Your iPhone is your camera?

More people are taking photos with their iPhones than any other camera.  So why not make your phone photos the best you can.  They say the best camera is the one you have with you, which is true, but there are ways to make your iPhone photos even better.

This is kind of a trick question, but do you know what the most popular camera on the planet is?  Well, it's the iPhone.  

This is kind of a trick question, but do you know what the most popular camera on the planet is?  Well, it's the iPhone.  

The iPhone camera gets better and better with each new upgrade, but for the iPhone 6 it’s not just about hype.  It might not be "the next best thing," but it just might be the most awesome thing right now. :-)  The iPhone 6 camera has been frequently praised as the best smartphone camera to ever exist. The biggest change in the new addition of the iPhone camera is the focus pixels, which means the camera is twice as capable of focusing as the iPhone 5S.

Change Exposure Manually

Most people complain about a lack of control when using a camera phone rather than a more dedicated camera. You can actually have more control than you think with your iPhone. Sometimes, the lighting in your environment is not ideal. This isn’t a problem with the new iPhone 6 cameras’ new manual exposure control option. First, you need to tap the area on the photo that you want to be the main part if your photo.  The phone will base the exposure on this area. If the camera doesn’t accurately guess the exposure, you can use the slider to make adjustments by dragging up or down the screen.

Timer Mode

You can use the timer mode from anywhere between 3 and 10 seconds to take better group shots, different selfie angles, or hard to reach shot... and did I mention selfies?  I did?  Well, that's because you can't go anywhere without somebody pulling out a selfie sick these days.  I thought selfie sticks were sticks to hit people over the head with who were taking selfies! :-) The camera will fire off a burst when the timer reaches zero, which will give you an opportunity to choose the best photo from the bunch. This is great for combing through photos for people with closed eyes, those who weren’t ready yet, or worse yet those who close their eyes on purposes just to be butts! (I'm talking to you, daughter)

Edit Your Photos

We all (or maybe it's just me) have tons of apps on our phones for editing photos.  I have tons.  For the record, Perfectly Clear is one of my favorites, but that's not what we're talking about.  We're talking about the fact that now you can edit your photos right in the photo app already on your phone.  You can use your iPhone 6 camera to alter different exposure levels, highlights, contrast, and saturation. You can also revert your image back to the original by clicking on revert.  It's really easy.  Check out the all the new options when you push the EDIT button after taking a shot.

So there you go.  Take that camera phone out of your pocket and use it.  It probably won't replace your DSLR, but you always have it with you and you can get some great photos with it!

New iPhone Camera Even Makes Phone Calls!

So I did it... I bite the bullet and bought a new iPhone.  Maybe I shouldn't imply that there was any question.  I had mine ordered the minute they were announced and because I preordered it, it was waiting for me when I got home on launch day.  I love it... I mean, I really love it.  Yeah it's bigger, faster, thinner and lighter but I know, you're thinking... what else, as if that WASN'T ENOUGH!!!  Well, okay.  How about we mention how awesome the new camera and camera app is.

Wanna hear something crazy?  Every day, people take more photos with iPhones than with any other camera. Not just because it's so easy, but because the camera really takes good photos... and don't even get me started on video.  I don't think I'm taking videos with any of my other cameras and I have a Canon 5D, the video king of DSLRs. With the slo-mo and time-lapse features... who needs a DSLR? (Please don't tell my camera I said that.  I still love him.) So back to the iPhone.  Now, in addition to its 8MP and f/2.2 aperture, the worlds most popular camera is packed with other great new stuff. I mean, it has a super large 1.5-micron pixels... You know what that means???  Yeah, me either.

Obviously bigger is better, whether you’re talking displays or legroom on a plane or... well, let's stick with legroom on a plane. The larger format and thinness (stack two CF cards and you’re pretty much there) of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens may be the headline-grabbing feature, but the wider viewing angle, increased brightness and improved contrast of the all-new Retina HD displays is likely to make photographers more excited than our non photo-loving friends.

So let's talking about one of my favorite features.  Faster focusing! The iPhone 6’s sensor comes with phase detection autofocus built in. As you know, phase detection AF is more responsive than contrast detection AF. It uses two images seen from slightly different positions to drive the focusing mechanism, with the goal being to make those two images line up. Contrast detection is slower because it measures the focus directly from the sensor, with the goal being to find the point of maximum contrast – but it has to focus back and forth to find this point. The end result is that the iPhone 6 reportedly autofocuses twice as fast as the iPhone 5. TWICE AS FAST!

Another great feature is that you can finally do some decent tweaking (some people might call it editing) right in the photos app, and the camera now lets you adjust brightness before you take the photo by just tapping on the thing you can focus on and then dragging up/down on screen to brighten/darken. Remember when all you could do when your photo was take it!  When the iPhone really got fancy, you could take an HDR photo, but was really about as fancy as you could get without downloading third party apps.  

