Learn how to take expert photos with your iPhone


Quite a few years ago now I bought myself a fancy digital SLR camera. It takes great photos, often in spite of me. I have a zoom lens so I can get great shots of distant objects.

The problem with these cameras, as everyone knows, is that they’re quite heavy and bulky. While I might take it with me for specific events I’ve actually found that I use my iPhone camera a whole lot more. The reason is that I always have my iPhone with me and it takes only a moment to pull it out to grab a quick shot of a cute cat, an interesting bird, or a street sign.

A photo app revelation

The camera on the original iPhone wasn’t that great but it was quick and easy to use. My new iPhone 4 actually has a pretty reasonable camera and I take quite a lot of photos or videos with it.

But now I have a bit of a confession to make. In spite of being pretty clued up about Macs, iPhones and the like, it had never occurred to me that there might be specialised apps for taking photos on the iPhone. I had used only the built-in app that Apple provides, and one that sends the photos straight to Posterous.

Create Great iPhone Photos

Create Great iPhone Photos.

Create Great iPhone Photos.
Apps, Tips, Tricks, and Effects
by Allan Hoffman
January 2011, 224 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59327-285-2
4-color
US$29.95 Print Book and FREE Ebook
US$23.95 Ebook (PDF, Mobi, and ePub)

That all changed a couple of weeks ago after I read Create Great iPhone Photos — Apps, Tips, Tricks, and Effects, by Alan Hoffman, a book from No Starch Press.

The publisher sent me a review copy and after some delays, where life intervened, I started reading.

This 224 page book is extremely helpful for anyone who uses the camera on their iPhone.

You own the world’s most versatile, customizable camera: your iPhone. Out of the box, your iPhone camera is no-frills, but you can transform it into a digital darkroom, photo editing suite, and photoblogging tool all rolled into one … if you know how to use it.

Create Great iPhone Photos shows you how to take great iPhone photographs — and even turn your not-so-hot photos into inventive, atmospheric images. Author and iPhone photographer Allan Hoffman shows you how to harness the full potential of your iPhone’s camera and turn it into a wildly fun tool for photographic creativity. You’ll learn tips and tricks for generating effects, applying filters, and manipulating your images with innovative apps — all right on your iPhone.

I have simple needs

I must confess that I didn’t read every word of the book, because there are some things that just don’t appeal to me personally. For example, I don’t really want to give my photos a grunge appearance, make them black and white or sepia, nor am I likely to ever want to print a photo.

But those are just me — I’m really more likely to take straightforward, “boring” snaps of cute cats and dogs or things I see while I’m out and about in the world.

I don’t have a MobileMe account, don’t use Flickr much, don’t really like Facebook and already have a system for sending pictures to Twitter when I want to. So those sections, although surely helpful for others, weren’t of deep interest for me.

The basics counted for me

No, I was more riveted by the early chapters: how to work with the camera and photo albums, and some extraordinarily helpful info about alternative apps for using the camera on the phone.

Some Camera Genius options.

Some Camera Genius options.

Based on some very thorough discussion of photography apps I bought a couple that I’ve been using ever since.

The one I chose for myself, Camera Genius (NZ$1.29), gives me an anti-shake option, the ability to use the whole screen as the shutter button, some guide lines to help me with composition, a timer, the ability to use Burst mode and some other features.

I now reach for this app first when I want to take photos, and I’ve been very happy with the results.

I also downloaded an app for taking panoramas, although to be honest, I haven’t actually used it yet.

Use the iPhone camera to its utmost

I found this book superb, and immediately thought of several people in my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances who I knew would find it useful. The iPhone camera is so handy, and so easy to use, it only makes sense to use it to its utmost. And that’s what this book enables you to do.

Edit photos in camera.

Edit photos in camera.

Whether you’re like me and want to take fairly plain, ordinary snaps of life around you, or whether you’re into adding all kinds of fancy effects to your photos this book will help you do it.

I found it clearly written and easy to read, and chock full of really helpful information. Its guidance on apps has been invaluable to me. Hoffman didn’t just explain what similar but different apps did, but explained how to choose the best app for a particular use.

I think that if you ever have used or ever will use the camera on your iPhone or iPad you should read this book and follow its guidance.

With this book as a guide you will enjoy your iPhone camera more, and take much better photos, whatever kind of photos you like to produce.

A follow-up post

I have now passed this book on to a friend who I know will benefit enormously from it. But there was one condition: in a few weeks she will contribute a follow-up article talking about how the book changed how she uses her iPhone camera. She takes a lot of photos and I’m looking forward to hearing her response to this book.

Buy the book for more fun with your iPhone camera

Or the camera in your iPad, because everything in the book applies to that device too.

Create Great iPhone Photos is clear, helpful, beautifully printed and easy to read. However you use your iPhone camera this book will help you get better pictures. And that means more fun, and a happier day. And who doesn’t want a bit more happy in their day?

If you’ve read this book please tell us in the comments how it has helped you.

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