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The Complete Guide to iPhone Photography

The Complete Guide to iPhone Photography

Welcome to a brief introduction into the world of iPhone photography. This quick guide includes a collection of advice obtained from professionals, friends, and personal experience. Whether you’d like to shoot DSLR quality photos or just step up your Instagram game, this complete guide will cover all aspects to developing your iPhone photos.

Developing a Niche

The first step towards improving the quality of your photos is to develop a niche. Make an Instagram account, not only to share your photography but to follow photographers who emulate a style or part of a style you intend to incorporate. Most photographers have a signature style and there are literally hundreds of different ways to shape your work. There is food photography, fashion, lifestyle, landscapes, nature, urban, portraits, black & white, multiple exposure, just to name a few. Your niche does not have to be something new or original, it should however represent your personality. Start taking photos of anything you think would make a good photograph, it does not have to be perfect. Go through your photo album and search for any patterns. Some photos will catch your eye and leave a stronger impression than others. Developing a niche aids in focusing your creative energy and eases the transition into taking quality photos. Think of it as a starter template. Once you know what you like you can start to add and adjust to create the perfect photograph.

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    Environmental Adjustments

    Many photographers know the best time to shoot is during golden hour. Golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. But before you start scheduling all your shoots during golden hour, practice shooting under all types of lighting. Light enters through the iPhone camera lens and an image is recorded on a light-sensitive medium. Too much light or too little can over-illuminate or dull your photo and cause you to lose clarity, colors, and tones. Here are some ways to adjust your position for natural lighting:

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    • During golden hour you can basically shoot in any direction. You can shoot facing the sun, away from the sun, or with the sun to the side of you.
    • During the day try to shoot facing away from the sun. It is difficult to shoot in an angle that is facing the sun or with the sun to the side of you without ruining composition.
    • At night the lack of natural lighting will cause most of your photos to come out grainy and underexposed. Avoid using your phone’s flash and try to find an external light source.

    Technical Adjustments

    What makes the iPhone so popular is that the technical design is universal and user friendly. Here are some tips everyone can apply to instantly improve their iPhone photography.

    • Go to Settings, scroll down to your “Photos & Camera” tab, switch on grid mode so you can shoot your photos while accurately applying the golden ratio aka Fibonacci spiral or use the rule of thirds.
    • Turn off flash, always try to use an external or natural light source.
    • In low light situations, tapping on darker sections of your screen will increase exposure and focus.
    • Avoid using zoom, the iPhone camera does not actually zoom but rather enlarges the image.
    • Focus on alignment, for example the horizon and your subject.
    • When shooting horizontally or vertically, make sure the camera lens is on the edge that is pointing up.
    • Take a horizontal and a vertical shot so you’ll have options later.
    • The best way to hold your phone is to take your left hand and make a fist with your thumb sticking out like you’re giving a thumbs up. Now rest your phone on your left hand for stability while you shoot with your right.
    • Make sure it all feels comfortable to you. Whether your arms are at your sides or your arms are in front of you. Find stable, inanimate objects like a bench or a table to rest your elbows and forearms on.
    • Get comfortable with your breathing, take the shot in-between breaths.
    • Get low, get on one knee. Shooting from a lower angle can give you a different perspective than from eye level. A photo from a low angle can make the subject look dominant, a photo from a high angle can make the subject look dainty.
    • Purchase an iPhone lens. Here’s an inexpensive lens I purchased recently. Research your options before you go purchase one of each type of lens or an expensive lens. Its always a good idea to start with low budget equipment, have a grasp for using it, then move on to more expensive equipment.

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      Editing

      A finished product is 30% actually taking the photo and 70% editing. There are many apps that support editing photos directly on the iPhone. I have a ton of FREE photo editing apps on my phone, sometimes I use more than 5 apps to edit one photo! The 2 free apps I recommend are VSCO and Priime. I found these two apps to be highly effective and user friendly for complete beginners. Although both apps are great stand alone photo editing products, I suggest using multiple apps in tandem when editing your photos. Editing photos can be time consuming, but fun and rewarding. Here’s some information to ease you into basic editing.

      • Before conducting any edits, increase the brightness for your phone screen to 100%. If possible, try to edit in a dark room and then critique under different lights.
      • Increasing a few aspects like exposure, sharpness, and shadows can increase the quality of any photo.
      • Make small adjustments by working slowly and subtly. Remember that you want to bring out the best qualities of the photo by using the elements in the photo rather than creating artificial ones.
      • Don’t follow the same editing template for each photo, each photo requires its own unique touch and care.
      • Have a second or third opinion critique your edit.
      • Compare your work with your favorite photos and photographers. Identify the similarities, what your photo did best and how your photo can be improved.
        All photos were shot and edited on the iPhone 6 by Benjamin Kim.

        Final Thoughts on iPhone Photography

        If you’re not a big fan of the iPhone, here are some great alternatives.

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        • The Galaxy S7 edge has 12 megapixels with excellent low light performance.
        • The LG G5 has a whopping 16 megapixels and a built in 135mm wide angle lens!

        As smartphones continue to develop their camera technology, I predict in the near future that society will become more interested in DIY photography and film. Taking quality photos on the iPhone or any smartphone is not a difficult task and is an activity that everyone can participate, master, and enjoy.

        Featured photo credit: Benjamin Kim via instagram.com

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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