I have always had my qualms about camera phones. It was only a few years ago, pre-iPhone, that I would carry my huge Canon SLR out — or even a disposable for nostalgia’s sake. I was reserved about submitting to a camera built into a phone and tried to convince myself that my phone was just a tool for texting.
But recently, I’ve faced the reality that my shelf of old cameras is collecting dust and that it’s rare I take a “real” camera out. Even rarer: a purse that can fit one.
This here is my computer phone. It is the size of my face and is more or less an iPad — but man is it more portable than the alternative professional equipment. It’s also…pretty professional. Turns out our friends in Cupertino know their way around a point and shoot (that also makes calls). Below: tips to help you learn yours.
If you’re sick of blurry pics in low light, Auto Exposure / Auto Focus will be your best friend.
This is old news to some and magic to others: If you slide your finger up and down on the ready-to-take-a-pic screen, a yellow sun appears that signifies exposure, which you can manually toggle and change.
By tapping once on the screen you can lock-in a certain exposure, which is great for keeping a clear eye on the fast-moving, oddly-lit runway. (Tap again to unlock should the venue lighting change.)
If those models are still walking too fast? Go into Burst Mode.
Hold down the “shutter” and follow them as they walk toward you, by you, and as they walk away, then select your favorite ones from the burst.
Even better…with the new iPhone 6s/iOS 9, you can snap them as Live Photos. (Which move just like the portraits in Harry Potter, and they include sound.)
The function should be selected by default if you’re working with the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which means it has Live Photos. If the Live Photos feature doesn’t seem to be activated yet, open up your camera as though you were going to take a photo and click the yellow circle icon (it looks like a cool desert sun) at the top of the screen. Take a picture like normal — but! — a yellow box that says “Live” will show up so that you know you’re actually doing it.
Let me be honest hear: it is great for the runway, but man is it good for a selfie.
(Note: if you go to Instagram a “live photo,” it’s the first still that will post.)
Speaking of selfies, not only can you employ the help of the front-facing self-timer (perfect for your selfie stick!) there is now a front-facing flash on the new phones. Say cheese after you say goodbye to that blinding “selfie case” your best friend has. This one’s a bit more subtle. (Read: you’ll be able to keep your eyes open.)
You already know about slo-mo video…
But did you know you can simultaneously take stills while recording any type of video by tapping the white button to the left of the big red record button?
Just a friendly reminder that there are more tools built into the regular iPhone photo app than that sad magic wand. Here we have a built-in Photoshop, eliminating my need to open the Camera Plus app in addition to 18 others.
Avoid the fumble!
Quick Actions with 3D Touch, one of the new iPhone’s features, will increase your photo efficiency and decrease the stressed-out panic mode of not being able to capture the streaker who suddenly flew down the runway, balls a-go-go.
How: press down on the Camera app icon on your home screen to bring up Quick Action shortcuts like “Take Selfie,” “Record Video,” “Take a Photo” or “Record Slo-mo” [of a streaker, balls a-go-go].
Finally, a great Spy Tip:
If you want to look like you’re in the Secret Service, you can use the volume button on your earbuds to snap a photo. (I’ve done it on the subway many times).
And there you have it. Your phone is more of a camera than your dusty high school Canon Elph, slightly more portable than an SLR and ups your Harriet the Spy game by at least 10 points. Did you know this thing makes phone calls, too?
GIFs by Charlotte Fassler; photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.