Do you know about this hidden iPhone camera feature?

Hi Friends, today I have another super helpful yet mostly unknown iphone camera tip to share with you.

More often than not, the difference between a good photo and a great photo is timing. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see photographers walking around with their DSLR cameras around their neck. They are always ready to capture the perfect moment in time if a great photo opportunity presents itself.

What happens though when you only have your iphone and you see the perfect image yet only have a second to grab it before it’s gone? This happens often if you think about it, especially when photographing kids, pets, or any kind of action. It happened to me on Saturday when I was driving home and saw the most amazing light hitting a church steeple. It was dusk and for about 10 seconds the setting sun lit up the steeple and bathed it in the most surreal light I have ever seen. I stopped the car (right in the middle of a rotary), jumped out, grabbed a single shot and it was over. Had I not known about this iphone trick I would have missed the shot. I already shared this photo on IG and FB so if you are seeing this image for the third time I do apologize.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Side note: Had I had more time I would have re-positioned myself so the scraggly bushes weren’t in the foreground but believe me when I tell you I only had a couple seconds to take this single shot before the light was gone and the magic was over. 

So when seconds make a difference do you know how to access the iphone camera instantly? If you are like me you probably have your phone locked. Entering the pass code, then scrolling to the camera app can take 10-15 seconds or more. It’s a tiny amount of time but it can cause you to miss the moment.

There is a hidden feature on the iphone that very few seem to know about. To bypass entering the lock code and then locating the camera app, all you need to do is open the home screen and swipe your finger left. You will then have instant assess to the camera. Watch below to see how fast I was able to take a photo without entering my 6 digit pass code and then scrolling though two screens to open the camera app.

So the next time you want immediate access to your camera, or like me, see a once in a blue moon photo you will now know how to access the camera before the moment has passed.

I don’t know if other phones have this same ability as the iphone but I would love to know so please share if your phone has a similar feature.

 

Five tips for better holiday photos using the iPhone

First off, a huge thank you to all who entered to win the Domino Book Giveaway. My husband drew Claire Cuevas’s name from all the entries. You can see the video on my Instagram of the drawing but I had problems posting it here on the blog. Now, on to today’s post.

The holidays are here and that means most of us will be taking lots of photos. In order to get the best photos possible I have five quick and easy tips for better holiday photos using your iPhone or other cell phone camera.

  1. Check battery and storage. Okay, I know this sounds like a no brainer but I have been with friends twice in the last couple of weeks who either had a dying phone battery or saw the dreaded “Cannot Take Photo” window pop up on their screen.

img_7148So before you head out to the party or celebration take a minute to check your available storage in settings. If you are running low then delete some old photos to make room for new. Don’t forget there are two steps to free up storage and you can read about the two steps HERE.

2.  Turn off the flash. Nothing kills a good photo faster than a harsh unflattering flash. Turn on the room lights (even if only for a minute), get near a window or do whatever it takes but do not use the in-camera flash.

3. Move in close. Don’t be timid. Cell phone cameras have a very wide angle lens so to get great shots move right in and get up close. Decide what the subject of your photo is and then move in as close as possible to fill the frame with your subject. For example if you are taking a photo of someone opening a gift it’s not important to see the sofa they are sitting on or the room they are in or much of anything else expect the gift and the expression on their face as they open the gift. Remember too…never use your two fingers and pinch to get in close. Zoom with your feet not with your fingers.

4. Get the correct exposure and focus before you shoot. If you are using an iPhone and the image looks either too dark to too light then manually adjust the expose until it looks good.

image1red

Simply place your finger on the screen until a yellow box appears with a little sun icon to the right. Then move your finger either up or down the screen to lighten or darken as desired. You can read about it in more detail Here.

5. Take lots of photos! One of the biggest differences between an amateur and a professional photographer is the number of photos they take. A professional will take multiple shots of the same photo. They will try different angles, move things around,and look at the screen to see what might be distracting in the back ground or how the photo can be improved. An amateur however takes one maybe two shots then wonders why their images don’t look that great….which brings us back to tip number one!

tree-2016

I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year. I am grateful beyond words for each and every one of you who take time out of your busy lives to read my blog. I’ll be taking a short break over Christmas and New Years but back in early January with plenty more design inspiration and iPhone photography tips.

