With the meteoric rise of social photo sharing platforms such as Instagram, Eyeem and Flickr, there has been an ever growing need amongst smartphone photographers to up their photo editing game. As a result the choice of photo editing apps is ever growing as our best photo editing apps article illustrates. Today, I’ll be taking a look at one of those photo editing apps, VSCO.
VSCO (pronounced “visco”) got its start in 2011 as a photo editing preset service that could be used with software like Lightroom and Photoshop, but by 2012 it appeared in the App Store. Today, it’s become one of the main go-to photo editing apps for amateur and professional mobile photographers alike, available in both the App Store and Google Play.
With incredibly high quality smartphone cameras and add-on lenses on the market, VSCO has managed to remain one of the best photo editing apps you can find. There are various preset filters and separate editing tools to process and improve your mobile images, and you can also take photos from within the app, saving you the step of having to import your image before editing it.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some lesser-known VSCO editing tips to help you maximize this hugely popular photo editing app so you can get the best out of your photos. For each broad editing topic, we’ll give you two or more specific tips, and there are also a few bonus tips thrown in to help you combat common issues while shooting.
Adjust Your Image
One area that VSCO truly excels in compared some other editing apps like Instagram is in their adjust tool, which lets you straighten and crop your image, and also adjust its skew.
Crop with presets or manually
To take crop and straighten your photos in VSCO, first open the editing tools panel and open the Adjust tool. In Adjust you can select from a range of crop ratios.
When cropping with VSCO, you can choose from several preset ratios or adjust the crop manually to find the perfect placement for your subject. If you’re just starting to experiment with the rule of thirds, VSCO’s crop tool can help you out when you didn’t compose the shot perfectly, and it also gives you the opportunity to re-frame some of your older photos.
With your crop selected you can move the crop frame around your photo and select your desired crop.
To correct any crooked horizons or vertical lines, simply slide your finger from left to right over the rotate slider. Happy with your adjustments? Then tap the tick icon to apply them.
Always straighten your photo first
Some photo editing guides would have you crop your image before straightening it, but we prefer to do it the other way around. When you straighten an image, it often re-frames the photo and cuts off a sliver of the image, which can throw off your subject’s positioning in the frame. We want this to happen prior to cropping, not after. When straightening your image, use the guiding lines of the grid and match them with a point of reference, like a building or the horizon line.
If you need to correct any distortions to the horizontal or vertical perspective of an image, then the skew slider in the adjust tool can help you offset the skew.
To add some perspective skew corrections to your photo, open the Adjust tool again, and tap the Skew tab. You will now be presented with two sliders. One for the X axis and the other for the Y axis. Simply slide the appropriate axis slider from left to right with your finger to apply a skew effect to your photo.
Bonus Tip: Keep your photo straight and level during shooting
Any unwanted tilt in the camera during shooting can throw off the symmetry and skew of the entire photo, especially if you have a lot of details that you want to keep in line. The more off balance the original image is, the more difficult it will be to make it appear symmetrical during editing. When shooting, keep the image as straight as possible, and then use editing tools to make only slight adjustments.
Within the VSCO app, there’s a useful tool to keep your photo level, both in terms of straightness and front-back tilt. Click the camera icon on the top left of the app, then click the grid icon until you see the red and white lines. To make sure your image is straight, the white lines should line up to make one straight line. To make sure the camera isn’t leaning forward or backward, tilt it until the red lines match up with the white lines to form a solid gold line.
While you can edit using VSCO without choosing a preset filter, finding a filter you like is often the first step smartphone photographers take when editing. If your image only needs a few minor adjustments, you may like starting with a filter – if you have to make a lot of changes, though, beginning with a filter could make the final image look over-processed.
Find your perfect filter
There are a number of filters to choose from, and the one you opt for will be based on the brightness and colors of your current photo, the look you’re going for and your personal preference. Filters range from bold colors to black and white; saturated to muted; and cold to warm. The strength of the filter can be changed by double-clicking the filter and select the Strength icon before sliding the strength bar to the right or left. This will adjust the intensity of the filter. On the filter editing screen you can also adjust the warmth and character settings of the image.
Layer filters for further customization
Try layering filters if a single filter doesn’t give you the desired effect. To do this, first apply the first filter and make any adjustments you want. This first image has to be finalized, since you’ll be making adjustments to the layered second image only. Once the first image is finished, save it to your phone and then import it to lay the second filter over top.
It’s always best to compose your image as perfectly as possible before you shoot, but VSCO’s exposure tool can help correct imperfections.
Increase or decrease exposure
Moving the slider to the right will make the photo brighter by increasing exposure; moving it to the left will make the photo darker by decreasing exposure.
Expose for the details
If you need to bring out more detail in the image’s lighter parts, decrease the exposure. As you change exposure, pay attention to the details in the entire photo, not just the subject. You don’t want to make the details look unnatural, washed out, or too dark.
