iPhone Photography For Dummies
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Landscape photography requires great light, a stable iPhone, and also a composition that shows off the scene the best way possible. The word composition describes how photographers and painters present their chosen scene within the boundaries of their camera frame or painter’s canvas. This article introduces and explains how the Rule of Thirds can help you compose your landscapes like a pro.

Apply the Rule of Thirds for better compositions

For better landscape compositions, you can add grid lines to your iPhone screen. Grid lines are like a tic-tac-toe grid overlaid on your camera screen so that you can create both straight photos and also follow the Rule of Thirds. If you haven’t heard of the Rule of Thirds, then this discussion will almost guarantee that you’ll come home with stunning landscape photographs.

The classic Rule of Thirds landscape scene is the lower one-third of your composition being land. The middle one-third section is entirely water. And finally, the top one-third of the composition is, you guessed it, the sky! The following figure shows a simple yet effective division of thirds, which you can mimic with your own photos.

Rule of Thirds in iPhone photo An example of a traditional Rule of Thirds composition including land, water, and sky segmented into horizontal thirds sections.

There you have it . . . the Rule of Thirds explained in a few paragraphs. But don’t feel limited to just land, water, and sky. You can also do a one-third and two-third split like in the following figure: Maybe the bottom one-third of your landscape is a lovely Japanese garden at dusk, and the top two-thirds of your photo is a dramatic cloud-filled night sky.

split composition in iPhone photo An example of a “lower one-third, upper two-thirds” composition.

Or you could alter that rule of thirds composition! Think about the bottom two-thirds of your composition being the Japanese garden, and the top one-third of your composition is the blue sky.

lower two-thirds grid use An example of a “lower two-thirds, upper one-third” composition.

You can mix and match the Rule of Thirds in a few different ways depending on your scene. And if you don’t know what to do, why not take as many Rule of Thirds combinations as you can? Who knows, maybe they will all turn out to be frame-worthy gems.

When you hold your iPhone in the horizontal position (which is common for landscapes), the following figure is an example of what an iPhone 11 series screen should look like. Note that the grid lines in this sample screenshot are accentuated for illustrative purposes only. Your gridlines will look a bit thinner.

horizontal Rule of Thirds grid The appearance of an iPhone 11 series camera screen with grid lines when composing a landscape photo.

Use the Self Timer option for shake-free photos

One more simple step, and you’ll be good to go. Your iPhone has what is called a self-timer, which allows you to press the shutter button, then let go of your iPhone, and then three or ten seconds later the iPhone will automatically take your photo. This delay is perfect for landscape photography, as it keeps your photo from being shaky due to you touching your iPhone while pressing the shutter button.

When you’re photographing with a tripod, use the self-timer and set it to three seconds. Because you’re not physically touching the iPhone as the picture is being taken, your photo should be good and sharp.

To start the self-timer for X series iPhones and earlier, simply tap on the little stopwatch icon located on the left of your screen. If you’re holding your iPhone vertically, the icon is located at the top of your screen. For 11 series iPhones tap the top-middle arrow icon to reveal the camera’s extra features, and then choose the stopwatch-looking self-timer icon.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Mark Hemmings can be found traveling the world conducting photography workshops with a big emphasis on iPhone photography. He has a great passion for teaching iPhone camera best practices, which shows in his daily Instagram photo lessons. Mark has been a professional photographer since 1997 and an iPhone travel photographer since 2012.

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