May 2017 bring you Peace, good health and prosperity.

 

 

 

Get better holiday table setting photos using the iPhone

Well Thanksgiving is over and I hope you had a wonderful day with your family and friends. As it turned out, life happened and we did not have the Thanksgiving we had planned. Two days before Thanksgiving my son and his girlfriend’s Great Dane, Portia, came down with a massive infection and required emergency life saving surgery. She survived (Thank God) and was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving. So instead of spending the day with us, they spent the day taking care of Portia as she was still very, very sick and could not be left alone. We toyed with the idea of driving to them but everything happened so last minute and Portia needed complete quiet and attention so we felt it best not to make the trip. It was sad they didn’t spend the day with us but we are grateful Portia survived and is slowly recovering. Besides, being grateful is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Since the day turned out to be very quiet,I spent some time (okay, too much time) on Instagram. I saw many photos from friends, designers and shelter magazines of beautiful Thanksgiving table settings. Most were outstanding but I did see a few that could have used a little help. Since Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s is just around the corner I thought it would be helpful to share some tips so that you can get the best photos possible of your table setting using the iPhone (or cellphone of your choice).

1.Pick the best time of the day to shoot the table. Pick the time of day when the available light in the room is the brightest. You do not want harsh sunlight streaking across the table but you also don’t want to wait until 6pm just before you sit down to dinner because it will be too dark. Generally mid morning to early afternoon is optimal but it really depends on your specific lighting situation and which direction the room faces. Of course if you want an evening shot then you will want to invest in a cell phone tripod so that the image will be sharp.

2. Use the AF lock on the camera screen. One thing the iPhone can’t do easily like a DSLR is give a desired blurred background or foreground. However, by using the auto focus lock feature you can lock the focus on something in the photo and get a little bit of a blur behind and in front of what the focus is locked on.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

In the photo above I locked the screen on the blue ginger jar so that the orange napkin in the foreground as well as the background blurred out a little.

3. Use an APP to straighten the lines. I saw several photos of tablescapes on Instagram that were shot from directly above. This is a tough shot with the iPhone because unless you are on a ladder up near the ceiling and dead center over your table, you are going to get distortion. Below is an example I took to illustrate what happens. This is the origional image from my iPhone. See how the table looks like it is bent and the plates look like they are falling? That’s because the iPhone lens is a very wide angle so it distorted the image.

Overhead table shot

Using the Transform Tool in the Snapseed App, I was able to adjust the vertical and horizontal perspective to  straighten the lines.

Snapseed Transform tool

Snapseed Transform tool

Using the same App I also lightened and darkened where needed and here is the final image.

Overhead table shot

Overhead table shot

It’s not perfect as I was dealing with overhead pendant lights that were causing shadows and hot spots but at least the lines look better.

4. Try different angles (like above) and don’t forget the closeups. Getting the whole table in the photo can be busy and distracting so focus instead on just one section of the table and don’t forget a few close ups.

Flower detail

I hope these tips give you some confidence to share your upcoming holiday table setting with me. I would love to see it.

 

 

 

This is how I did it. Five easy steps

Last week’s blog post was meant to be a lighthearted diversion from all the stress surrounding the election. I had gone to the Massachusetts Orchid Show and shared my iPhone images of the flowers. Now the election is behind us yet based on what I am seeing on the news and reading on social media, it is obvious we have a very long road ahead with lots of anger (on both sides) and wounds to heal.

The orchid show was packed with people and it was easy to spot the “real photographers” with their big camera bag, DSLR camera, macro lens and flash ring. All I could think of was how I am so over that hassle. My neck was hurting just looking at all that gear and one guy near me was loudly scolded for hitting one of the plants with his gear bag.

I however had my iPhone and was happily moving in and out taking pictures without bothering anyone. As I shared in my previous post, the orchids at the show were on tables that looked like this. There were ribbons and tags and lots of distracting back ground “noise”.

