If you’ve been reading along with the iPhone Photography posts on my blog, you are going to love this one as it is the most crucial part of taking high quality iPhone photos. So let’s dive right into it. The two most important elements to taking crisp, high-quality iPhone photos are:
Focus basically refers to the clear and sharply defined condition of a photo. If the subject is not clear and sharp, we say the photo is ‘out of focus’. One thing that’s difficult to reverse once the photo is taken is the Focus. The lighting, colors and most other things can be fixed with editing, but its really hard to fix a photo that is blurry and where the subject is not in focus.
Exposure is essentially the amount of light entering your camera. We usually refer to exposure in terms of how dark or light a photo is. Although it seems pretty straightforward to take a photo with the correct exposure, in reality it can be quite tricky to achieve.
Now that we understand these two terms well, lets talk about how we can adjust the exposure and focus using your iPhone camera in 3 easy steps to get high-quality photos:
The iPhone camera has the ability to auto-focus. The iPhone camera sets the focus automatically based on what it thinks is more important in the scene and this works in most cases. However if you are serious about iPhone photography, I’d highly recommend setting the focus manually. And guess what? Its extremely easy to manually set the focus in your iPhone camera. First decide on which part of your photo you want the focus to be. For example in the photo below, I want to focus on the pink flower on the left. To set the focus, just tap on the screen in the part that you want to focus. So here I need to tap on the pink flower. When you do this, you can see a yellow box appear denoting the area that is now in focus which means that the focus is now set.
One thing to keep in mind is the iPhone resets the focus each time you take a photo or if there is any movement in the scene. To avoid this, you can lock the focus of your iPhone camera. To do this, tap and hold your finger on the area that you want to lock the focus on. When the focus is locked you will see a AE/AF LOCK message appear on the screen along with the yellow square. This means that the focus and exposure is locked in the yellow square area. If you want to unlock the focus at any time, just tap on any other part of the screen.
As I said before the AE/AF lock sets the focus and exposure for your photo based on where you tap your finger in the scene. If you have iOS 8 or higher, you can manually control the exposure using the exposure sliders. As in the previous step, when you tap and hold to lock the exposure in the scene, you can see a little sun icon that appears on the yellow square. If you press on the sun icon and drag your finger up or down, you can increase or decrease the exposure in that area. So in the video below, you can see that as I drag my finger up on the sun icon slider, the exposure is increasing and the photo is getting lighter. And as I drag my finger down the sun icon slider, the exposure is decreasing and the photo is darker. You can play around with the slider until you find the sweet spot with the exposure.
Here's the video demonstrating this: [View the video in HD mode by selecting 720p]
Once you feel like you have the focus and exposure just right, click on the shutter icon to capture the photo.
If you haven’t updated your software to iOS 8, I highly recommend doing so as the exposure slider is a really powerful tool to have for your iPhone photography.
To update your iOS, go to Settings > General > Software Update and install the latest OS version. This will enable the exposure sliders for your iPhone camera.
Learning how to control the exposure and focus has been a huge step in my iPhone photography journey. I‘ll be sharing more advanced techniques to control the exposure and focus in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. I hope you found this tutorial useful and if you are interested in learning more about exposure and how to take high quality photos straight from your iPhone then click below to sign up for my FREE 7-day e-mail course: Mastering iPhone Photos!