The iPhone, as we know, has no manual and leaves it to us to figure things out. That’s fine. The camera works. Open the app, click the white button and take a picture, right?
True, but what about all those secret features that Apple never told us about? I’ve come across a lot of them just by using the camera all the time and figuring things out, so I thought I’d pass on 10 of my favorites here.
1. Stop action with burst mode
The iPhone is not a full-service large camera like a Sony or Nikon. But believe it or not, you can stop action if you use Burst mode. Shoot lots of shots in quick succession, and this will work wonders on a football game, jump shot, you name it.
How you do that: Place your finger on the white shutter button and pull it to the left. It takes skill to master this one, so PLEASE NOTE: if you press the white button instead of swiping, it will start recording a video. Ignore and swipe.
You will immediately hear the shutter start clicking.
There is another surefire method. First you need to go to SETTINGS, scroll down to Camera, open it and make sure Use Volume Up for Burst is checked. Then rotate the camera to the horizontal position and use the top left volume button as a shutter. Hold it down and you’re in burst mode.
2. Take photos and videos at the same time
Enter video mode, click the red record button and start recording. A white shutter button for photos appears on the screen. Click the white button while recording and photos go straight to your camera roll. This works a lot better than the old method, which I’ve done a lot. Take a (fuzzy) screenshot and then crop it.
3. Mirror selfie camera to stop backward text
Don’t you hate it when you wear a lettered shirt and the Selfie photo has the letters on backwards? There’s an easy fix for this, and it’s also in the Settings menu. General/Camera and swipe down to Composition. Make sure “Mirror Front Camera” is not clicked, and your words will look like you saw them.
4. Sweep people out of your shot
I have two methods here, the free way and the paid version. Free brings us to Apple’s feature called “Live Photos”, which was originally a gimmick for adding a few seconds of video to your photos. (Hence Live!) There’s also an option in Live for “Long Exposure,” which I usually use for photos of water, and to make the water silky and smooth. Try it out on people to get rid of them for a while, as noted in the shot above. It’s hit and miss, but sometimes when you reach for the feature, they disappear!
The paid option is called an app Photo Eraser, and it works well. Just open the photo, press your finger on the area you want to dig and draw on it, then the app will do its magic. However, the cost is $2.99 weekly – or more than $150 per year.
5. Better selfies with Timer
It’s hard to stick your arm out and get the shot you want while also reaching for the shutter button. My better way is to use the Timer, hidden in the camera menu, set it to 10 seconds and have time to relax and compose your shot. (Again, the menu is accessed by opening the Camera app, clicking Photo, then the carrot in the top center of the screen. Scrolling from left to right: you’ll pass Flash, Night Mode, Live, Styles, Aspect Ratio, Exposure Control and finally you will find the timer.)
6. Fix lighting
The iPhone is great at taking perfect photos. They’re not blurry and they’re perfectly exposed because auto always does everything right. Until it doesn’t work anymore. The hidden menu (click the carrot in the top center of the photo menu) opens a drop-down list of options, one of which is Exposure Control. I use it all the time. This allows me to brighten the image by two F-stops or darken it by two F-stops.
Real-time use case: I was shooting a stained glass window in Half Moon Bay and the iPhone wanted to light up the entire scene, making the glass too light for us to see the walls as well. No, I just wanted the stained glass to look great. So I opened up the exposure tool and brought it all the way down. Vastly improved recording with richer colors!
7. Find photos more easily
How many people have you seen mention a photo and then scroll through their iPhone to find it and show it to you? There’s a better way. But setting it up takes some effort.
First, try tagging people who have been photographed many times. Open the image of a person in the camera roll and click the “I” button at the bottom of the screen, which is located between the trash can on the right and the Heart tab next to it.
A small circle can now be seen at the bottom left of the photo. Click on it and get the drop-down menu, which encourages you to name the person. Do this and next time you want to find the photo look for Albums (between For You and Search), open it, go to People and the photos should be waiting for you there.
8. Take a portrait photo in portrait mode
Portrait mode is ideal for shooting people with a professional background blur. There are six preset looks in Portrait mode, ending with High-Key Light Mono, a black and white look that adds a pure white background to your photo. If you don’t mind a black and white portrait shot (and why would you? It pops off the screen), you can remove the background and get a professional look from your iPhone.
9. Change the crop of a photo after taking it
You took a normal photo and upon reflection you want to convert it into a square image afterwards. No problem. Click Edit in the Camera Roll, Crop, then look at the main menu and a series of 3 squares. Click on it and now you can convert it to Square or other formats.
10. Dramatically improve photos with Edit
I can make any iPhone photo look much better in seconds just by clicking the Edit tab in the top right corner of the photo. Here I get several options, but they are all a variation of increased or decreased exposure and contrast. My go-to tools are the Wand, an automatic feature that brightens the image, and the Black Point slider, which boosts the colors. Try it.
Doc Rock On the show this week, my friend Doc Rock joined me to discuss these 10 tips in depth. It’s a fun show – please tune in and watch!
To see more of my iPhone tips and tricks, visit my full one hour course on KelbyOne.comfor only $29.99.