Yet Another 25 Tips for Mastering iPhone Photography

Dear iPhoneographers and TMO readers: my first two installments, “25 Tips for Mastering iPhone Photography” and “25 More Tips for Mastering iPhone Photography” were well received, thank you. People who are passionate about technology and photography tips, tricks, and techniques are always hungry for more. I have thousands for you, but for the time being, I offer you yet another twenty-five tips for mastering iPhone photography.

51.) As you peruse your iPhone photos, concentrate on those that really strike you. Throw out the ones that don’t reveal a theme or subject, the accidental shots of your feet or your finger, the blurred, the meaningless, etc. Keep paring down your keepers, then edit and process those if you need to and enhance those aspects of the photos that are already great.

52.) The more you shoot, the more chances you have of you getting that winning shot. 

An iPhone screen showing the setup for shooting a square photo

In the Camera app, swipe left or right to get to the Square photo format

53.) Consider experimenting with your iPhone camera’s Square photo format in iOS 7. It’s not just for posting to the square-happy Instagram online photo-sharing service. The square format has been around for many years - used primarily by professional commercial and fine-art film photographers as well as by advanced amateurs. Try it. You will find that many of your compositions work best within a square format. 

54.) When going over your iPhone photos, are there any whose message can be enhanced by adding a certain “feel” via processing?

The top toolbar of the Camera app

The center button depicts the HDR Mode currently enabled. Tapping on it allows you to choose modes

55.) If you’re iPhone is up-to-date with iOS software, you should see the Auto HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature while in the Camera App. Consider keeping this enabled for more dynamic range overall. I have written more extensively on the topic of HDR in my article “How to Do HDR Photography on Your iPhone, and Why You Should” right here on TMO.

The Photos & Camera Settings panel

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Photos & Camera Settings panel to get to the HDR setting

Next: Settings, Backups, More Backups, Travel, and Lists

Part 2 - Settings, Backups, More Backups, Travel, and Lists

56.) If shooting HDR on your iPhone, go to Settings > Photos & Camera and enable Keep Normal Photo. This will have your camera save both the normal and the HDR versions of your photos in the Camera Roll.

57.) It’s likely that your photos are so important you’d run back into a house fire to rescue them. That is, before going after your Hummel collection, right? In the meantime, you’re happy knowing that you’re photos are properly backed up, right? Well, you should seriously consider a SECOND backup. Drives are cheap. Keep this backup at a remote location; a friend’s house or a bank safety deposit box. Refresh this backup periodically.

58.) If you take your laptop with you on your iPhone photo shoots, use it to offload your photos from your device. If you then delete them from the iPhone in order to make room, your images on the laptop can not be considered to be backed-up. Give serious thought to taking along a small portable USB drive for this task. Oh, and avoid storing the drive in the same bag as your laptop.

59.) You CAN use your iPhone exclusively for handling your travel photography. I’ve done it on a recent trip to Italy. I was so pleased with the results that I won’t hesitate to do this again on my next trip. Leaving all my “big guns” DSLR gear behind… well, it was liberating!

60.) Before travel, keep a list of the gadgets  essential to your iPhone photography. If you don’t, it’s a sure bet you will forget that one item you really, really need.

The three products mentioned below

The Anker Astro3 12000mAh External Battery Charger, the  Mophie Juice Pack Plus,
and the dual voltage PS2 Travel Power Strip by Voltage Valet

Next: Power, Balance, Tags, Saying Thanks, Photo Sites, Inspirations, and Adjustments

Part 3 - Power, Balance, Tags, Saying Thanks, Photo Sites, Inspirations, and Adjustments

61.) To state the obvious, power for battery charging is a critical requirement when shooting lots of photos with your iPhone. Particularly when abroad, don’t always assume that power outlets are freely available. Many cruise ships and hotels are notorious for a paucity of outlets.

Three power accessories that I use and endorse are key to any kind of travel I engage in. One is the dual voltage (120V/240V) PS2 Travel Power Strip by Voltage Valet. I also carry two battery backup devices. The Mophie Juice Pack Plus is a 2100mAh battery case for the iPhone 5s. This and other models are available for older iPhones. I also carry an Anker Astro3 12000mAh External Battery Charger. It has multiple USB ports and is very handy for keeping my iPad and other devices charged up.

