Cover These iPhone photography tips will help you take stunning images of Hong Kong. (Photo: Courtesy of bantersnaps via Unsplash)

If you’re looking to make the most of your iPhone camera and up your Instagram game, we sought some expert advice from our resident photographer

Though there's nothing quite like the quality and feel of photographs taken with SLR or DSLR cameras, with the technological advances of phone cameras, iPhone photography has come along way in recent years.

Filled with inspiration on everything from food and fitness, to a taste of #homekong, if you're wanting to join the ranks of the Insta elite, we're offering some pointers on how to get started. Turning to our in house photographer, Affa Chan for advice, here we offer easy to follow tips on everything from composition and lighting to camera and shooting hacks – and of course, the apps to use.

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iPhone Camera Hacks

Before you get started, these three simple tips can help with taking stunning photographs with your phone camera. 

When taking a photo, tap on the screen where you want the focus to be, this will automatically adjust both the exposure and the focus for you.
You can also adjust the exposure before taking a photo with your phone camera. Press the screen and hold; then slide up or down to increase or decrease exposure and light.
The Grid
Affa suggests enabling the grid on your phone to help with your image compositions. To enable the grid on your camera, simply go to: Settings > Camera > Grid.

Remember the “Rule of Thirds”

While it's all too easy to simply point and shoot, try to take some time when thinking about the composition of your image. This is where having the grid function on your camera can come in handy.

Affa notes that you can enhance the importance of your subject by aligning it around the guideline and their intersections points.
For landscape images, place the horizon on either the top or bottom line of the grid for maximum impact.

Keep in mind “The Golden Ratio”

Much like the “Rule of Thirds”, “The Golden Ratio” is all about composition. 

Although a little trickier to visualise than the gridlines of the Rule of Thirds, The Golden Ratio can be applied to many different formats. 

Affa explains that when you place a point of interest at the smallest part of the spiral grid, the eye will naturally travel through to the rest of the image, making the overall impact of your image greater.


There is a common culture in iPhone photography for angling your phone downwards to shoot the subject, but since the lens of a phone camera are typically wide angle, Affa explains that this can actually negatively affect the proportions of your subject.
Try shooting parallel between your phone and the subject to get a better proportion of the anatomy and achieve geometry.

Basic Shooting Tips

Much like the iPhone camera hacks, these shooting tips can help overcome common iPhone photography problems.

Single Source Lighting
When shooting, try to employ a singe light source, such as daylight from a window. This will give a good contrast on the subject, as well as a clean colour casting.

Dealing with Mixed Lighting
It's a common problem when taking photographs with your camera indoors to have to deal with mixed, often unnatural light. Low lighting, overhead lighting and harsh lights are all frequent occurrences. 

Though never ideal, you can over come a large portion of a mixed lighting situations by adding the torch light from another iPhone. Though Affa does not recommended this method for portrait photography, it can be handy when shooting static images or for food photography to highlight your subject. 

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iPhone Editing Apps

Though Affa, like many photographers, believes that the true art lies in taking a really good photograph, apps can be helpful in improving your shots.

As the best all rounder, Affa recommends The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor. The easy to use mobile app has all the basic functions of other Adobe photo editing products available on desktop. Staying away from typical Instagram filters, Affa advises to simply alter the contrast, colour, exposure, highlight and shadow of your image.

By adjusting the levels of these aspects, the app will allow you to achieve the desired mood for your image – though Affa points out that all aspects are intergraded with each other, meaning you may need to go back and forth between them to create your perfect shot.

The first thing Affa usually works on is the contrast of an image.

On the Lightroom app, you will find the "Contrast" tool bar at the bottom of the screen under “Light” tab. Slide it left or right to the point you are happy with – Affa usually likes to achieve a good density in the shadow before moving on.
You will find that the exposure may also change slightly when adjusting the contrast, which will give you a good feel for what you may want to adjust at later stage.
Next, go to the “Colour” tool by scrolling across the tool bar at the bottom of the app.
Slide the colour “Temp” bar to get the feel that you want. You will notice that you'll also see a slight change in exposure when adjusting the colour.

For skin, Affa advises to go for more yellow – aka warmer – tones. 
Going back to the “Light” tool, you can play with the exposure of your image.
Lowering the exposure typically darkens images, while increasing it will give more light. However, be careful not to overexposure your image, as it may lead it to looking too blown out, with fine details being lost.

Found on the same “Light” tool, you can find the “Highlight” bar to play with the image highlights – this will effect the exposure of the lighter part of your image.

By lowering the highlight you can increase details in your image and improve overexposure. This tool can be vary useful to help with adding darkness and depth to images where there is too much light.

Found just below the "Highlight" tool bar is the "Shadow" bar. 

Just like with the highlights of an image, by editing the shadows you can pull details from an image, without affecting the overall exposure on your image.

By swiping right and increasing the amount of shadows, you can make all the darker parts of an image lighter, thus enabling more details to be seen.

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