How to Capture Sharp iPhone Photos at Night

When Emil Pakarklis┬ástarted out using his iPhone for nighttime photography, a lot of the pictures ended up dark and grainy. But he’s learned a lot since then. In this video, he shares how he takes perfect photos during the night using an iPhone:

Pakarklis learned that if you want to get predictable results for your nighttime photos, you have to set the focus yourself. To do this, tap the area on your screen that you want in focus and hold your finger down for a few seconds. At the top of the screen, “AE/AF LOCK” will appear and your focus will be set. By manually setting the focus, you will have predictable results with the lighting and sharpness of every photograph.

At night, it’s best to use illuminated subjects as a light source. If you’re in an urban area, there will always be locations and objects that will be lit up by ambient light sources. If you’re bringing someone along to photograph at night, you can create a silhouette effect by focusing on the lights behind your subject.

nighttime iphone photography using highlights exposure focus

When shooting with your iPhone at night, any movement while the camera shutter is open results in blur. However, in low light situations, the shutter has to stay open longer to let more light into your picture. You can work to prevent this by using a tripod or by ensuring that your hands remain steady while shooting. You also want to set your camera exposure for the highlights in the frame, which will be the brightest part of each photograph. The exposure should be set so that the black tones remain black afterwards. Your iPhone’s automatic adjustments may try to brighten black areas, turning them gray or orange in the process. To avoid this, manually set the focus and exposure for all of your photos. The sun icon next to the focus box on your screen can be adjusted up or down to change the exposure.

Setting the exposure for the highlights reduces the camera’s shutter speed and ISO for sharper, less grainy photos. Give it a try on your iPhone tonight.

“Setting highlights and exposure will consistently get you better results in night photography.”

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