How the displayed looked

How the displayed looked

Yet, the orchid photos I posted looked like this.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

As promised, I said I would share I how I achieved my iPhone photos of the orchids and this is how I did it.

1.Get in close.The first thing I did to eliminate as much of the distracting background as possible was to  get in close…really close. Since the iPhone has such a wide angle lens, I was only inches away from the flowers.

2.Set the Auto Focus Lock. The closer you get to your subject the harder it is to maintain focus. This is where you want to use the iPhone auto lock feature. Simply hold your finger on the screen in the exact spot you want in focus for a few seconds (I picked the center of the flower in most cases). A yellow box will appear where your finger is placed and a yellow highlighted rectangle that shows AE/AF LOCK will appear at the top of the image. The yellow box will begin to “blink” as you continue to hold your finger in the spot. Keep you finger in the same spot until the yellow box stops “blinking”. The camera focus is now locked. Here is an example of what the screen will look like once the auto lock is set.

AF-lock is set on iPhone camera

AF-lock is set on iPhone camera

See how sharp the image is where I locked the focus? I was less than 2 inches away from the flower yet even my slight movements kept the image in focus.

3. Use an editing app. If you only learn to use ONE editing app I recommend Snapseed. Even though there are thousands of editing apps for the iPhone, I used Snapseed for this tutorial because it is both free and easy to use. For every image of my orchids I used only two tools on Snapseed, the healing tool and the brush tool. This what the Snapseed app looks like when open. You can see the healing and brush tool on the right.

Snapseed editing window

Snapseed editing window

Note: I made a short video at the end of this post showing what I did but I want to “talk” through it first.

4. Get rid of unwanted distractions.The first thing I did was to use the healing tool to get rid of as much distracting background as possible. I will be completely honest, there are much better apps for this (TouchRetouch for one) but they cost money and are not as easy to master. With the healing tool you simply run your finger over what you want to remove and in “most” cases it will disappear into the surrounding background. You might have to zoom in on your screen to remove only the part you want.

5. Darken the background. Lastly, I used the brush tool to darken the background and isolate the flower in order to make it pop. The brush tool can either be used to Dodge and Burn the image. For those of you who never did your own printing with film you won’t understand the terms but to Dodge an image is to make it lighter, and to Burn and image is to make it darker. Using my finger I rubbed the background with the minus 10 brush (burning the image) over and over until it was as dark as I wanted. Some images took longer to darken than others but in general I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on each image.

Here is the image I started with before the edits.

Orchid before edits

Orchid before edits

and here is the after

Orchid after edits

Orchid after edits

Here is a short video my husband took with his cellphone of me first using the healing tool to remove some things I didn’t want in the image, and then the brush tool to darken the background. To save each step you will see I hit the check mark over on the right hand side of the screen.

And that is how I did it!

If you have any iPhone camera questions you would like answered in a blog post please let me know in the comment section below. Until then, keep on shooting!

Five tips for photo storage when using the iPhone camera

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! The first time I saw this on my iPhone camera screen I felt a mixture of disbelief and panic. Disbelief because I had recently cleared my phone of all images (or so I thought) and panic because it happened at High Point Market. I had only owned my new iPhone 6 plus a few weeks and when I saw this on the screen it was the very first morning of the very first day of Market and my camera simply shut down. Luckily, I had my DSLR with me so it wasn’t the end of the world (although it felt like it at the time).

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Since this first happened I have educated myself in iPhone storage options. It is important that I never see this warning again because I no longer carry my DSLR. I am currently an iPhone photographer exclusively and with only 16GB of storage I had to figure it all out. Below are five tips and lessons learned so that you will never see this on your iPhone camera screen.

1.Buy enough storage: I am the first to admit I am technologically challenged. When I bought my iPhone 6 I didn’t understand what a gigabyte was or how it related to photos. I was simply excited because Verizon was running a special and for $149.00 I could upgrade to the brand new iPhone 6 Plus. The deal was for the 16GB and I clearly remember the young sales guy trying to “up sell” me the 64GB phone for $599.00! Now this is where I think Apple stinks. My only choice was less storage than I would need or to buy a phone that was more than three times the cost of what I had planned. I asked him why I would need more than 16GB and he told me it would help with downloading and watching movies on my phone. Well I had never once downloaded a movie to my phone so I told him I was fine with the 16GB….this was a big mistake!