To access the Photo edits, click on a photo in the Photos App; tap the Edit button then tap on the dial icon. You can change the Light, Color or make a B&W. What you're seeing above is when you click Light then hit the three-line icon on the far right. Now click any setting and you get a slider for that feature and instant on-screen feedback. Nicely implemented all the way around — huge improvement.So the phone is great and the camera is super great.  Check it out and take some photos.  As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you and since we almost always have our phones with us, my iPhone is definitely my best camera.  Check it out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed, and if you are...

In London with an iPhone

As you can probably guess, I love to take pictures.  I love everything about it.  I like seeing new places. I like seeing old places in a new way.  I love to share the photos I've taken.  I love the gear and the toys.  Another thing I love is London.  Yeah, the one in England.  I've been there a few times and love it more each time I'm there.  I love the history, the culture, the architecture, the people and so much more.  It's just so classy.  When I'm there I want to eat bangers, wear a scarf and a hat, drink a scotch in a bar surrounded by rich, dark wood and ride a lift up to my room to use the loo (if you don't speak English, that means take the elevator up to my room to pee).  A few weeks ago I found out that I was going to London and Stockholm for work and immediately, I was pretty excited.  I was going to get to go to London for the first time since I've been obsessed, uh, I mean "into" photography.  The idea of being able to get up early and stroll the street of London taking photos made me giddy.  

The small size, interchangeable lens and good quality make this a great travel camera when space is an issue.

So we arrived in the early afternoon the day before we had work responsibilities, so I immediately wrangled the troops to start walking the streets, with my goal to take some great pictures.  Now because this was a work trip and I knew I wouldn't have a lot of free time and I didn't want to bother everybody else with my gear, I decided to take my Lumix GX-1 micro four thirds camera instead of my Canon 5D.  Now this camera doesn't take photos of the same quality as my Canon, but I didn't want to lug a lot of equipment around, so this was a great alternative.  It still has interchangeable lenses, so you have a lot of freedom, but all three of the lenses I brought probably weigh less than one of my Canon lenses.  I also brought two 16GB memory cards and two batteries.  I brought two batteries cause that way I'd always have one charged, and when one ran out I could just switch it with the other... always being ready to shoot (remember this statement... it's important to the story).  

So, I'm in the hotel room, freshly cleaned up from the long flight and ready to hit the streets.  I grabbed my camera bag with the gear I mentioned above and met the team outside.  "Where do we want to go," someone asked. "I don't care... let's just start walking" I said.  We crossed the street and I came upon my first red phone box.  For the record, I always thought these things were called phone booths, but I was quickly corrected by a local and told "they're a phone box, dummy!"  I took my camera off my shoulder to start shooting.  It wouldn't turn on.  Turned it off and on and no luck.  The battery was dead.  Okay, I'm a dummy, I didn't charge the battery before my trip.  Now I'm on the streets of London with a dead camera battery.  NEVER FEAR, I have a  backup!  Remember what I said.  It's important to ALWAYS carry a backup.  You never know when you'll have a situation like this.  So with an "I got this" smile on my face, I reached into my bag to pull out that spare.  Put that sucker in and got ready to start shooting.  Nothing.  Crickets.  Actually, not even crickets, cause they would at least make a chirping noise.  I had silence.  Because the backup battery wasn't changed either!!!  I know, I'm a total dummy-head.  No better way to make you look like a complete photography doofus in front of your friends then showing up with two dead batteries!  So that was it.  We only had this afternoon for free time, and i knew this was going to be my only opportunity to take shots of the city.  Charging the battery would take at least an hour and that was an hour I didn't have.  So, I put the camera back in my bag, reached into my pocket and took out my iPhone.  Yep, that's all I had now, so that was what I was going to use.  You've head the expression that the best camera is the one you have with you?  Well, it's true.  At this moment the iPhone was the best camera in the world.  Now let's be honest, the iPhone takes good photos, but you certainly don't get the control or quality you get with a more traditional camera.  You can't really control ISO, aperture or shutter speed.  You can't blow up the photos large either, but for now it was what I had, so it was going to work.  

Below are some of my favorite photos from England... all taken with my iPhone.  So enjoy the photos and when you're done, go CHARGE YOUR CAMERA BATTERIES!!!  Believe me, it's the kind of mistake that I'll only make once.  Maybe twice, but probably once.

There was no way that not having my camera with me was going to prevent me from snapping a photo of THE red phone box.  I call it a phone booth, but I was quickly corrected by locals.  Kinda funny that I took the pic of the classic old phone box with my cell phone.

Flowers... that is all.

Even with your cell phone, don't forget about b&w shots.  Black and white looks just as cool on your cell phone pics as it does on your regular camera.

