Thinking of Upgrading to iPhone XR or XS?

 

Apple have unveiled three new 2018 iPhone models to replace the iPhone X. If you're considering upgrading to a shiny new device then these reviews may help your decision making. While the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are virtually the same, just in two different sizes, the iPhone XR is a cheaper, more colorful phone with a few compromises.

After spending a few weeks with the iPhone XR, I’ve decided to upgrade my iPhone X to the XS. The enhancements to the camera, especially in low-light, is enough to make me move. I found that I really missed the telephoto lens option, so that’s the main reason I’m not going for the excellent XR. Most of my ‘serious’ editing is done on an iPad Pro so I don’t need the extra screen size of the iPhone XS Max. I’m staying at 256gb storage as this has proved adequate on the iPhone X.

How do these new models fit the needs of photographers? Read on to find out more.

 

How To Photograph Waterfalls with An iPhone

 

You can create fantastic shots of moving water with an iPhone. From capturing dramatic torrents to blurring and softening a waterfall into a dreamy cascade. In this tutorial I share my 10 best tips for creating amazing waterfall shots with an iPhone.

I'm fortunate to live just a short drive from the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. The area contains some of the most magnificent and dramatic scenery in the UK. Amid mountains, hills, streams and lakes there are numerous opportunities to photograph waterfalls, from gentle trickles to awesome cascades.

There are no right and wrong ways to shoot a waterfall as long as you follow the basics. Some of us prefer the soft, milky shots whilst others prefer to capture the raw power of the water. Try capturing different images and then compare later for the best results.

I'd like to share some tips and techniques on photographing waterfalls with an iPhone camera.

 Swallow Falls in Snowdonia.

Swallow Falls in Snowdonia.

1. The most difficult part of photographing water is to avoid 'burning out highlights', in other words creating bright white areas of the water that contain no detail. Try not to photograph water in harsh sunlight. Early morning, late afternoon, cloudy or even rainy days will produce a softer, less intrusive, light. 

 Overcast conditions help keep details in water but try to capture interesting cloud detail when including cloudy skies.

Overcast conditions help keep details in water but try to capture interesting cloud detail when including cloudy skies.

In the image above, I have photographed the waterfall with my iPhone on an overcast day which has enabled me to capture all the details in the water. When photographing cloudy skies keep in mind that you will want to also capture some interesting cloud detail rather than a boring white space. Experiment with your phone’s HDR setting to capture more detail in the highlight (and shadow) areas.

2. If you want to create soft, blurred, images of water then Live Photos does a reasonable job at creating a Long Exposure effect. See my tutorial on How To Master Live Photos here.

3. A tripod or a steady way of supporting your iPhone is a must if you want to capture a long exposure. I use a Manfrotto Compact Light Aluminium Tripod  - compact and light, you can take it anywhere. You will also need to purchase a mount to connect your iPhone to the tripod. I use a ShoulderPod S1 which doubles as a hand held grip. I've written a review on Shoulderpod products here.

 Steady your shots with a tripod.

Steady your shots with a tripod.

4. The soft, dream-like effect of long exposure is the result of an increased amount of time that the picture has been taken. For capturing long exposure images with better resolution and control than with Live Photos, consider purchasing a third-party app.

There are lots of apps available on the App Store that allow additional, manual control of your iPhone camera.  I prefer dedicated long exposure apps such as Slow Shutter Cam - Cogitap Software" target="_blank">Slow Shutter Cam. The app allows setting a timed exposure of your image. The longer you expose your photo, the more blur you will create.

 This image was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, on a tripod, with an 8 second exposure.

This image was taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, on a tripod, with an 8 second exposure.

5. When taking long exposure shots it is essential to ensure camera stability. Camera shake is when movement of the camera results in an image that is blurry or out of focus. The iPhone Camera app has a timer that can be set to 3 or 10 seconds delay before the shutter automatically fires eliminating any movement when touching the shutter release button. Likewise, wireless remote shutter releases that connect to your device via Bluetooth are perfect for remote shutter management.

 Use the built-in timer or a remote shutter release to eliminate camera shake.

Use the built-in timer or a remote shutter release to eliminate camera shake.

6. For all their beauty, it has to be said that a lot of waterfall photography can look very similar. It's easy to channel your attention solely on the water and forget to find a more interesting overall composition. A great way to overcome this is to include other elements that add interest to the scene, photograph from different angles and search for a more unusual and creative viewpoint to convey more about the surrounding area and character of the waterfall's setting. 

 Photograph from different angles for a more unusual and creative viewpoint.

Photograph from different angles for a more unusual and creative viewpoint.

7. In contrast to the previous point, it often pays to concentrate on a smaller area of a waterfall rather than trying to fit the entire scene into your frame. This can create an abstract scene that becomes a study of motion and colour and leaves room for the viewer's imagination. Take multiple shots and decide later on which you think is the best.

 Create an abstract scene of natural beauty.