I have since learned that the Apple operating system uses 12 GB so that leaves only 4 GB for everything else. Add in apps and emails and my photo storage is gone after about 350 photos.

2. Empty your trash when you delete your photos: When I first saw that storage full screen at High Point Market I started deleting every image I possibly could. Every double, every slightly not “perfect” image went into the trash. I deleted about 75 images yet my camera continued to display the storage full warning and the camera STILL wouldn’t work. I powered my phone off and rebooted it. I did everything I could think of but it still would not take more photos. What I didn’t know then is that even after you delete images there is a second step to take to free up storage. You must go into Albums, scroll down until you see “Recently Deleted”, then hit “delete all”. Only then will you be able to take more photos. I thought maybe I was the only one who didn’t know this but several of my friends have told me they didn’t know that either.

3. Transfer and delete your iPhone photos on a regular basis.When I am home and not taking large amounts of photos, I simply keep an eye on remaining storage. On a fairly regular basis I clear my phone of images by uploading them to either my desk top or my iPad. When I transfer my photos to my iPad I use the AirDrop AppTransferring is quick and easy and once on my iPad, I set up individual folders for related images. This comes in really handy for client projects because I bring my iPad to client meetings and all the images for their project are in a separate folder. I look more professional and organized since I am not wasting time scrolling through dozens of random photos trying to find the one image I am looking for.

4. Back up to the cloud. I also use the Google Photos App. I have some peace of mind knowing that every photo I take is uploaded to the cloud should some unexpected disaster hit and I loose everything on all my devices. Other than that, I don’t give it any thought. Once the App is installed you don’t have to do anything. The App automatically saves every image you take.

4. Use a transfer device. Before I traveled to Italy last Spring I bought an iStick. I was traveling light and didn’t want to bring my iPad and I would have no access to my desk top so the iStick seemed like a good solution. In theory it sounded great but once I got to Italy and tried on the first day to transfer my photos the istick froze and wouldn’t work. Since then I found out I had a corrupted one from China but it was replaced for free and I have had no problems since. Luckily in this case as well I had my DSLR so I could still take photos.

istick

It’s very easy to use but you do need to download the iStick Apple app. Then simply plug it into the iPhone, follow the screen prompts and the images will transfer to the storage card (on the right side of the stick). The one disadvantage is that the process is somewhat slow. To transfer 500 images it can take over an hour. The USB side (bottom of stick) can then at a later time be plugged into my desk top to clear the iStick.

5. My current favorite storage device. I saved the best for last but I think I have found the perfect storage solution and it’s called the Mophie. The Mophie has both 64GB of storage with the added bonus of being a phone charger.

mophie

When I bought mine the only choice was what looks and feels like a black rubber case so I had to say goodbye to my fun colorful iPhone case. The upside is that it stores thousands of images and when the phone battery runs low I just flip a switch and the Mophie charges the phone. It has honestly changed my life as far as shooting goes. My phone still continues to run out of storage but I simply delete photos right on the spot because all the images are stored in the Mophie case. What I like best about the Mophie is that I can still access and see the photos on my phone even after I delete them. That is not the case when they are transferred to the istick and then deleted. The only difference is that I view the photos through the Mophie app and not through the camera photos.

When I traveled to London in Sept I shot all day long, everyday, and as soon as I saw the storage full warning I deleted all my photos and started over. Once home I uploaded all 2000 plus images onto my computer. It was my first time traveling without my DSLR and although it was a little scary, and I brought the istick as a back up, the Mophie worked like a charm.

Bottom line, even though I have finally solved my lack of GB’s and storage problems, I am still going to spring for the 64 GB when I buy my next phone.

How about you? What are your ways of dealing with limited storage space?

Antiquing Diva style with my iPhone.

