iOS 8: Manually Adjusting Your iPhone Camera's Exposure

For a while now, we’ve been able to tap on our iOS screen when we’re about to take a picture to say, “Hey, camera, this subject that I’m touching? Make it the star of the show.” To see what I mean, check out these two images. In the first one, I opened the Camera app and tapped on a flower on the table runner; in the second, I chose a key on my keyboard.

See how the camera attempted to focus and expose for the item I’d tapped on my screen? That’s pretty useful, obviously, but this feature becomes even more critical when you’re trying to take pictures in varying light conditions. We’ve all seen our share of completely overexposed sunset shots, for example, and using this trick can help you avoid that problem.

Another way you can force the Camera app to do your bidding is by holding down on whatever object you’d like to focus on instead of tapping on it. If you do that for a couple of seconds, you’ll see “AE/AF Lock” appear at the top of your camera window.

This means that no matter where you move your device, the app will keep the same exposure and focus that you set (and won’t attempt to adjust for, say, changing light conditions) until you tap the screen again to turn the lock off. I find this especially handy when I’m taking pictures of fast-moving kiddos, as it can help to keep the center of attention exactly where I need it. 

That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what’s new in iOS 8, Melissa? Well, I’ll tell you, Captain Impatient. Now if you tap to set the focal point (or if you turn on the AE/AF Lock), you can then drag up or down anywhere on the screen to adjust your exposure (you’ll see a slider appear).

Got that? Tap once to set the focus, and then drag up and down to manually change the exposure. Easy peasy! In fact, I’m going to go around and underexpose every picture I take just because I can.

I’m calling this Funereal Flower No. 4, and I fully expect to be a nationally recognized artist by next week. You can all say you knew me when.