Create an abstract scene of natural beauty.

8. Consider including references for scale. The largest waterfall may look less impressive in a photograph if the viewer can’t easily appreciate its scale. Don't be afraid to include buildings, sign posts, fences and people.

 Considering including references for scale comparison.

Considering including references for scale comparison.

9. To capture these kind of images on a DSLR camera can actually be trickier than shooting with an iPhone. The main difference from how an iPhone camera works is that a DSLR captures continuous light whereas the iPhone 'stacks' multiple images. Therefore the the skill of the DSLR photographer is required to calculate the amount of light captured over a given period. This may mean that various graduated or polarising filters need to be used to control the light.

That's not to say that the use of physical lens filters wont improve your iPhone shots. There are many options for attaching lens filters to smartphones with more coming onto the market all the time. 

10. Be aware that you’ll most likely be working in wet conditions, spray from the falls will make the surrounding area slippery. Be careful when stepping or climbing over rocks. Protect your equipment and keep your hands free when moving around. Wipe the lens of your device regularly if working up close to a waterfall to ensure it is clean and free of any moisture.

I hope this short tutorial inspires and helps you to get out into the landscape and create stunning waterfall shots. Enjoy your photography, most of all remember - it's your camera, your picture, your rules!

All images and content ©Adrian McGarry 2018

 

How To Master iPhone Live Photo

 

This guide covers everything you need to know about creating and sharing Live Photos on iPhone.

live-photos-example.png

The iPhone Live Photos setting was introduced back in iOS 9 for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Live Photos captures 1.5 seconds of movie and sound before and after a still photo. When viewed back on a supported device, the still image appears to come to life. As of iOS 11, Live Photos supports loop, bounce and long exposure effects.

Live Photos can only be created on an iPhone 6s or later, they can be viewed on iOS devices that run iOS 9 or later, Apple Watch running watchOS 2 or later, and Mac OS X El Capitan or later. On other devices, Live Photos appear as standard JPG photos.

1. How to Create A Live Photo

Creating a Live Photo could not be easier. 

Select 'Photo' mode at the bottom of the Camera app. To toggle Live Photos on or off tap the circular symbol camera app function bar, it turns yellow when ON. Live Photos defaults to ON on new devices.

  • Open the Camera app.
  • Set Camera mode to 'Photo' and the Live Photos symbol is yellow.
  • Hold your iPhone still.
  • Tap the white shutter button .
 To toggle Live Photos on or off tap the circular symbol.

To toggle Live Photos on or off tap the circular symbol.

2. How to View a Live Photo

The Live Photo can be viewed as normal in the Photos app. iOS also puts the image in a separate album titled 'Live Photos'. In iOS 11 it will identify Live in the upper left corner of the image. In the Photos app, firmly press and hold on the photo.

  • Open the Photos app.
  • Find the photo. View by pressing and holding.

3. Create Live Photo effects

In iOS 11 and later, creative effects can be added to a Live Photo. Swipe upwards on the photo and reveal thumbnail previews of the effects. 

  • Open the Live Photo.
  • Swipe up to see the choice of effects.
  • Choose Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure.

Loop: Turn a Live Photo into a repeating video loop. 

Bounce: Make your Live Photo play endlessly back and forth. 

Long Exposure: Magically blur the moving elements of your photo.

 

4. How To Change your key photo

You can use change the key photo by choosing from the range of frames that make up your Live Photo. Once you've selected a new frame and tapped on 'Make Key Photo', the selected frame will be the main image that displays in your camera roll and the image that's sent if you share the photo with someone else. 

  • Choose the Live Photo.
  • Tap Edit.
  • Move the slider to view the frame.
  • Release your finger, then tap Make Key Photo.
  • Tap Done.

You can also toggle Live Photo effect off when you Edit. This is non-destructive and If you change your mind, tap again in Edit.

5. How to Share A Live Photo in iOS 11

You can share your photo as a Live Photo or a still image to users with the latest iOS or Messages for Mac. Additionally, iOS 11 will store Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure animations as GIFs that can be shared freely to all platforms.

With iOS 11 animated Live Photos can be turned into GIFS.

  • Create a Live Photos effect as explained in section 4 - 'Create Live Photos Effect'
  • Once you’ve chosen the desired effect, the photo will appear in a new album in the Photos App called 'Animated Album'.
  • The animated photo is saved as a GIF, ready to be shared to the platform of your choice.

6. How To Share A Live Photo with Lively App

For advanced sharing to almost all platforms, check out the Lively app on the app store. The app allows GIF and Movie making from Live Photos. You can share your Live Photos on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Slack, Tumblr and more. 

Lively gives you full control of your GIFs with extensive editing features: trim, play backward, auto reverse and speed control. GIF size can be edited too. Lively lets you export for free with a watermark, a single in-app purchase will remove the watermark. You need an iPhone 6S/6S Plus or above to capture Live Photos.