Bonus Tip: Expose correctly during shooting
When shooting, set the exposure for the brightest part of the image. This will ensure that you capture as much detail as possible in that area. Later you can adjust the exposure to make minor tweaks during the editing process.
If your photo is too cool (blue tones) or warm (yellow tones), the temperature can be adjusted in the white balance tool. By moving the slider to the left, the image will become cooler; by moving it to the right, the image will become warmer.
Create cool images that aren’t too blue
After lowering your temperature to cool, you may feel that your image is now too cool-toned. To put back just a touch of yellow, go to the split tone tool, choose shadows tint and then the yellow circle, and move the slider slightly to the right of the far left side.
Know when to increase or decrease warmth
If you’ve taken your photo on a sunny day but you don’t feel like the golden light is showing through in your photo, raising the warmth can make the sunlight more apparent. On the other hand, some photos have too much of an orange hue to them, and you may want to make the temperature cooler in order to decrease the yellow saturation.
Use the skin tool for more warm options
If you’re not getting the type of warmth you’re after, play around with the skin tone tool. You can use this whether the image you’re editing is a portrait or not. By sliding to either the left or the right, you’ll see a range of warm tones that may enhance your photo’s yellow hue. You may also notice that the skin tone tool makes some of the reds and greens in the image stand out.
Adjust the tint tool for different color casts
When the color still isn’t quite right, you may want to experiment with the tint, which can also be found in the white balance tool. Different kinds of artificial light can create all sorts of color casts that make your image look unnatural. By adding more green or pink tones to your image, you can correct an odd color cast or simply create an ethereal or artistic feel. The same goes for the split tone tool, which lets you choose different color tints for the shadows or highlights of your image.
Bring Out Details
The clarity tool defines your image by giving the details more definition and contrast.
Start with clarity (and other tools) instead of contrast
I’m not a huge fan of VSCO’s contrast tool, so I’ll often use clarity to bring out details and increase the contrast slightly. I feel that the clarity tool creates a better, more natural image. Other tools that can help with creating contrast include the highlights and shadows adjuster in the tone tool, and the vignette tool.
Always see if clarity makes a difference
Increasing clarity is helpful for macro photography because every little detail is important, but we also suggest using it on all of your photos just to see if it makes a difference. You may choose to not enhance the clarity at all for some of your shots, but we often find that we don’t know there are certain details to define until we adjust the clarity.
Bonus Tip: Use clarity instead of sharpen
I like to use the clarity tool before trying out the sharpen tool, because I feel like I get less-grainy results from clarity. I’ll then only use sharpen a tiny bit if needed.
Smartphones continue to improve, allowing people to rely on them more and more for their photography and videography needs. iPhone technology is catching up to that of high-end digital cameras, too, and as camera sensors have improved, so has video capability, which now offers up to 4K resolution.
Whether you’re capturing your family vacation or working on a film project, you don’t want your video to look shaky and unstable. By simply holding your iPhone with your bare hands, you risk having a trembling, difficult-to-watch video. The fix? An iPhone stabilizer.
The iPhone Gimbal Stabilizer
There are all different kinds of stabilizers that can be used to get a broad range of shots. A gimbal is a common type of iPhone stabilizer, giving the operator the freedom of handheld shooting while still preventing camera shake and vibration. Gimbals are powered by brushless motors, keeping the camera level even as the operator moves it. Even if you’re moving quickly, an iPhone gimbal stabilizer will prevent bumpy shots.
Though newer iPhones have better optical stabilization, it still isn’t able to replace the production value of an actual stabilizer, making it a much-needed accessory if you’re going to be moving around (even slightly) while shooting video.
iPhone Stabilizer Options and Considerations
Most people want the highest quality stabilizer available for the lowest price possible. However, experienced videographers may want a slightly more expensive stabilizer because they often have advanced features, while beginner videographers are often happy with simpler stabilizers. Below, we have a selection of professional-quality stabilizers, as well as a few that are specifically for budget shoppers.
Other considerations you want to keep an eye out for include durability and material; weight, compactness and travel capability; battery time; rotating capabilities; and extra features.
Here are five of the best iPhone gimbal stabilizers for mobile videography:
DJI Osmo Mobile
The DJI Osmo Mobile has image stabilization and tracking, regardless of what you’re filming. The three-axis gimbal system can be held in four positions – standard, underslung, portrait and flashlight – allowing you to get any shot you need, even abstract and artistic ones.
The handle has a shutter button and joystick control, and it will connect with your device via Bluetooth. The handle also has controls for ISO, shutter speed and white balance. Additionally, the Osmo Mobile has a motion time-lapse feature, as well as live streaming capability.
