect on creative tasks that don’t directly deal with “verbal architecture.” A 2005 study lead by Dr. Lesiuk that looked at software developers suggested that music with lyrics helped their output while working.

Familiarity is best for focus

It may be beneficial to listen to music you are familiar with if you need to intensely focus for a project.

The reason being is that new music is surprising; since you don’t know what to expect, you are inclined to listen closely to see what comes next.

With familiar music, you know what lies ahead. Paying attention requires less focus.

While the “journey” of new music can be beneficial in other ways, it’s best to tread a familiar path if you are using music to get things done.

Music for immersive tasks: what works?

Although “music that you like” should be given preference, most people have a fairly wide range of tastes, so using a certain type of music just for work isn’t out of the question.

Below we’ll cover a few proven styles, why they work, and where you can find more examples.


Classical Music

Why it works

Lacking in lyrics and often considered the finest form of the craft, classical music is a popular choice. A 2009 study from the American Roentgen Ray Society concluded that Baroque-period tunes have a measurable impact on productivity.

However, not all classical music is created equal — the dramatic twists and turns of Toccata & Fugue in D minor might not be as appropriate as the more delicate sounds of Für Elise.

Where to Listen


Electronic Music

Why it works

Ambient electronica tends to fit our need for present but unobtrusive. As a genre it’s repetitive, but in a good way.

Unlike the ups and downs of a symphonic piece, there are quite a few producers who aim to create soundscapes, which emphasize a few select melodies that build on each other.

The song’s focus can help your focus, as the repeating tones won’t be disruptive.

Where to listen


Video-Game Music & Film Scores

Why it works

Game composers know that the ideal music for many situations is music that enhances the experience while not distracting the player.

Similarly, film composers know that their ideal music enhances the viewers experience and can even draw out emotions or enhance emotions that the visuals of the film create.

One of the most popular suggestions of all time on Reddit for “music that helps with concentration” was the SimCity soundtrack, which makes perfect sense. Maxis designed the music to be enjoyable, but subdued enough that it wouldn’t zap focus from the many things you needed to do to keep your city running.

Where to listen


“Everything Else”

Why it works

Anything soft enough to not divert attention and focus is a possibility for your potential playlist — different strokes for different folks.

If vocals don’t bug you during work, give them a go.

Jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, blues, and everything else is up for grabs, remembering that “ambient” is the word of the day for engrossing work.

Where to listen


No music (ambient noise)

If you’ve had enough of these kids and their “newfangled dub steps,” fear not — sometimes the sweet sound of silence is the most fitting of all.

But for many people, total silence is off-putting. There are two useful tools you can use to fix this:

  • SimplyNoise — Playing a low pitch white noise in the background can be a lifesaver if something in your environment is being uncontrollably loud (such as construction work).

  • Night Storms  (a playlist by myself on Apple Music)— You can work like it’s drizzling outside even when it’s 90° F and the sun is shining. Turn on a fireplace video and you can get seriously cozy.


Finding workplace harmony

The environment you create impacts the behavior you get. When deciding what sounds will fill your workday, get deliberate: test and tweak until you find the perfect harmony. The ability to do consistently great work is what’s at stake, so think before you press play.

What’s your favorite playlist to listen to while you work?


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Everything New At Apple

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Apple’s at it again.

New iPhones were front and center at Apple’s event this past Wednesday, but the company also announced a few other products and gave final dates for their new software updates. We've rounded up a couple new releases for you to decide how or how not to spend your next pay-check(s).

iPhone Xs & Xs Max and the new iPhone Xr

Apple’s 3 new iPhones include a new and improved version of the iPhone X called the iPhone Xs, a larger model of the phone called the Xs Max with a 6.5 inch screen and a new take on the (budget) iPhone 5c named the iPhone Xr that, like its 5c little brother, promises to be a little easier on our finances while still delivering flagship features. 

The number one new iPhone feature for me, as a photographer, is the new camera feature called depth control. This lets you control the new enhanced bokeh effect that has to do with that background blur you seen in photos. Essentially, portrait mode on the new iPhones is going to allow you to control after the bokeh within your photo after you shoot it. There's a slider which lets you change the equivalent f-stop which will make the background more or less blurred. Again, this is after you take the photo! I’m super excited about this I can't wait to try it out.

Another exciting feature for me today was the new smart HDR feature. Thanks to the new A12 Bionic chip, a faster sensor, and some other wizardry, your photos can now have more highlight and more shadow detail. Anything that makes your pictures look better is a good thing. I also love how Apple is using buffer frames. The camera shoots four extra frames to make sure that a moving subject isn't blurry using this new smart HDR function.

