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Master the Camera app on iOS

Serenity Caldwell | April 8, 2013
This week's Macworld Video tip helps you get the most out of the Camera app on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

To view images you've recently snapped, you can either swipe to the right on the live image, or tap the square thumbnail icon in the lower left corner.

Use the flash

An iOS device's flash can save many a nighttime picture from complete darkness--but often at the expense of adding a red-eye effect, and temporarily blinding your subjects or making them close their eyes in the shot. Your device comes equipped with a bright LED flash, which can illuminate subjects well from up to about 6 feet away. After that, it peters out, so you'll want to use it only in close quarters. Additionally, your device's LED flash often imparts an odd blue glow to illuminated subjects, although you can fix this with third-party image-editing apps that adjust color balance.

You can enable your device's flash by tapping the Lightning-bolt icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

Enable HDR

When using your device's rear-facing camera, you can enable HDR (high dynamic range) for your photos by tapping the Options button and toggling HDR on. Dynamic range is the light spectrum that an eye--or a camera sensor--can read, and the HDR option can be great for shots with multiple light levels. Your sunset-portrait shot, for example, will capture both your subject and the fire-red sky. Apple's HDR setting takes three images at different exposures (underexposed, overexposed, and in the middle) and combines them.

Because your device's HDR setting frequently results in improved images, it's tempting to leave it on all the time. After all, you can set the camera to save regular and enhanced copies of each photo to your Camera Roll (by going to Settings > Photos). That way, if the HDR shot doesn't wow you, you still have the original photo as well. Unfortunately, each HDR photo takes several seconds to save. And if you're short on storage space, the data required to save an additional, larger version of each image file can add up fast.

Take a panorama

The iPhone 5 comes with a fantastic feature for creating beautiful panoramas of just about anything--your room, the beach, even the Sierra Mountains. Begin by tapping the Camera icon on the iPhone, choosing Options, and selecting Panorama. You're presented with a screen that has an arrow pointing to the right and a line for you to follow as you record the image by swiping to the right. While you're using this feature, it may feel as if you're recording a movie, but you're not: The result is a still picture.

If you prefer to sweep from right to left instead, just tap once on the arrow while in panorama mode. It will change directions. You can also take vertical panoramas by holding your phone horizontally and sweeping upward. You can control focus and exposure, just as you can when you're taking a regular picture, by tapping an area in the composition that you want the phone to calibrate for.

 

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