Some people have found the DJI GO app to be buggy or to find that bobbling or shuddering occurs.
The Osmo Mobile will provide up to four and a half hours of continuous use.
The FeiyuTech SPG Plus three-axis, handheld gimbal lets you rotate your phone in any direction while keeping it recording in either horizontal or vertical mode. The sliding arm mechanism keeps your iPhone balanced at all times. Features include a dual handle; 100 degree rolling, 320 degree tilting, and unlimited panning with single-tap control; intelligent face tracking; and time-lapse shooting.
Some find this gimbal to be on the heavy side and difficult to travel with, and beginner videographers may find it tricky to calibrate. This gimbal is compatible with the Feiyu ON app, though some users have had responsiveness issues with iOS.
The Ikan Fly-X3-PLUS has a six-axis inertial measurement chip and a three-axis accelerometer that will keep your iPhone steady as you shoot handheld video footage. This is similar to the optical image stabilization technology technology of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. (Note that this device isn’t intended for pan and tilt shooting.) As your hand and arm shake, the FLY-X3-PLUS will correct for even small movements thanks to the gesture control system, keeping your phone steady throughout shooting. There’s also a counterweight that can be used with bigger iPhones, like the 7 and 7 Plus. The FLY-X3-PLUS is easy to setup and use, and its battery life is three hours.
The LanParte HHG-01 Handheld Gimbal comes with two adjustable smartphone clamps, plus two counterweights so that you can get the right fit and balance for your iPhone. The three-axis gimbal doesn’t have a joystick, but it does adjust to stay steady as your wrist moves. Stabilization is available for panning, rolling and tilting.
This gimbal is one of the leading choices for travelers because it’s lightweight and compact. Though it doesn’t weigh much, the housing of the HHG-01 is sturdy and it has a secure, non-slip grip made with silica gel.
The internal, rechargeable lithium-ion battery is removable and will last for approximately three hours. The HHG-01 also comes with a nylon carrying case.
This lightweight, three-axis gimbal can be controlled from afar with the ZY Play app. Note that some users say the app can be tricky to use because it’s lacking in instructions.
The five-way joystick of the Zhiyun Smooth 2 controls 360 degrees of pan, and 320 degrees each of tilt and roll. Additional features include a dedicated shutter button; a rapid-start function; a smart face tracking option; and noise reduction.
The battery life of the Smooth 2 is five hours, and you can also use it to charge your iPhone (a helpful feature, because shooting video can quickly drain your smartphone battery).
If you’re just starting to experiment with shooting iPhone video or you need a second, less expensive stabilizer to take with you when you’re on-the-go, consider these three budget-friendly options.
X-CAM Gimbal Folding 2 Axis Handheld Stabilizer
The X-CAM Gimbal Folding 2 Axis Handheld Stabilizer is convenient to travel with and quickly use or store thanks to its portable, folding design. Since this iPhone stabilizer is pocket-sized, it’s an excellent option if you don’t want to travel with extra camera equipment or bags.
This gimbal has a two-axis stabilization system that spins forward and sideways, ridding the video of fuzziness and jitters. It’s adjustable for up and down angles, and also has Bluetooth capability without requiring an app.
Setting up the X-CAM can be tricky for some users, especially with phones on the heavier side, but once you’ve balanced the gimbal for the first time, using it becomes easier.
The X-CAM comes with a velvet bag to keep the device free of dust when it’s not in use. The X-CAM’s battery time is two to five hours of constant filming; battery time will vary based on the weight of the phone.
The Steadicam Smoothee by Tiffen is popular with sports fans who want to capture action-packed moments. Highly adaptable and designed with sturdy metal, the Smoothee is a great option if you’re going to be shooting in rough locations. It’s also agile, compact and lightweight, making it easy to travel with, and the grip is ergonomic and comfortable.
Videos taken with the Smoothee are incredibly smooth and bounce-free, and the iPhone mount can also be used as a tabletop tripod. Note that even though the Smoothee is on our budget list, it’s still considered a professional-grade gimbal, and the learning curve can be steep.
The Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer is both a tripod and an iPhone stabilizer. The multi-use tripod and full 360 degree rotation gives you the perfect viewing angle every time. It’s ideal for streaming live video for social media platforms.
Some users have said that the structure feels on the light and cheap side, but as far as budget gimbal stabilizers go, the Zeadio does what it’s intended to do. However, since some have found it somewhat flimsy, it may not be a great option for adventure travel videographers or anyone who’s going to be shooting in rough locations.
We recommend the DJI Osmo Mobile and the Zhiyun Smooth 2 stabilizers if you’re not looking for a budget gimbal.
