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Outdoor Photography

Lesson 1 from: How to Capture Landscapes With Your iPhone

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

1. Outdoor Photography

Next Lesson: Zeiss Lenses

Lesson Info

Outdoor Photography

This lesson is how to improve your photography using this thing, which is probably in your pocket most of the time, and that's your iPhone. I'm using the iPhone 7 Plus, and the truth is you can really improve a lot of your images with just some very basic tips and tricks that I use every day, and all of these tools, whether it's composition or focus, are things I would normally do with my professional SLR. They also work with the phone. So follow me as I go and make some compositions along the lake and give you some tips and tricks to improve your iPhone photography. One of the habits that's very easy to get into and that you should try and avoid is shooting things like this. Right at eye level or on that 45 degree angle. You wanna really avoid the 45 degree angle 'cause that's how all of us experience the world. The best way to change perspective and get people to feel like your photos are different is to physically change your angle of shooting. Get higher up, you certainly can go li...

ke this, or get way low. So when I'm photographing out here on the lake, which this isn't a bad backdrop at all, I get real low and then look at the reflections and see if I can make those work as a compositional element. And you'll notice that your screen probably has those little grids on there, and those are all for making compositions using the rule of thirds. So I really like that little house over in the distance so I'm gonna take a photo with that right at the top right-hand corner. A third of the way down the frame, a third of the way into the frame. It's just a natural way of positioning things in the frame that our eye finds pleasing. It's been a long tip for many pro photographers, and now, when you're out shooting with your iPhone, it's something you can also do. Another really cool tip is to try and use different depth of field techniques, whether you're using a portrait mode or if you're just using the normal photo mode for landscape images, you can certain tap the screen to get different depth of fields. A really good place to show this would be over here by this canoe. So to improve the photo, I'm gonna get real close to the action, which is really important, right up in front. I'm gonna put the tip of the boat in the bottom lower third, and I'm gonna switch to portrait mode. And when you switch to portrait mode, you actually zoom in a little, so probably take a step back. And I'll tap the front of the boat because that's the thing that I want to be sharp and in focus. And then, that way, the background, where the road is, is a little more out of focus. I'm trying to make sure that my eye is drawn to elements that I think are really pleasing. So that's a really great way to show different depth of field techniques when shooting a landscape photo or using subject matter as your foreground. Let's go back over here and take a look at the water. Another great way to improve your iPhone photography is to draw the viewer in by putting elements in the foreground, the middle, and in the background. That's something that all pro photographers think about, not just the foreground and what you're taking a picture of, but something that's in the way distance in the background. And this is something that you don't have to be out in a national park to do. This is something you can practice in your own home. A lot of the time I practice when I'm cooking. Try and put things in the foreground, or any other every day activity where you can get used to the idea of having different elements in your frame to frame your composition. Behind me, I've got a really great spot where I have all these little rocks. I've got a flowing creek coming out into this big, beautiful lake with a mountain in the distance so I'm not just gonna go and photograph the mountain. I'm gonna go and put these rocks in the foreground and shooting a vertical, I put those rocks in the lower third. And I snap a picture. Now, these rocks are much brighter than the background so I wanna make sure that my exposure settings are correct. And so, I'm gonna actually just tap the screen in the area where the rocks are. I get a little yellow confirmation of the sun, and then, I take the photo. And the also go and do a horizontal as well, and notice I'm just getting lower and lower and lower. I'm gonna tap the rocks again, check my exposure. And take a photo again. I'm gonna double check those, take a look. It looks pretty good. And exposure's a great way to just make sure you're not getting any highlights blown out or that the area that's really being focused on is sharp, in focus, and that the exposure settings are great. Exposure is often the same as focus. So if I were to get really close to the rocks, like this. And shoot, I'm gonna tap the rock here. It'll make that the focus of my image. So you have the ability to control these things. Rather than turning the lens like you would with a professional SLR, everything is at your finger tips, exposure, focus, and of course, everything is in your mind when it comes to creativity of compositions. Another great way to improve your iPhone photos and the composition of them is to use other elements in the scene to physically frame the shot. So I love this creek behind me. I'm gonna use this tree and these branches to frame the shot, so what I'm gonna do is, in photo mode, I'm gonna get in here and actually use these leaves as a foreground element to show the scene. And in order to make sure that I'm focusing on the right spot, I tap the screen where the creek is, and that's where I take my photo. Sometimes having these little extra elements gives you a strong sense of place and adds layers to the shot. And if you wanna really make sure they're out of focus, similarly, you can use the depth of field trick by switching to portrait mode, backing up, and doing the exact same thing to get more control over the depth of field. There's three modes on the iPhone that I primarily use. There's photo mode, portrait, and panoramic. Photo mode is pretty much my standard go-to. Portrait's when I'm looking to control depth of field, and panoramic is for when I'm in places like this beautiful spot in North Cascades National Park. And even with a pano, I try to remember to not shoot at eye level, but to get lower to the ground and shoot like this. And the lower the light, the slower you need to go. And the trick, of course, is to make sure that you follow the little yellow line. And if you notice, I'm making sure that I've got foreground elements and pieces from the river, the log, the water, and the mountain all coming together while also really keeping in mind that it's important to have a straight, horizontal line in your photo itself. I don't wanna tilt at an angle 'cause otherwise, then my whole landscape photo is also gonna tilt on an angle. So keep things level, shoot across, and if you have to, practice a couple times until you got it right.

Ratings and Reviews

Nikola Foster

Too short... I would appreciate to go on more places and make more landscape examples with iPhone ... Ian is certainly very gifted photograher but the price is not worth of 10 minutes module... Pity😢


At a price of FREEEE!, of course this is worthwhile. It's a compact combination of basic composition tips and tips on how to use the controls of iPhone camera. There are also points that are not discussed but you can learn by watching, such as how to hold an iPhone to take steady photos while using the touch screen. This is a class that will tell you that iPhones have a grid mode, but not how to turn it on. (You'll need to look that up yourself because it varies by iPhone.) The phone lenses discussed in the three minute second lesson are no longer made, but info is relatively general and apply to current iPhone lens packages.

Damian Morales

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