What is this?  A phone booth?  NO, it's a phone box... I told you... you weren't listening.  Let's try again.  What's this?  A phone box?  Good.

This photo was taking with my phone as it was getting late in the day, so there's a lot of "noise" because the phone turns up the ISO in the dark and there's nothing you can do about it.  That's okay.  A good picture is a good picture and a little noise never hurt anybody.  You can always remove it in Lightroom or Photoshop, but in this image I kinda like it.  Helps give it that old-timey feel.

If you don't have a red phone box to shoot... shoot the red double decker bus!

Sometime to make a regular photo a little more interesting, it helps to not shoot it straight on and level.  In this case, I've seen this shot of Big Ben about a hundred million times, so I tried a different take on it.

You don't always have to shoot the entire subject when you're taking pictures.  Sometimes part of the subject can be just as, if not more interesting.

I love shooting the locals when I travel.  This wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but heck, I only had my iPhone with me and in fact, I kinda like how it turned out.

Even when shooting pictures with a cell phone, being out at the golden hour makes a huge difference. That warm, soft glow only comes from being out at the right time.

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You!

There is an old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you.  Well, I definitely believe there's some truth to that.  Therefore, the best camera for about 99% of people these days is the one on their cell phone.  Ever since phones starting shipping with built-in cameras the number of photos taken every year has increased to the hundreds of billions. Facebook alone recently reported approximately 300 million photos added every day during months in 2012. Instagram boasts 45 million photos per day and 16 billion photos shared.  So lots of people are taking photos and lots of people are taking photos with their cell phones. But if you’re frustrated with taking great shots of sunsets, or just want some ideas to improve your cell phone photos, take a look at these tips.


Now this doesn't mean to tell your subjects to go "into" the light.  That's totally something altogether different.  Smartphones and cheaper digital cameras are notorious for having lenses and image sensors that just don’t capture light as well as professional systems. The answer is, simply, to move your subject into better lighting. Who ever said you have to take a photo exactly where your subjects are standing? Move them around, arrange them closer to light sources, or turn on any available lights nearby. A window, a room light, heck, even a flashlight can work in the right situation.  The right light can make all the difference.

2. Avoid Squinting Eyes

When you are outside on a bright day, don’t have your subject facing the sun. If you do, they’re likely to be squinting. And, sunglasses don’t always make the best portraits. Unless, like mine, your sung less make you look like Maverick in Top Gun.  If you're that cool... and I am, sunglasses can work.  If sunglasses are not adding to your photo, and they're probably not, turn your subjects so the sun is to their side (not back), and, if you can, use flash to soften the shadow since most phones these days have a flash of some sort.

3. Shoot On Cloudy Days

When you get up and see clouds outside and you know you're going to be taking pictures, don't worry, cloudy days make for great photos!  When there is cloud cover, you essentially have an enormous soft box above your subjects. Cloud cover can create nice even lighting free of harsh shadow areas. Even cheap, or, eh, inexpensive cameras can take great pictures in even lighting.

4. Change Your Image Quality

Your phone should let you set the image quality of your photos. Look at the settings for your camera and set to the highest quality resolution you can. When you increase the resolution, you’ll use up the memory on your phone a lot quicker. But if you want higher quality images to work with, and possibly make prints from, you’ll want to max out the camera’s capable resolution.

5. Make Sure Your Image Is In Focus

Now I'm about to share a tip with you that will change your phone photography life.  This is a doozy that most people don't know.  It will, without a doubt, help you take better pictures and let you know why some of those photos that you love aren't turning out.  Now this is true on the iPhone, but I can't guarantee it's use on other cell phones.  On the iPhone, your camera is taking the photo when you take your finger OFF the shutter button, not when you initially push it.  That means to take a faster, in focus photo, you can put your finger on the button and then release it when you're ready to capture the image.  The camera will respond much faster, take the exact image you want and it will most likely be more in focus because you won't have moved your camera thinking the photo was taken when you initially pushed the button.  Unless you’re looking to create moody, Impressionistic types of images that lack detail, you’ll want to be sure your camera is in focus before taking the shot. Watch the LCD display. Wait for the subject to be in focus. Then take the shot.

6. Download A Camera App

I counted... there are officially 1,352,746 camera apps available in iTunes.  Many of them are garbage, but a lot of them can really help you take your photos to the next level. Apps can help you selectively focus areas in your image, control exposure, color balance, and even make your subjects look like cartoons, if for some reason you wanted to do that. I’ve messed around with several for the iPhone including Camera+, ProCamera, and even the program I talked about last week, Perfectly Clear, has a iPhone version that is really good and can really do wonders to your photos.

I hope these tips give you some ideas. If you’ve got additional questions on taking better photos with your smartphone, send me an email, otherwise, get out there and take some photos... with whatever camera you have with you.