The DJI Osmo Mobile is ideal for videographers who want something they can start to use quickly, as it’s very easy to learn how to use. It’s a reliable, smooth gimbal that allows for high quality videos, and it has great extras that many other gimbals don’t have. With advanced image stabilization and tracking, the gimbal can be held in four different positions to allow for any shot, including artistic ones. The handle has a variety of controls and the gimbal also has advanced features like live streaming and time-lapse.
The lightweight Zhiyun Smooth 2 has a five-way joystick with pan, tilt and roll control. Extra features include rapid-start, face tracking and noise reduction. The battery life of the Zhiyun is a bit longer than that of the DJI Osmo Mobile, and the stabilizer can also be used to charge your smartphone.
For budget shoppers, we recommend the Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee or the Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer.
The Steadicam Smoothee is ideal for sports fans who want to capture fast-paced action, or anyone who will be shooting in a coarse or rugged location. The iPhone mount doubles as a tabletop tripod and the entire stabilizer system is lightweight enough to travel with. We feel that the Smoothee is the most professional-grade gimbal you’ll find at a budget price.
The Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer also acts as both an iPhone stabilizer and a tripod, and users love it for live streaming to their social media feeds. This gimbal isn’t recommended for anyone who will be filming in a rugged location, though, as it’s not as sturdy as the Smoothee.
Tripods have always been an handy piece of photographic equipment. They provide a steady and stable hold on the camera making them essential for shooting long exposure, in low light or situations when you just don’t want the camera to move.
Don’t think though, that the tripod is for sole use with a big DSLR camera, there are a growing number of iPhone tripods and mounts which now make it possible for iPhone photographers to capture light trails, low light conditions or the odd impromptu selfie. When taking a self portrait, an iPhone tripod will let you position the phone farther away from you than you could hold it, and you can also tilt it to the perfect angle. Capturing a shot in low light requires the phone to be kept as still as possible, and a tripod cuts down on camera shake. Tripods are also great for positioning your phone in a hard-to-reach angle or for taking long-exposure photos.
When you’re photographing with an iPhone, you’ll want a portable tripod instead of a more heavy-duty model designed specifically for DSLRs. At the same time, you need a tripod that will keep your iPhone safe – you likely rely on your phone for much more than photography, and you can’t risk it for the sake of a photo opportunity.
With so many iPhone compatible tripods to choose from, and with each tripod option offering something slightly different, it’s difficult to narrow down what is right for you. Here, we have compiled a list of 11 of the best iPhone tripods available and a guide to choosing the right tripod for your iPhone photography.
Simply the Best
What makes a great iPhone tripod? Durability and quality; portability; and custom features, like quick release levers and range of adjustability. We’ve listed several models worthy of your attention. Each has its own set of pros and cons, so check out our run down of 11 of the best iPhone tripods and camera mounts on the market at the moment.
Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount
The Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount is small and light enough to stash in your backpack or pocket. This is Square Jellyfish’s third generation tripod mount, and they’ve moved the ball joint from the mount’s base to the center of the phone for improved balance and positioning. The ball joint tension can be adjusted, too.
The main drawback of this product is that the plastic threads can cause reliability problems, which vary between customers and smartphone models. The more frequently you use the mount, the more of a problem it can become. The company has an alternative mount made from metal that some users have better luck with.
The JOBY GripTight ONE Micro Stand can be used on smartphones with or without a case in order to keep your phone upright in any shooting situation. Compact and foldable, the mount is small enough to fit in your pocket or attach to a key ring. The spring-loaded grip makes it easy to get your phone into or out of the mount in seconds.
Though this stand is durable and comes with a warranty, larger phones (like large Android models) may be more stable with bigger tripods, like the Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount. You can also try removing your phone case if it’s too overpowering for the stand.
The JOBY GripTight ONE can be used with your iPhone whether you have a case on it or not. This universal phone holder system has a variety of mounting options, including the magnetic GorillaPod (a tripod with adjustable legs) and the Micro Stand. The tripod’s rubber foot grips and the mount’s wide jaws make it possible to stabilize your iPhone on practically any surface.
Order the mount only (which can attach to just about any tripod) or get it bundled with other tripod options. JOBY is know for its quality tripod and mounting products, so the only drawback with the ONE system is that you can’t get everything bundled together.
The JOBY GripTight PRO Phone clamping mount and optional tripod will securely hold your smartphone in any shooting situation. The difference between this JOBY product and the others on this list is its higher quality – the premium build is made from ABS plastic, TPE grip pads and stainless steel plates.
Though this tripod and mount system isn’t as small as the others on this list, its slightly larger size is what makes it a bit more reliable and durable. Plus, it can even support some DSLR models if you need a tripod in a hurry (note that frequent use with a DSLR is not suggested).
Lightweight and portable, the legs of the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod even look sturdy and durable. If you need to move your camera around while shooting, close the legs to use the tripod as a grip. A key feature of this tripod is the rapid push button lock system for head adjustment, which lets you position and lock the ball head in one movement.