Hi everyone! I’m back from my Design Hounds London trip. If you have been considering going on a Design Hound trip I would urge you to jump at the next chance. Veronika Miller and her team gave our group the experience of a lifetime. I have so much to share about all the cool things I saw during London Design Week at the shows and showrooms as well as lessons learned from my iPhone only trip (no DSLR for the first time ever).

Today I want to share my iphone photos from antiquing with the gracious team from the Antiques Diva. In case you are unfamiliar, Toma Clark Haines, AKA the Antiques Diva, is Europe’s largest antique touring company. Our group of design hounds traveled to Lewes to spend the morning at the shop of  Martin D. Johnson Antiquesand Fountaindecorative.com. I knew we were in for a treat when we arrived and were greeted with champagne and this gloriously set table. Antique blue and white china, silver coffee pots filled with hydrangea, cloth napkins with silver rings, all set upon a zinc topped table. Even though the Diva herself was not there we felt her presence.

Luncheon table from The Antique Diva

Linda Holt Photo

Besides the picture perfect table, our hosts put out a beautiful spread of food along with more champagne.

Luncheon while Antiquing with in Lewes with team from The Antique Diva

Luncheon while Antiquing with in Lewes with team from The Antique Diva

Here is our London Design Hounds group (less a few who stayed behind sightseeing) and fabulous hosts.

The Antique Diva luncheon

The Antique Diva luncheon

iPhone Photo Note* This is a lighting situation that is almost impossible to get right. The image was so heavily backlit that even with editing this was the best image I could get. Supplemental flash was what the situation called for but since I only had my iPhone and this was just a quick candid shot, obviously that wasn’t possible.

The best part of the day for me besides the lunch (and champagne) were the photo opportunities in the shop. I didn’t touch or style anything yet everywhere I turned was beauty and another great photo to be taken.

The Antique Diva

Linda Holt Photo

As a photographer I am always looking for interesting arrangements, color combinations or pretty vignettes. This shop had plenty of all. Just look at the patina and colors in this photo below.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

These mustard yellow confit pots caught my eye against the deep gray blue background of the cabinet.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

I  love every single thing in the photo below.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

This bust is wonderful too. Don’t you love her swagged top?

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

What could be a better photo opp than a curated arrangement of chairs and stools?

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

How about angel wings?

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

These well weathered garden hares were calling my name and as tempting as it was to buy them, I will always have a photo remembrance. After all, isn’t that one of the best things about photography.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

I also want to share that besides the abundance of great decorative antiques, the prices were less than half (at least) of what they would have sold for in the states. If you have a project that calls for antiques it is well worth antiquing with the The Antiques Diva. The savings will pay for your trip and then some! Plus, the Antiques Diva associates could not be nicer.

A huge thank you to The Antiques Diva and our hosts for the day, Gail, Martin, Paul, Kiel, and Stuart.

Friday’s Photo: Going to London without my security blanket

To say I am excited today is an understatement. On Saturday I will be traveling to London for a week as a  DesignHound to attend design shows, visit design showrooms and do a little antiquing with Toma Clark Haines, aka  The Antiques Diva.

Besides being immersed in design, I will be a typical American tourist and plan to take in as many sights as possible. You know, the Palace, Big Ben, that huge Ferris Wheel and all the iconic tourist spots one goes to see when in London. So, obviously I will be taking photos. Lots and lots of photos. This trip is going to be different though because for the first time ever, I have decided to leave my heavy DSLR equipment at home.

My usual gear when I travel

My usual gear when I travel

Immediately after I made the decision I started having second thoughts, “maybe I should take it just in case”, but finally I decided no,  I am going solo with my iPhone. I have done a lot of traveling this past year and my heavy camera and lenses have become both a burden and a security blanket. I lug it around thinking I will use it but nine times out of ten I just shoot with my iPhone.

SO…next week is a big challenge for me. I am going to practice what I have been blogging about, that the iPhone camera (in most cases) can be just as good as my heavy more professional DSLR camera.

I hope you will follow along as I post on Instagram and Facebook. You will know that all my photos are from my iPhone…for better or worse! Also, be sure to follow all the fabulous finds from our group by using the hashtag #DesignHounds

Wish me luck! I hope I don’t have regrets because who knows when I will get to London again.

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