10 iPhone Camera Tricks For Every Lazy Girl

If you've ever tried to take a photo in a dark bar only to have the image come out grainy and, well, dark, you're not alone. iPhone cameras have advanced rapidly over the years but aren't known for performing their best in low-light conditions.

Since many of us use our phone as our primary picture-taking tool instead of lugging around a separate camera, finding a way to bypass tricky lighting situations is a must. Luckily, a new era of iPhone photographers — professionals who also make their iPhone their primary camera — has figured out the keys to taking stunning photos with their smartphones.

Click through for the best ways to take photos of any scene, from street graffiti to running water, that will earn you Instagram "likes" in the thousands.


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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Really Emphasize A Photo's Shadows
If you want to make a photo darker so that shadows will contrast with the rest of the scene, use the camera's built-in exposure compensation, says professional photographer Pei Ketron. Tap your camera screen and press the little sun icon. Then bring your finger down to lower the exposure.

This also works if you're out on a super sunny day and want a slightly darker photo.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You're Taking A Photo On A Snowy Day
When you're taking a photo on a snowy day, your iPhone interprets everything as very bright because of the whiteness of the snow, Ketron says. To balance that brightness, your camera will show colors as gray. To bring out the pure white of the snow, Ketron will tap the screen, press the sun icon, and increase her exposure compensation.

Increasing the exposure also works well when you're taking a photo of someone in front of a window, Ketron says. In that case, the sun coming through the glass can darken a person's face. Tap the person's face and raise the exposure to brighten their features.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@sweatengine.
You're Taking A Photo At Night
Whether you're taking a photo in a dark bar or at a nighttime party outdoors, poor lighting (or total lack thereof) can work against you. But there are a couple of easy solutions. The Cortex Camera app is especially helpful in low light, because it will get rid of all the "noise" in your photo, making images appear sharper and less grainy, says iPhone photographer Kevin Lu.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@sweatengine.
You Could Use Some Extra Light
Lu's other solution for low light conditions involves having a friend on hand. Instead of investing in pricey and oftentimes heavy additional light fixtures, have a friend turn on their phone's flashlight and shine it on your subject's face.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Make Running Water Look Smoother
To give water a cool, blurred effect, many iPhone photographers use the Cortex Camera app ($3). The app takes dozens of photos in rapid succession and combines them to create one image. This combination makes running water appear silky smooth and offers a nice texture contrast to trees and other non-moving parts of nature around it.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Capture A Splash
Burst Mode is your best friend for action shots. Pressing and holding down the shutter (either the onscreen button, or the volume up button on the side of your phone) activates Burst, which takes multiple photos in a matter of seconds. From there, you can choose which photo captured the moment perfectly, as Ketron did with this dreamy splash of water.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Take The Perfect Stride-By Shot
Burst Mode is also ideal for Instagrammers who want a stride-by shot in front of graffiti or against another wall. That's how Petron took this influencer-worthy photo in San Francisco's James Turrell Skyspace.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Can't Fit An Entire Scene In Your Photo
If you've ever tried to take a picture of a mural or street scene but couldn't back up far enough to get everything that you wanted in your photo, it's time to use a lens accessory. Ketron prefers the Moment Wide Lens ($100), which easily attaches to your iPhone camera and squeezes in double the landscape.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Capture Close-Up Detail
To showcase the details on the coins in the upper-right corner, Ketron used a technique known as tap and hold. In your camera app, decide where you want the focus of the image to be sharpest. Then tap the screen and hold until you see the words "AE/AF Lock" show up with a yellow box on the screen. Now the camera's focus is locked in on that area.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram/@pketron.
You Want To Avoid Window Or Screen Reflection
It's hard to minimize reflection, but changing your positioning helps. To capture this stunning color spectrum through her airplane window, Ketron made sure to shoot at an angle. It was also important to take the photo while the plane had its lights off, so that those wouldn't interfere and cast unwanted shadows. "Usually, it works better for it to be brighter on the other side of the window you're shooting through," Ketron says.
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