Even though the PIXI is undoubtedly a solid tripod for flat surfaces, its main disadvantage is that it’s not adjustable in the same way the GorillaPod is. We love this tripod so much, though, that we’d suggest getting it even if you need a second tripod with wrapping legs.
The Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod is both lightweight and durable, perfect for photographers on-the-go. The tripod can handle up to 4 kilograms of weight, which means you can mount your camera even if you’re using an add-on iPhone lens (and it can support some DSLRs as well).
This tripod has a couple of key features, one of which is the quick folding system for easy setup and break down. The quick release plate allows for immediate setup, and when you’re ready to pack up, the legs perfectly fold around the head. It also comes with a padded shoulder bag for comfortable transportation.
The Pocket Tripod is even smaller than it sounds – it can fit in your wallet, not just your pocket, and is the size of two stacked credit cards. Store it flat, then twist and flip its modules to transform it into a tripod. It can be used whether or not your phone has a case on it, and it will hold your device in either portrait or landscape position.
The website is serious about finding the right fit, and if you can’t seem to make heads or tails of the many options to choose from, request a “fit card” for measuring. Meant for flat surfaces, it may not be a great option for travel or adventure photographers, but it’s possibly the most convenient tripod for traditional use.
Now that you’ve seen what’s out there, let’s take another look at our checklist for narrowing down your options.
JOBY tends to corner the market when it comes to quality tripod products, particularly for smartphones, but if you have a larger phone, like a big Android model, you may want to opt for the Square Jellyfish product instead. However, if you’re going to be using the tripod mount frequently, consider upgrading to the metal version, or purchase either the JOBY GripTight PRO Phone or the Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod.
If you have a small budget to work with, the Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount and the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod are both worth considering. Both products are sturdy and allow for great positioning, though they can only be used for regular mounting as they don’t have adjustable legs that wrap around different surfaces. For a few more dollars, you can have the Pocket Tripod, which is also intended for flat surfaces and is the most portable option.
The Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod has the best folding mechanism, which is ideal for photographers who need to get setup for shots quickly and head off to find the next one immediately after. It also comes with its own carrying case, which is useful if you know you won’t have extra room in your luggage. If you tend to shoot from difficult angles, or if you want a second tripod just for flat surfaces, we can’t think of anything more convenient than the tiny, flat Pocket Tripod.
4 iPhone Camera Mounts For Your Tripod
Shoulderpod S1 Professional Smartphone Rig
The Shoulderpod S1 Professional Smartphone Rig has three distinct elements and functions: Tripod Mount, Filmmaker Grip and Traveler Stand. The adjustable pressure screw and wide rubber pads hold just about any smartphone model snugly; the rig can connect to virtually any tripod; and the black matte finish cuts down on glare.
Unlike some of the other tripods on this list, the Shoulderpod S1 is on the bulky side, making it too large to carry in your pocket. It also doesn’t have a quick release mechanism. If space isn’t an issue, though, and you don’t mind taking a little extra time to setup your shot, this rig is one of the best multi-use mounts available.
Best For: Professional, carefully-composed iPhone photography.
The Glif tripod mount for smartphones will hold your phone in either portrait or landscape position, and it can be used with or without a case. The quick release lever lets you quickly load or remove your phone, and when you close the lever, it will automatically tighten around the device to secure it.
Instead of just one tripod mount, it comes with three, letting you either play with phone orientation or attach additional accessories, like an external flash. If you opt for the Full Set from Glif, you’ll get two extra products to make shooting on-the-go easier: a hand grip and a wrist strap.
Best For: On-the-move photography and videography that requires add-on tools.
This universal mount from Manfrotto has silicone rubber pads for a safe, secure grip, plus a self-standing bracket along its back. Any smartphone up to 3.2 inches wide can be used with the clamp.
While the mount can be used with a smartphone case, some customers have trouble with extra-thick cases. It also doesn’t have a quick release mechanism, so you’ll have to manually remove your phone from the clamp.
Best For: Attaching your phone to a tripod for day-long shooting (since removing it from the clamp isn’t as easy as having a quick release), or setting it up as a table base.
The JOBY GripTight ONE Mount is similar to the Manfrotto Mount for Universal Cell Phone in that it’s a simple, straightforward monopod, tripod and selfie stick mount with a standard attachment. The main difference is that the JOBY Mount has easy in-and-out access thanks to the spring-loaded grip.
The JOBY mount is highly portable, its patented design folding flat and attaching to a camera bag or key ring. Like the Manfrotto mount, it can also be used as a sturdy table base if you don’t need to attach it to a tripod.
Best For: GorillaPod owners who want to upgrade to a larger stand (for many customers, the stand that comes with the GorillaPod is too small for larger phones).
