Bronte Rock Pool, 5:42am, iPhone XS Max, native camera

Top tips for taking better summer pics on your iPhone

2nd January 2019 12:07 PM
UPDATED 8:42 PM
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ENVY. It can be a  powerful emotion, fuelled well by photos of others enjoying their summer holidays.

Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook at this time of the year, you see some cracking photos and many of them are taken just using a smartphone.

So what's the secret of creating great pictures with a good phone?

Australian photographer and Instagrammer Samah El Ali shares some of her best tips.

1. Shoot during "magic hour" for even better results

 Bondi Beach, 6:56am, iPhone XS Max, native camera
Bondi Beach, 6:56am, iPhone XS Max, native camera Samah El Ali

Magic hour is a term used by photographers for images captured at sunrise (and just after) or at sunset (and just before).

The golden glow creates a stunning mood and will turn any location into a gorgeous visual.

Bronte Rock Pool, 5:42am, iPhone XS Max, native camera
Bronte Rock Pool, 5:42am, iPhone XS Max, native camera Samah El Ali

Manually Focus and Expose

Manually focusing/exposing gives you full creative control and will allow you to achieve more desirable results to suit your aesthetic.

Tapping on your screen, on or close to the sun, which will result in a perfectly round sun.

If you feel your scene is underexposed (too dark), you can tap and hold, then scroll up/down until to adjust exposure.

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, 7:20pm, iPhone XS Max, native camera
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, 7:20pm, iPhone XS Max, native camera Samah El Ali

Shooting directly towards the sun with a subject in the foreground will create strong silhouettes.

Shooting with the sun on the edge of your frame during magic hour results in even stunning light across the whole image - especially great for wave shots!

Flip your phone upside down and manually focus if you want to focus on an object in the foreground.

2. Experiment with Long Exposures

Long Exposures are a great way to turn an ordinary scene into a moody capture.

SlowShutter is a user friendly app with various settings that allow you to achieve different results. 

In order to achieve a long exposure, you will need a tripod, but if you can lean your phone on a rock in a low wind area, it could work too!

Ensure Capture Mode in the settings is set to "Motion Blur".

Experiment with the blur strength until you're satisfied with the result - a good starting point is to set between middle and high.
 

Bronte Rock Pool, 5:52am, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter
Bronte Rock Pool, 5:52am, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter

 

Fort Denison from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, 7:48pm, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter
Fort Denison from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, 7:48pm, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter Samah El Ali

 

Bronte Beach, 6:04am, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter
Bronte Beach, 6:04am, iPhone XS Max, SlowShutter


Another easy way to achieve a long exposure on an iPhone is by taking a live photo and transforming it with one click!


Live Photo Long Exposure Steps:

- Open native camera on your iPhone
- Tap the circle icon (top row, next to flash) to turn on "Live" photo
- Take a photo where there is movement in the water, such as waves
- Open the image in your Photos Album
- Scroll up - you will see an option for 3 different effects: loop, bounce and long exposure
- Tap long exposure and voila!

3. Take Your Phone for a Dip!

Whether you're enjoy a summers day by the beach or in a pool, or you happen to come across a deep puddle, underwater or over/under shots are fun to capture and allow you to create and share fresh perspectives.

Tip: I have used a couple of different water housing cases over the years, but my favourite and personal recommendation for protecting my iPhone is the AxisGo water housing by AquaTech.

Bondi Beach, 8:35am, shot on iPhone XS, native camera
Bondi Beach, 8:35am, shot on iPhone XS, native camera

4. 2x Optical Zoom

Ever been disappointed when you review a photo you took from a distance and notice you've zoomed in far too much and it's pixelated or blurry?

If like my iPhone XS Max, your iPhone has a dual-lens, take control of your zoom by using 2x Optical Zoom!

Simply tap on the 1x, bottom centre of your frame until it says 2x. It's ideal for subjects that are further away, such as surfers without having to compromise on quality!

Bondi Beach, shot on iPhone XS Max, native camera, optical zoom
Bondi Beach, shot on iPhone XS Max, native camera, optical zoom Samah El Ali

5. Rainy Day? No worries!

During summer, storms can be expected, but it doesn't mean there are less opportunities to create or capture memorable moments.

Look for puddles where you can compose cool reflection shots, keeping in mind it is best to turn your phone upside down so the camera is closest to the water and almost perfect symmetry can be achieved.

Traffic in Sydney, shot on iPhone XS Max, native camera, portrait mode
Traffic in Sydney, shot on iPhone XS Max, native camera, portrait mode Samah El Ali