Tired of Skewed Lines in Your Photos? Use the Camera App’s Hidden Level.

If you’ve ever photographed a sheet of paper or some other rectangular object, the image may have come out skewed because you inadvertently tilted the camera. The iOS 11 Camera app has a level feature to help you avoid this problem, but it’s so subtle that you may not have noticed it. To use it, first go to Settings > Camera and turn on the Grid switch so thin white lines divide the viewfinder image into a grid of nine rectangles. Then, to access the level, hold the iPhone or iPad flat, so the camera points straight down toward the floor (or straight up toward the sky, if you’re photographing a ceiling). Notice that two crosshairs appear in the middle of the viewfinder, a yellow one that marks the position where the camera will be level and a white one that shows the camera’s current angle. Tilt the camera until the crosshairs merge into a single yellow image, and tap the Shutter button.

You CAN Take Amazing Fireworks Photos with Your iPhone

On July 4th fireworks fill the sky. As the crowds ooh and aah at glittering chrysanthemum and willow effects, you may itch to capture some of those moments with your iPhone. You can!

1: Pick a Good Location

Consider your position before it gets dark. If you’re too close, you might not be able to capture the full glory of a massive burst. Too far away, and the fireworks will be little spots of light. Make sure there aren’t any power lines or lamp posts between you and the fireworks. If there’s nearby water, you might be able to capture some interesting reflection shots.

2: Turn Off the Flash

The iPhone’s flash works only at short distances, so turn it off to avoid annoying people around you. In the Camera app, tap the lightning bolt and then Off.

3: Disable HDR or Enable Keep Normal Photo

Tap HDR on the Camera screen and then tap Off. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, combines three exposures into one photo, which works well when some parts of a scene are dark and others are light.

The problem with HDR is that fireworks will move slightly between the exposures, which may cause blur. That could be an interesting effect in its own right, so if you want to try leaving HDR on, be sure to enable Keep Normal Photo in Settings > Photos & Camera. That way, you can see whether you prefer the normal image or the HDR version.

4: Hold Still or Use a Tripod or Monopod

To reduce the chance of your fireworks photos coming out blurry, keep the iPhone as still as possible—try holding it with both hands and pressing your elbows into your sides.

Alternatively, use a tripod, although a Gorillapod or selfie stick can offer stability while letting you more easily move the iPhone around to frame different portions of the sky.

5. Try the iPhone’s Special Modes

With fireworks, it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact moment when a blast of color will be at its most impressive. So don’t! Instead, use one of the iPhone’s special modes:

  • Burst Mode: Press and hold the shutter button or one of the volume buttons to take ten shots per second. You’ll have to sort through the burst afterward to find the best pictures, but you’re almost certain to get good ones.
  • Live Photos: Fireworks are all about motion: the slow climb, the pregnant pause, and then the explosion of light and sound. If you enable Live Photos by tapping its bullseye icon in the Camera app (it turns yellow), tapping the shutter button will take a mini-movie of the action.
  • Slo-Mo Video: If you plan to share your photos on social media, why not share a video instead? Try Slo-Mo mode in the Camera app to slow down the frenetic pace of a grand finale. Hold still while recording!
  • Time-Lapse Video: Or, go in the other direction, and record the entire show as a time-lapse video, which compresses everything into a much shorter video. Just flip to Time-Lapse in the Camera app. You need a tripod for a time-lapse video.

6: Use an App for Longer Exposures

Apple’s built-in Camera app doesn’t let you increase the length of exposures, which can provide striking light trails of fireworks. Lots of independent apps do offer that capability, including LongExpo (free), Shutter (free), Slow Shutter Cam ($0.99), and Manual ($5.49). Regardless of which you try, play with different exposure times to get the effect you want.

Just remember. As much fun as it can be to photograph fireworks, don’t let the iPhone get in the way of enjoying the show with family and friends.

HEIF or JPG

What the HEIF Happened to JPG?

Apple’s latest bombshell is a whole new image format and you may already be using it. HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image File and it replaces the JPG format in iOS 11.

Where did this come from?

Apple adopted it as a better way to save ever more complex images from iPhones, beginning with iOS 11. But they didn’t invent it. The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) did in 2015 and since it’s a universal standard, there will be lots of support for it. Photoshop® is already compatible.

Newer Apple devices already use HEIF and quietly convert to jpg when sharing with a platform that might not support it, like when attaching to an email. As for your old jpgs, they’ll stay that way. You’ll never need to convert them or use them differently than you do now.

Four Big Advantages

  1. High-Efficiency means lightweight. Images encoded in HEIF are about half the size of a jpg of comparable quality. That means faster processing and movement across networks which is important for mobile where increased battery life and decreased bandwidth use are paramount.
  2. It’s a container. One High Efficiency Image File can contain multiple images like Live Photos. Sure, a GIF can do that but not with the same quality. HEIFs support 16-bit color depth (256 times more than an 8-bit gif or jpg).
  3. It speaks 3D. Dual cameras on the latest iPhones capture depth data that enable enhanced capabilities like Portrait Mode. HEIF records depth layers and other metadata to preserve these features and increased editing capabilities for later.
  4. Simple rotation and cropping. Rotating jpeg 90 degrees requires that the entire image be resampled. It costs processing time and degrades image quality. But HEIF’s support orientation and cropping as outside instructions that don’t change the original pixel map. You can crop today and revert to the full image a year from now (in theory).

So, does this change everything?

Not at all. Existing formats like jpg, tif, gif, png and others aren’t going away. Each has strengths that will continue to suit their uses in a variety of capture and publishing platforms. When it comes to printing and sharing, we have no beef with HEIF either. Ordering high quality photo products from our website or in our store is just as easy as it is with a jpeg. If you do need to change a HEIF file to JPG, websites like aconvert.com can do it for free.

So, HEIF is here. But there’s nothing to fear. Mamma won’t take your jpg away.

If you have questions about saving, storing and printing your images, call us! Our experts are here to help.