Professional photographers aren’t the only ones who can use expert-grade tools. Whether you’re starting to experiment with iPhone photography or you’re ready to go all-out on a major equipment upgrade, we believe these are some of the best iPhone tripods and smartphone camera mounts that will help you find new ways to setup and capture your shots.
*All product prices came from Amazon or the manufacturer and were correct at the time of writing.
One of the most welcome and important developments in iPhone photography has been the introduction of the iCloud Photo Library and its ability to backup files, photos and videos to the cloud. This feature resolves a lot of headaches that used to come from losing track of an image’s exact location or losing images altogether due to accidental deletion or a broken, lost or stolen device. Benefits include easier and quicker organization and editing, no matter what combination of Apple devices you own. It’s possible that you already have some familiarity with iCloud if you use it to backup data from your iPhone.
What is iCloud Backup for Photos?
iCloud is Apple’s cloud-based storage facility, giving you the ability to remotely store files via WiFi from any Apple device. Every time you take a photo or video, it’s auto-uploaded to the iCloud Photo Library and then transferred to any of your Apple devices that are iCloud-enabled. Each one of your devices will display the same exact photos in the Photos app no matter which device you used to take the original photo.
The iCloud Photo Library makes your photos accessible from any Apple device, plus a Windows PC if needed. For instance, if you take a photo with your iPhone’s camera, you’ll immediately be able to access that image on your Mac or iPad, too. If you then want to show your friends pictures from your recent vacation, you can do so from whatever device you have on hand, even if you accidentally left your phone or laptop at home.
How Does the iCloud Photo Library Work?
The iCloud Photo Library was introduced with iOS 8.3 and OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, which are the minimum Apple operating systems required to use the feature. Since images are stored on Apple servers instead of a specific device, they’re immediately synced and accessible across all your devices. This also means that you’ll save a lot of space on your devices because the images technically live in the cloud. A wide range of photo and video formats can be stored in the iCloud Photo Library, including JPEG (images have to be under 16GB in size), RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF and MP4.
How Do I Setup the iCloud Photo Library?
Setting up the iCloud Photo Library couldn’t be easier – all you need is an Apple ID, which you probably already have as the owner of an Apple device. Make sure your iOS and OS X systems are up-to-date, too. Lastly, you’ll need to have enough storage in iCloud to keep all of your images. Below, we’ll discuss storage a bit more. Make sure iCloud Photo Library is turned on for each device you use. On an iPhone, go to Settings > Photos & Camera and then turn the iCloud Photo Library option to “on.” On a Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Options next to Photos, then select iCloud Photo Library. 4
If you already have images on your device when you enable the iCloud Photo Library for the first time, a progress bar will appear that shows the number of photos that have been uploaded and are currently uploading to iCloud. If you have a lot of images, this process may take a while; your Internet speed will also affect how quickly this is finished. Make sure you’re connected to WiFi and that you have plenty of battery life.
What Resolution Will My Photos Be?
On an iPhone, you’ll see two options: “Optimize iPhone Storage” and “Download and Keep Originals.” The “Optimize iPhone Storage” option frees up space by decreasing the resolution of the images on your device while keeping full resolution versions in iCloud. When you’re ready to edit, share or view an image, the full resolution version will be automatically downloaded to your device. However, in order for the full resolution image to be downloaded when you’re ready to work with it, you have to be connected to your cellular provider or to WiFi.
The “Download and Keep Originals” option keeps the full resolution images on your device, allowing you to access them without an Internet connection. Note that this option will reduce the available storage on your device. On a Mac, you’ll see similar options – “Optimize Mac Storage” and “Download Originals to This Mac” – when you open the Photos app, choose Preferences from the Photos menu on the top left, and then choose the iCloud tab.
Can I Use the iCloud Photo Library on a Windows Computer?
If you use a Windows computer instead of a Mac, you can still access your iCloud Photo Library by installing the iCloud for Windows app from the Apple website. You’ll sign-in with your Apple ID, then check the Photos option > Options > iCloud Photo Library > Done > Apply. Note that you’ll need Windows 7 or later to use this feature.
Can I Use the iCloud Photo Library from a Web Browser?
If you have a different kind of device, you can access your photo library by logging in at iCloud.com from a web browser. Sign-in with your Apple ID and choose Photos from the control panel.
Can I Organise, Edit or Share My iCloud Photo Library Images
When it comes to organizing your images, each one of your devices will be setup in the same way. Your iCloud-enabled devices will replace the Camera Roll album with an All Photos album because the images are no longer just from one device’s camera roll but from all of your devices libraries. Images will automatically be organised by Years, Collections or Moments. Sorting through your images will be familiar regardless of the device you’re on.
