5 Simple Steps to Better Nighttime iPhone Photography

5 Simple Steps to Better Nighttime iPhone Photography

Robin Jones

5 Simple Steps to Better Nighttime iPhone Photography

There’s an old saying that “the best camera is the one that you have with you”. For many of us, that camera is a phone.  An iPhone, to be specific. Day or night we use our phone to take pictures. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, those night pictures don’t turn out well.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Most poor quality pictures are the result of the same things – not enough light and too much motion. In this post, we’ll show you how to improve your images. 

  1. Avoid holding your iPhone in one hand during night shots.

Blurry shots are the single biggest problem while shooting at night. Simply put, blurry shots occur mainly in low-light conditions when the camera moves too much during a shot. This is caused by the camera defaulting to a slow shutter speed.

There are some simple ways to cure blurry pictures. First, try holding the phone with two hands. Even better, hold it with two hands while your elbows are resting on a flat surface. Second, you can try to rest the phone directly on a flat surface while shooting. Bonus tip: use the “volume up” button to take the picture.

As you can see, the goal is to stabilize the phone. The single best way to do that is to use a tripod

Tripods are even more effective when used with a timer, as you can set the timer and let the camera take the photo automatically. This minimizes any movement resulting from pressing the button on the phone while taking the picture, resulting in clearer pictures. Apps such as Camera+ and NightCap are great choices. [you could link if you want]

  1. Manually adjust your exposure.

Exposure is how much light reaches the sensor of your camera. By default, the iPhone automatically adjusts the exposure. However, it tends to get it wrong. The default setting causes the phone to try to brighten the darkest shadows, which causes the brighter parts of the picture to be too bright.

You can adjust exposure several ways. In the native iPhone camera app, the easiest way is to tap on the part of the photo you would like to brighten, until it looks correct on the screen. If you have an iPhone 5S or newer, you can adjust the exposure of the entire photo using the slider bar that appears when you tap on the screen. You can also use third-party apps, such as Camera+ [you could link if you want], which offer features such as exposure lock.  Exposure lock keeps exposure locked on your setting even if you move the camera around, which makes it easier to take great pictures.

  1. Embrace the timeless look of black and white.

Capturing nighttime pictures in black and white has several benefits. The contrast of dark shadows and bright lights can look amazing in B&W.  B&W offers a certain drama that color pictures do not. Also, have you ever taken a picture in low light that looked yellow or orange? That is due to an incorrect white balance, and doesn’t occur when the picture is B&W.

Shooting in B&W is simple. The native camera app has a B&W setting. While you can shoot in that, or convert after the shot, there are several apps that offer even better options. Both VSCO and Snapseed [again up to you if you want to put links] allow you to convert pictures after you take them, and produce much better results than the built-in camera app.

  1. Take a lot of pictures.

Yes, taking a lot of pictures means using a lot of memory and spending time deleting the “bad” ones. It also increases your odds of getting great pictures. Late-model iPhones make it easy to take many pictures in rapid succession. Using “burst mode”, which is activated by holding the shutter down, you can take hundreds of pictures at a rate of 10 per second. 

Using burst mode, especially while the phone is properly stabilized will result in more high-quality pictures. And if you are handholding the phone, you may find some great creative blurs. 

  1. Use available light – or bring light with you.

The iPhone has a built-in LED flash, but it’s not that good. Using the built-in flash often results in pictures that are too bright, having that “washed-out” look. It also takes longer for the phone to take pictures while the built-in flash is on, which may result in missed shots.

To avoid using the built-in flash and get better pictures, you can either use available light or an external flash.

For night shooting, the sources of available light are wide ranging and can produce great results. Some examples include: streetlights, windows, headlights, the moon, and more.

But sometimes, those sources just don’t work. If that is the case, you can use an external flash that hooks on to your phone or can be handheld. An external flash tends to avoid the washed out look by not being as direct as the built-in flash and having adjustable light settings.

Using any of these 5 tricks will greatly improve your nighttime iPhone photography. Combine two or more and get ready for some amazing results. 


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