For some hands on interaction with the new Xs and Xs Max, check out Jonathan Morrison’s video below.

Apple Watch Series 4

The next installment in the Apple Watch series will include a screen that is 30% larger, a thinner housing, redesigned interface and speaker that boasts a 50% louder sound projection. A new S4 chip promises to give the watch the same all day battery life but almost double the functioning speed. However, the biggest change is the integration of new health features: Apple Watch 4 can be used to run ECGs at home, and monitor for irregular heart beats, also known as Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The watch also constantly monitors for falls, and can automatically dial emergency services if a user doesn’t get up after a fall. You can read more on the Series 4 health benefits on Apple’s website.

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Incoming Software Updates

iOS 12. This is the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system. It will be available to existing iPhone and iPad users starting today. The company previewed most of the software’s new features, which include digital wellness tools as well as an update to its augmented reality platform ARKit, and better notification management at its WorldWide Developer Conference in June.

HomePod. Apple’s smart speaker isn’t getting a hardware update just yet, but the company announced a few software tweaks: HomePod users will be able to make and receive phone calls, set multiple timers, get help to find their misplaced phone and search for songs by lyrics once they receive the next software update, which is also now available to install on your HomePod

tvOS. The AppleTV will receive its next major software update today as well. This will include previously-announced support for Dolby Atmos, as well as a revamped single sing-on functionality for TV Everywhere apps, along with some really amazing new 4K wallpapers shot from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA.

macOS. Apple is going to release the next version of is desktop operating system, dubbed macOS Mojave, on September 24th. Mojave brings new features inspired by its most powerful users but designed for everyone. Stay better focused on your work in Dark Mode. Automatically organize files using Stacks. Take more kinds of screenshots with less effort. Try four handy new built-in apps, and discover even more in the redesigned Mac App Store. Now you can get more out of every click.

Which new device or software feature are you most excited for?


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Creativity (It's Not That Magical)

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Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

Colossians 3:22-25 MSG

If we considered everything that we do an act of worship, I wonder, would it radically change the way that we spend out time? - Rich Langton (Hillsong CRTV)

In my work, I have a mantra of sorts... I penned it years ago as a senior in high school after I got my first copy of Photoshop. “He created me, so I create for Him. I am creative.” If you look at the quote above from Rich Langton, you really start to think “would I look at life differently if I knew everything that I do is ultimately an act of worship?” For me, that changed everything. Read Colossians 3:22-25 in The Message version. It ends by saying that “Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.” Now think about that. If He created me, and my job now is to create for Him... Colossians 3 demands that I give this task my all. I can’t just passively go through the motions, it’s no longer enough just to say “well I’m a follower if Jesus so I’m sure that whatever I come up with will be just fine.” No. Just because you follow Him doesn't mean that He’s okay with bad work. For us at BRIGHTIDEA.online, that means the graphics that we make, the pictures that we take, the videos and voice work that we produce... they all are trying to communicate a heart of excellence back to our client, sure. But ultimately we strive to communicate that excellence back to our creator. Anything less should be a disappointment for us.

So what about you? We realize that you aren't all designers, or photographers, or producers, or musicians... but you all have the ability to create. That is because creativity is not limited to art. Creativity is, at it’s core, solving a problem. That releases you to now create something. Maybe what you're creating is an amazing meal for your family rather than settling for a microwave dinner. Maybe it’s you taking an extra minute or two to proof read that presentation you have to give at work or re-evaluating how you care for your front yard. Or even deciding not to sweep the literal pile of dust under the rug, and going to get a broom to finish cleaning up the right way. The point to all of this is that if everything is an act of worship then all of this... even down to the smallest detail, it all matters to Him, and so should it to us.

Remember that following Jesus doesn't cover up our bad work, that creativity is not magic it is a discipline. When we see something magical, we assume that the process used to create it is also magical. When really all that it requires is a little bit off effort. Creativity is just connecting things. Sometimes we want the instant gold without the mining process.

Steve Jobs said this:

When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and create new things.

What is it that inspires you? Do you have daily routines? When you sense frustration, inside or outside of that routine, what is it that makes you keep moving forward? Figuring out how to move forward through this is being creative. The perfect situation is not necessarily perfect. We all struggle to find time to think. To let our minds just wander from time to time. For some, that time may be on your daily drive. Others may think better in the shower. Find a time that works for you. We must learn to leverage our situations and think differently.


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