62.) While remembering that all composition “rules” can be broken in order to achieve your vision, think of your images in terms of balance. For example, is you’re main subject located in one corner of the frame? Think about balancing the composition by placing something of interest in the opposite corner.

63.) If you tag or keyword your images, overdoing it will drive you crazy and cause you to prematurely abandon the practice out of frustration. Unless you are shooting for the purpose of selling stock photography, take a minimalist approach to tagging. The best way to start tagging is to think of and use the words YOU use when you need to find a particular images. Be consistent when assigning your keywords. That will ensure that your tagging strategy will be successful.

64.) Way back in tip 13, I mentioned that it’s important to always offer constructive feedback when commenting on other iPhoneographers’ images. Just as important, always respond to those people who took the time to comment and critique your posted photos. A simple “thank you” can make a world of difference.

65.) Speaking of photo-sharing sites, it’s probably best for you to be active on no more than two or three. Whether it be Flickr, Instagram or other services,  pick a favorite, and maximize your presence and contributions there.

66.) Are you inspired by someone else’s iPhoneography “feel” and style? It’s perfectly alright to adopt it, but give it your own spin. Use it as a starting point for the development of your own unique style.

67.) To master photography on your iPhone, you need to learn and understand how to quickly adjust exposure and focus. Learn how to lock these settings by pressing and holding on your iPhone’s screen where you need them applied. Once locked, you can recompose your shot.

The iPhoto for iOS screen

iPhoto for iOS is one of many photo editing apps that gets you started with
the basic tools before moving on to more advanced ones

Next: Settings, Filters, Less-Is-More, Photo Apps, Feedback, Philosophy

Part 4 - Settings, Filters, Less-Is-More, Photo Apps, Feedback, Philosophy

68.) If you intend to use post-processing apps on your iPhone photos, be sure you first learn how to make and set essential adjustments such as brightness, contrast and color saturation. With that understanding under your belt, go ahead and explore the many and more advanced effects and filters available to you.

69.) The easiest way to ruin a good image captured with your iPhone is to willy-nilly apply strong or multiple filters - particularly vintage filters.

70.) Use effect filters and presets provided in photo apps as starting points for developing your own image’s “look and feel.”

A landscape photo with effect filters applied

With all the filters available to you in photo apps, let your imagination and inspiration guide you (iPhone 5, Cardano Al Campo, Italy)

71.) Good photo apps will offer “strength” adjustment sliders with effects and filters. Use the “less-is-more” principle when applying these to your images, by using the minimum strength setting initially, then making small incremental adjustments.

72.) After editing and processing apps on your iPhone, consider organizing them into their own album. Name it something like “Completed” or “Edited.” This is particularly important if you take many photos - and you should, of course. Using albums in the Photos app makes it easy when looking for particular photos, instead of endless scrolling through your Camera Roll.

73.) Use photo apps that maintain their own intermediate storage library as a staging area for further processing. 

For example, the Camera+ app (by Tap Tap Tap) has it’s own photo library - called the Lightbox - which can hold the images you are working on. It’s a perfect way to temporarily store images for additional processing in Camera+. You are given the option to also save images to your Camera Roll, which is how I set it. Alternatively, you can save and share independently directly from the app’s Lightbox. 

One caution when using an app’s internal photo library: if and when you delete the app from your iPhone, heed the warning about the potential loss of your app’s data, which of course, includes those images stored in that library.

74.) Do you find that you really like and often use one or more photo apps on your iPhone? Do the developer a huge favor: give the app a thoughtfully expressed positive review. To help fellow iPhoneographers, be as detailed and fair as you can when sharing the things you like (and don’t like) about the app.

75.) Consider the camera in your iPhone as if it were an expensive DSLR. You'll never realize the iPhone’s true potential if you only use your iPhone to take superficial snapshots and silly selfies (as President Obama and Vice President Biden recently did). 

There you have it - some more good tips to guide your iPhoneography adventures. Will we get to 100 tips? Here’s my promise: I will have given you 100 tips by the time I reach my 100th article here on TMO this summer.