You can still use the app on older iPhone, just get your friends to send you one via iMessage.

 The Lively App has a simple interface for creating GIFs and Movies from Live Photos.

The Lively App has a simple interface for creating GIFs and Movies from Live Photos.

7. Things To Consider With Live Photo

Live Photo is a brilliant way to quickly create fun clips for added interest and effect without any technical know-how or experience.

Live Photo is not a movie, it is an animation of multiple photos. Your Live Photo doesn't begin when you tap the shutter button, that actually is the mid-point of your Live Photo, the still that you capture is wrapped in 1.5 seconds of animation before and after.

When you open the iPhone Camera app with the Live Photos feature ON, it automatically begins taking pictures even if you don't tap the shutter button. It saves photos from before and after you take a photo and stitches all the photos together to make a smooth 3 seconds animation. The whole thing is a background process with the automated photos deleted if they're not needed.

The automated photos that make up the animation are of a lower resolution than the captured still frame. As an example, an iPhone X takes a regular shot at 4032 x 3024 pixels but when changing a key photo, that chosen image drops to 3662 x 2744 pixels. An image with an animated effect such as long exposure can be reduced to as low as 3281 x 2458 pixels.

Applying an effect or changing the key photo will crop the final image smaller towards the centre point. Try to leave some extra space around the edges of your shot if you intend to apply an effect later on. There will also be some softening to the animated image. This is especially noticeable in long exposure images. For the casual user these considerations may not be a limitation, for serious creatives though it can be a huge drawback to the photo’s potential when the image is viewed larger or printed.

Shooting with a tripod to ensure the capture is completely still may result in a higher resolution file, however the image will still be cropped and softened. Shooting with third-party apps is recommended if image quality is important.

 

iPhone Photography

It's the world's most popular camera, the one you always have with you, it's both powerful and liberating, oh and by the way the iPhone is capable of capturing awesome images. With increasing high-quality features, smartphones have evolved into serious image capture devices for both still images and movies. The iPhone has led the way in this photographic revolution since its launch in 2007. Recently Apple cofounder and iPhone visionary Steve Jobs has been posthumously inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to the artistic community and the industry around it, most notably due to the invention of the iPhone.

 Venice at Night by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

Venice at Night by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

As smartphone camera technology advances, so too are the image editing apps that are becoming highly sophisticated; rich in features that achieve professional results rivalling the creative power of professional desktop packages. Combined, this equates to a staggering range of photographic firepower that unassumingly sits in our pockets. Add in the further capabilities to manage, make high quality movies, share, stream and collaborate, then not only is this device a one-stop camera and digital darkroom but is additionally supported by an extensive communications centre and highly efficient back office. 

 Mermaid Lounge by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

Mermaid Lounge by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

The convenience and connectivity of the device is the main reason that most casual photographers start to take photos on their smartphones. The majority of mobile photography are snapshots of daily life. A recent search on Instagram for the hashtag #cats returned over 35 million results. Uploading shots to social media is a quick and easy way to share selfies, life events and family moments. Users revel in getting positive comments and likes on their photos whilst interacting socially in global communities through their shots.

 Manchester Christmas Market by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone © Adrian McGarry

Manchester Christmas Market by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone © Adrian McGarry

At the start it was all too easy to miss the potential of creating serious work on mobile devices - the selfie ruled. As the sharing platforms have grown and matured, mobile photographers have found increased inspiration to explore, experiment and become more creative. The iPhone is a recognised art form with prestigious international photography contests such as the annual iPhone Photography Awards, now in its tenth year, showcases iPhone photography on a global stage. 

 Peveril of The Peak by Adrian McGarry by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

Peveril of The Peak by Adrian McGarry by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

I've been shooting on an iPhone since 2012, within two years I was capturing more images on my iPhone than my Canon DSLR, to the point where today, the iPhone is my preferred camera device. I'm not making the case that an iPhone or similar device will create technically better images than a professional level camera, there are numerous situations that require high-end cameras to produce high-res photographs. I am convinced however that the iPhone creates images that have to be considered as serious alternatives in many other situations. After all, expensive gear does not necessarily make you a better photographer. 

 iPhone panoramic of Beaumaris Pier, North Wales by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

iPhone panoramic of Beaumaris Pier, North Wales by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone ©Adrian McGarry.

Apple are known to have a small army of engineers perfecting just the camera elements of the iPhone. Underscoring the tech giant's commitment towards improving mobile photography, the company are expanding on the 800 engineers who already work on iPhone camera-related technologies with a new dedicated research lab in France where a dedicated team of up to 30 researchers and engineers will work on improving image sensors for both the iPhone and the iPad. With a reported 200 pieces making up the iPhone camera and 24 billion operations to capture a single image, this technology is due to get better and further establish itself as the camera of choice for the masses.

 Seashell by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone © Adrian McGarry

Seashell by Adrian McGarry shot on iPhone © Adrian McGarry

.