By creating a new photo album in the Photos app of any device, the album will automatically appear on your other Apple devices. Additionally, if you delete a photo from the Photos app of any Apple device, it will be removed from your iCloud Photo Library, which means it will be removed from all of your iCloud-enabled Apple devices. You can also designate images as Favorites or reorganise them. Again, it’s important to remember that whatever changes you make to one device, those changes will be reflected on all of your other Apple devices that are iCloud-enabled.
On your Mac, you’ll be able to see the photo albums as a list on the left side of the screen. You can reorganise images on your Mac, just as you can on other Apple devices. Being able to edit your photos is a huge advantage of accessing the iCloud Photo Library via a Mac. The screen is larger than on your handheld devices, making it easier to adjust colour, cropping and lighting. At the same time, the editing features will be familiar, because they’re the same that you’re used to from your iPhone. To start editing, double-click the image and choose Edit on the top right.
It’s important to remember that changes you make to an image on one device will automatically sync to your other devices. For instance, if you open a photo on your iPhone and adjust the color saturation, the color saturation will also change for that image on your other Apple devices. However, it’s easy to revert to the original version of the image.
You can also share your Apple photos with others. The Photos app will have a Shared tab where you can create an album, fill it with photos and then invite people to join the album. You can also set it so that other people can add their photos to the shared album; “like” images; and comment on images. By viewing Activity in the Photos app’s Sharing tab, you can see any updates and comments that have been added to a shared album. You can access the shared albums from any iCloud-enabled device.
Can I Move Photos To and From iCloud?
Let’s say you have images that are stored in folders on your Mac. It’s possible to move these images into the iCloud Photo Library so that you can see them on all your devices. Import them into the Photos app on your Mac by going to File > Import, choosing the images you want to add to the library, then choosing Review for Import > Import All New Photos. They’ll automatically be added to your other iCloud devices.
If you’d like to move photos the other way – from iCloud to your device – you can copy the full resolution images by opening the Photos app on your computer, choosing File > Export, choosing the original photo or the modified version, filling out the options in the dialog box that will show up, clicking Export, choosing where you want the images to go, and clicking Export again.
If you’re using a Windows computer, you can upload your images to iCloud by moving them into the Upload folders. They’ll auto-upload to iCloud, allowing you to access them on your Apple devices. Additionally, when you open the Windows File Explorer, you’ll notice a new photo called iCloud Photos. The Downloads folders is where images from your Apple devices will show up.
What Are My Storage Plan Options?
iCloud is free for up to 5GB of storage; expanded storage plans of up to 1TB per year can be purchased. Check how much storage space you’re using in iCloud on your iPhone by going to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. You’ll see what you’re currently using and what’s still available. To upgrade storage space when you’re running low, choose Change Storage Plan. iCloud storage plans are billed monthly and you’ll pay using the same payment method that you have setup for purchasing items from the App Store. Pricing starts at 99 cents per month for 50 GB and increases from there.
One final note…
If you haven’t yet enabled iCloud across your Apple devices, you’re missing out on major storage and ease-of-use advantages. iCloud is convenient and intelligent, giving you the power to optimize your photos and access them faster. You’ll never again have to worry about moving your photos or videos from one device to another, or losing them in the process. We know you’ll love it.
If you want to hone your iPhone photography skills, you need to know the secrets of your iPhone so that you can make the most out of every moment. The following tips and tricks will help you capture a fleeting moment and quickly compose an excellent shot to limit the work you need to do in the editing phase. You’ll also learn an easy way to access all of the photos you took at a specific location. In this article we’ll look at 11 iPhone camera features that every iPhone photographer needs to know and should be using.
1. Get the most out of focus and exposure settings
The iPhone does a pretty good job at automatically setting focus and exposure, but it may not always focus on the right subject. When you need to set the focus and exposure yourself, tap the screen where the subject is to focus; the exposure will adjust on its own and then you can change it by sliding up and down the vertical slider.
Once you know where you want to focus, you can lock the focus and exposure. This way, if the scene changes the focus and exposure will stay the same. If you’re taking a photo of movement, like in street photography, lock the focus and exposure where you expect your subject to go – that way, when they reach that point you’ll be ready to shoot right away.
To lock focus and exposure, press and hold the screen on your focus point. You’ll see AE/AF LOCK pop up in a yellow box. Even once the lock is set, you can still swipe up and down to adjust the exposure.
2. Set HDR mode when shooting landscapes
HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, blends three exposures into one so that your image has balanced lighting. In shots with a lot of contrast, such as a shadowy landscape photo with a spark of sunlight, using HDR will show details in the both the dark and light areas without under- or over-exposing the shot. Note that it’s not a good idea to use HDR in action photography because it can result in blur since it’s technically combining three separate photos. You can set HDR mode, which is at the top of the iPhone’s camera app, to on, off or auto mode. To make sure the original photos are saved as well, go to Settings, Photos and Camera, and select Keep Normal Photo under the HDR heading.
