You Can Take Insanely Cool iPhone Photos At Night — Here's How

Photo: Jennifer Bin/Apple.
If you've ever tried to take a group photo in a poorly lit bar or snap a cool neon sign after dusk, you know that capturing Instagram-worthy nighttime shots can be a struggle. But it's a challenge that has a creative payoff.

"My favorite thing about shooting at night is that you uncover a side of the city that you don’t see during the day," says Jennifer Bin, a Shanghai-based photographer.

Bin is one of the artists that Apple tapped for the latest iteration of its "Shot on iPhone" campaign, "One Night on iPhone 7." From dusk on November 7 to dawn on November 8, 2016, the company tasked photographers with capturing cityscapes, Icelandic ice caves, Indonesian volcanoes, and more global sights with the iPhone 7.

While these photos are set in locations around the world, the basic principles behind taking a standout nighttime shot are the same. So even if you aren't standing on a rooftop in Shanghai, you can still get a great photo of friends outside a restaurant or an Instagrammable snap of the skyline. Ahead, check out five top tips from Bin and Istanbul-based photographer Elsa Bleda. And look out for these and other "One Night" images in subways and on billboards around the world.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Bin/Apple.
Pick one bright spot

"Dim light conditions make it difficult to quickly focus the camera," Bin says of nighttime shots. "Often times, by the time the camera focuses, you've lost the candid shot you were trying to capture."

To get around this, find one bright point in your scene. "This will allow the camera to focus faster and accurately," she says.

An app like Slow Shutter Cam, which allows you to adjust your exposure, can also help. Plus, you can use it to create incredible blur effects which capture the movement of a subway car in a dark tunnel, and light trails, which highlight fireworks, meteor showers, and other "moving" light.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Bin/Apple.
Find a rooftop

"I like to shoot the cityscape from high vantages, typically from a rooftop bar," Bin says.

She advises bringing a small tripod (there are even ones that fit in your pocket), which will help you get a clear shot even when it's windy — and will counteract a shaky hand. Put your phone in the tripod, and turn on the timer in your camera app (to the right of the live button on the upper toolbar) to get a sharp photo.
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Photo: courtesy of Elsa Bleda/Apple.
Use ambient light and shadow to your advantage

"Playing with light and shadow helps me create this strange dream world," Elsa Bleda says.

Instead of shying away from shadows and reflections, use them, as Bleda did here, to make your main subject more interesting. "I always look for strong lines, silence, and mystery," she says.
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Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Bin/Apple.
Position your subject strategically

Any bright, artificial light can look cool in person, but create major glare in photos. "Try to shoot away from direct light," Bin advises.

If you do want to take a photo on a brightly lit street or capture a cool neon sign, try putting your subject in front of it. "This could create a rim effect that could look very interesting," she says.
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Photo: courtesy of Elsa Bleda/Apple.
Edit like a pro

A little post-production can work wonders for brightening up an area of your photo or increasing shadow. Bleda prefers the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and VSCO apps for overall editing and Afterlight for editing color in particular.

Bin also uses VSCO for its wide variety of filters as well as Snapseed for adjusting a photo's contrast, exposure, clarity, and perspective.

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Photo: Jennifer Bin/Apple.

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