Christmas is the perfect time to capture magic moments with friends and family and take the time get creative with your photography. Here are some simple tips to get the best photos from your iPhone.
Shoot Outdoor Lights Before It Gets Too Dark
The best time to capture outdoor festive lights with an iPhone is during "blue hour" just before it goes completely dark. Catching the lights while you have enough ambient light will help you avoid getting blurry photos. You can help by using both hands to steady your iPhone while using the stabiliser mode. If you plan on doing a lot of night photography consider investing in a little tripod, the Glif or the Gymbl Pro make great options. Avoid leaning your iPhone on walls or ledges unless you have a protective case, one gust of air or curious cat paw could send your beloved iPhone tumbling onto the hard, unforgiving concrete floor.
Capture The Sentimental Details
It's the small sentimental things that make your Christmas special. Take shots of your favourite ornament, candles, table placings and bows on gifts. To get great macro shots, position your iPhone at least half a metre away from your subject and tap the screen to focus. Use a second finger to get the proper exposure. Make sure you don't get too close or the iPhone won't focus! Also, you may want to add a bit of external light. For the above shot, I held a small twinkle light in front of the ornament to get more light on Santa and the reindeer.
Use Your Headphones As A Remote To Snap Shots In Low Light
One of the challenges with taking great Christmas shots in low light is camera shake. If you are shooting ornaments in a dimly lit room use a tripod and your headphones as a cable release.
Change Your Perspective By Shooting From A Low Angle
The beauty of shooting with an iPhone is that you can easily move it around and even position it on the floor to get really interesting shots. Changing the angle that you shoot from changes the size of your subject and also plays on the the light and shade and patterns on objects. Get low and make presents look huge as your kids tear open gifts. Play with perspective by shooting from underneath the tree or below a plate of cookies.
Use Focus Settings To Capture Amazing Bokeh Lights
One way to get "wow" Christmas shots from your iPhone is to position an object in the foreground of a lit tree or some twinkle lights. The lights in the background will become small out of focus light circles called "bokeh". The trick is to position the object at least 1.5-3m away from the lights. Tap to focus on the object and make sure the lights in the background are out of focus, then adjust the exposure by tapping with your second finger. If you aren't getting any bokeh, you need to move the object further away from the background lights.
Compose And Fill The Frame For Great Christmas Portraits
Photographs of your friends and family are the most precious Christmas memories. It's easy to forget to compose shots with an iPhone, so turn on the grid mode and fill the frame with your subject by getting close and cropping out any background distractions. As my friends and family are shy, Squatchi agreed to pose for me amid a fervent present wrapping session.
Focus On One Point Of Interest
Christmas photos can often get cluttered with people, colours and lights that all distract from what you are shooting. Use the Depth of Field FX in Camera+ to blur out the distractions and bring your subject to the forefront. Tap on your photo in the Lightbox and hit FX. You'll find Depth of Field in the Special FXs.
Use Photo Flash Light To Capture Beautiful Food Photos
In between eating plates of biscuits, brightly-wrapped chocolates and delicious buffets of yum, snap some photos of your Christmas treats. iPhone food photography can turn ugly pretty quickly if you don't light things properly, so if you are in a dimly-lit room or restaurant, instantly add light by using photo flashlight (a continuous light source). Just tap on the flash icon in the shooting screen and choose the photo flashlight icon. Tap on your subject to get focus. Tap again with a second finger to get a second exposure point to get the perfect exposure.
Tell The Story With Captions
Make sure you capture the "story" of your holidays from decorating biscuits to putting up decorations to loved ones arriving at Christmas gatherings. Tell the story of these moments by adding fun captions. First, add a border and then tap the captions button.
Magic memories only happen once. Good thing you always have your iPhone in your pocket!
Lisa Bettany is a photographer and co-creator of the #1 top selling iPhone photo app, Camera+.