3. Shoot in Burst Mode
Burst Mode shoots 10 consecutive photos in one second flat by pressing and holding the shutter release. For action photography, this can help eliminate blur. It’s also a good option for portrait photography, especially when you’re taking a photo of a group. Within that one second, you’d be surprised how fast expressions can change – having multiple photos to sort through increases the odds of getting at least one pleasing photo. Though it’s not necessary to use Burst Mode when shooting a landscape, it could help you get the best lighting possible if the clouds are quickly shifting.
Photo by Rob Dunsford
4. Swipe left for quick access to your iPhone camera
There are plenty of times when a photo opportunity crosses your path and you need to get your camera ready fast. The quickest way to take a shot is to use your iPhone’s two camera-accessing shortcuts. If you’re using your phone, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then select the camera icon on the bottom right.
If you’re not using your phone, press the home button to turn the screen on, then swipe left to open the camera. You can even swipe left if your phone is locked; once you’re done using the camera, it will go back to being locked.
5. Use the timer to prevent camera shake
Sometimes something as small as pressing the shutter release is enough to shake the camera and result in a blurry photo. This is particularly hard if you’re shooting with one hand. With the built-in timer, you can compose your shot and then set either a 3 second or 10 second lag. Once the timer’s counted down, it will take 10 shots in a row so that you can choose the one you like best.
6. Take photos with the iPhone’s volume buttons
Most people don’t know this trick unless they find it accidentally. Your iPhone’s volume buttons (on the side of the phone) can be used to release the shutter. Either button can be used. This makes shooting easier if you’re holding the camera horizontally or if you’re using the front-facing camera. However, since it’s slightly harder to press the volume button than it is the regular shutter release, it may cause camera shake. In low light situations, it’s better to use the regular shutter release or the timer.
7. Take photos with your Apple headphones
Another little-known shutter release trick is that your Apple headphones – the ones that come standard with every iPhone purchase – can also be used to take a photo. Just like on your phone, the volume buttons will release the shutter. If you’re a street photographer, you can discreetly take photos without anyone noticing. It’s also a good way to take a photo if you’re using a mount or tripod and don’t want to cause camera shake.
8. Turn on the grid
You’ve probably seen the grid on your iPhone when you setup a shot, but you may not know what it’s for. If you don’t know how to use the grid or you’re not familiar with the rule of thirds, those lines may just seem to get in the way. The grid divides the screen into nine sections and it’s there to help you compose the photo like an expert.
The rule of thirds says to always put your subject at one of the intersecting lines – you don’t want your subject in the center of the photo. The lines also help you straighten out the horizon when you’re shooting a landscape.
If you don’t see the grid when you open your camera, go to Settings, Photos and Camera and then toggle the Grid option to on.
9. Use Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus for better portraits
Portrait Mode, a new feature with the iPhone 7 Plus, gives you more control of depth of field. When it comes to portraiture specifically, you want a shallow depth of field to put the focus on the subject. In Portrait Mode, the background will be soft and blurred. Another benefit of Portrait Mode is that it uses the iPhone’s 2x telephoto lens, which eliminates distortion. When you’re first getting used to Portrait Mode, you’ll benefit from the instructions that pop up on the screen. Once you’re done shooting, there will be two images saved per shot: one with a blurred background and one with a normal background.
Choosing the right background to use with Portrait Mode takes some practice. The feature’s Depth Effect component will produce the best results if the subject isn’t too close to the background. Also play around with how much detail you have in the background, if you can help it. A stark white wall will be too plain to blur, but a busy background may still distract from the subject. A small amount of color and detail is your best bet.
10. Take a panoramic photo from any direction
When you want to shoot a panoramic photo in order to capture a wider field of view, choose Pano mode on your camera, the arrow defaults from left to right. If you want to pan in the other direction, though, you just have to tap the right side of the screen and the arrow will switch over. While taking a panoramic photo, you can set the focus and exposure, too, just like you would in a regular photo.
11. Geotag your photos
When you enable geotagging, your iPhone will record the location of your photos. Not only will you be able to see where you took a photo, but you’ll also be able to search for images based on location.
To enable geotagging, go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services, then set the Camera option to While Using the App. Once you’ve turned geotagging on, you’ll see the location name at the top of the app. If you tap Details, you’ll get more info on the photo.
To see all of the images you took in a particular location, hit the Search icon at the top of the app, type in the name of the location and then choose the one you want from the menu. To see your images on a map, go to the Places album. You can zoom in or out and tap the photo set to see what you took at a certain location. If you tap Grid at the top, you can view your photos in a list.
A lot of people don’t realize all of the tools that are tucked away in their iPhone. Before you opt for add-on lenses and specialty gadgets, enhance your iPhone photography skills with tricks that are literally already at your fingertips.