How to take better iPhone photos

How to take better iPhone photos
Mac Tip #483, 20 April 2011

The iPhone’s supremely handy for taking photos and does quite a good job. But one problem I’ve always had is trying to hold the phone and press the shutter button with only one hand, while hanging onto the leads for 2 small dogs with the other. Then I read the most excellent Create Great iPhone Photos by Allan Hoffman (review coming soon) and discovered some almost magical tricks. Here are a couple I want to share.

Make MacTips Happy Month is almost at an end and 28 wonderful people donated or subscribed enough for MacTips to move to a new and better server. Thank you! We just need another $140 to get better backups and protection for the website for a year though. With 10 days left to go, will you help?

Make a one-off Donation — any amount
Note: the PayPal account is in the name of First Bite of the Apple which was the name of my business when I set up the account years ago. If it asks for an email address for me, please use

Camera isn’t the only photo app for the iPhone

Your iPhone comes with the Camera photo app already included. It’s a simple app that really does just a couple of things, depending exactly which iPhone you have. The new iPad also has a camera and includes this app.

On my iPhone 4, with iOS 4.3.2 I can do these things:

  1. Change recording mode between still and video.
  2. Press the shutter button to take a still photo or start and stop a video recording.
  3. Choose to use either the front or back camera.
  4. Switch HDR on or off. (Not on iPad2.)
  5. Change the settings for the flash: auto, on or off. (No flash on iPad2.)
  6. Tap the thumbnail of the most recent photo or video to move into the Photos app and view that photo or others.
Camera genius menu.

Camera genius menu, with Big Button, Anti Shake and Guides selected.

That’s the extent of it. If you check the App Store though you’ll find numerous other camera apps that you could use instead. The one I decided on after reading Hoffman’s book was Camera Genius for iPhone by CodeGoo (US$1.99).

I’ve used it for a few days now and love it.

A great big shutter button

One of its features is that is has numerous options that allow you to choose all kinds of settings for your photos, and a menu of options that make it easier to use the phone as a camera.

My most favourite setting is Big Button, as it turns the whole screen into the shutter button. I no longer have to contort myself to press the shutter while holding the phone in one hand.

Photo Guides help compose your shot

If you select the Guides option a fine grid appears over your screen with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines. Rather than simply putting the most interesting element of your photo in the centre, aim to put it at one of the points where the lines intersect.

The grid doesn’t appear on the photo itself, only on screen as you compose the shot.

My cat Aphra, brightened, cropped and framed.

My cat Aphra, brightened, cropped and framed.

Anti Shake waits for the phone to stop moving

The Anti Shake setting will work against you if you want to snap fast shots. But if you have more time to make your photo then it may help. After you press the shutter button the app waits until the phone’s moving as little as possible before it triggers the shutter.

Brightening the photo of Aphra.

Brightening the photo of Aphra.

Enhance the photos

After taking a photo press on the thumbnail to view it, then tap on the paintbrush icon at the bottom of the screen to enter Edit mode.

Now you can choose to apply numerous effects such as Black & White, Aged or Grunge, adjust the photo to edit Contrast, Brightness and so on, Crop and add a Frame.

Remember to Save after making any edits. Camera Genius saves both the original photo and the edited version.

Share the photos

After editing a photo you may choose to send it to Twitter or Facebook, email it to a friend or upload it to various other services. The Share button lets you send any selected photo to the service you choose with almost one tap.

After selecting one or more services you have to enter any relevant usernames and passwords, unless you’ve used that service before and have already saved the information.

Although I’ve only been using Camera Genius for a couple of days and haven’t yet tried out all its features and settings I love it. Apart from all the other great features it offers I’m thrilled with the Big Button.

And here’s a bonus tip for taking photos with the iPad 2: remember to move the Smart Cover out of the way if you have it attached. :-)

What’s your biggest annoyance or best find for taking photos with your iPhone or iPad 2? Share your favourite iPhone and iPad photography tips in the Comments at the website.

Related posts

[wpzon keywords="pressure cooker" sindex="PCHardware" snode="1232597011" sort="salesrank" listing="8"]