How to take great photos of reflections with your iPhone

Reflections are all around us. Mirrors, glass, polished metal and stone, pools and fountains, even wet pavement can create great reflected light. Even average compositions can be improved with a bit of reflected light. Here are some tips for building a great set of reflection images.

Early Bird: Not only is the light better in the morning, but pools, ponds and lakes are often completely glassy. Set your alarm clock and head out before the breeze picks up.

Break the rules: Here’s a great chance to break the ‘rule-of-thirds’ and shoot with perfect symmetry. Set up your shot with the reflection’s far edge directly in the middle of your frame for a 50/50 split composition.

Weather vane: Look for puddles just after the rain, then get in close and down low. The contrast of reflected sky against the wet ground can be absolutely stunning.

Drought-proof: No water around? Find some glass. Store-fronts, skyscrapers and cafés are great locations for finding reflections. Try shooting from both sides and at angles to get different results and moods.

Perspectives: Sometimes flipping your image upside-down will give a surreal distortion to your final photo. Experiment with different angles while shooting, as well as orientations when editing.

You’re so vain: Find a large mirror and shoot people looking at their own reflections. It’s more discrete than a direct portrait, and you can get some really interesting and funny shots.

Hold the Mayo: Worried about getting your camera wet? If you’re going to be out in the rain, seal your phonecam in a plastic sandwich bag. You can still use the touchscreen, and your images will turn out fine if you keep the plastic up against the lens. Just remember to make sure it’s *clean* first.


Scary Monsters: How to take great Halloween photos with your iPhone


Halloween is an amazing holiday for photos, but also presents some real challenges because of the low-light. Here are some tips for taking great Halloween photos.

News Flash: So the first tip is this: Turn off your flash! You don’t want brightly-lit, flat, colorless monsters and jack-o-lanterns. Try and find other light sources like incandescent and candle light if you can. Flashlights also make excellent ‘ghoul’ lighting when shining from below. Use flash only as a last resort.

Golden Hour: If you’re capturing kids in costume for trick-or-treating, try to have them ready just as the sun is setting. The light at dusk sets a perfect Halloween scene and preserves a lot of the detail you’ll miss later in the dark.

Devilish Details: If you want great costume shots, you’ll want to focus on specific details. Masks, fangs, scars, hats, etc. Get in close and fill the frame. And don’t forget to shoot things like decorations and the candy loot. They don’t move around much and capture the true flavors of Halloween.

Process: If possible, try to document kids (and adults) as they get their costumes prepared. It helps tell the story, and also makes it possible to identify years from now just exactly who was hiding behind that mask.

HDR Spirits: Use a High-Dynamic-Range camera application like TrueHDR or HDR Fusion to capture ghost images. Here’s how: Just hold absolutely still and as the first frame fires, then have your subject walk through as the second frame is taken. Instant ghosts!

Post Processing: Want to turn the spooky volume up? Try editing your pics in an app like LensLight to add effects like a full moon or lightning.

Fall color: Autumn is such an amazing time for rich colors. Capture the entire season in your photo set with a trip to the pumpkin patch or a farmers market. Cloudy days and early/late hours are best for capturing these hues.

Dont forget to download Time Warp Camera for iPhone. It’s the perfect app to share and print your Halloween photos.

Now lets get our spooky on!


Photo Project: In and Out

Doors and windows are great subjects for photography. Open or closed, they can tell stories about what’s on the other side. Their rectangular shapes create beautiful symmetries and framing for composition.

Here are some tips and things to think about when photographing doors and windows.

Balancing Act: If you’re shooting with your iPhone or a camera with a wider angle lens, beware of barrel distortion, which will curve the straight lines of your door or window. You can mitigate this effect by moving away from the door and then cropping your photo later.

Lost in Translation: You can define your concept of a door or window in very broad terms. How about an arch or a gate? A hole in the wall? Use your imagination to stretch the meaning for some creative results.

Found in Transition: Try choosing some doors that have regular use. If you can capture people entering and exiting you can get some great portraits.

Into the Light: Doors are often recessed into walls, so tend to be shadowy. Or, if they are open they may reveal a much darker or brighter light source emanating from within. Keep your exposure in mind when you are setting up your shot. Are you focusing on the door, or what’s behind it? Or both?

Check out more examples of of Door & Window photography in this shared photo set


Photo Project: Standing Room Only


How often do you stop and take a look at where you’re standing? Beaches, forests, lawns – and especially city streets – can visually communicate a sense of location in an artful way. Taking photos of your feet is a fun and quirky way to capture an anonymized self-portrait. So take a moment to look down and see what’s around you. Here are some tips and ideas:

Street Style: If you’re in a city, keep an eye out for decorative elements that most people would normally miss. You’ll be surprised how many towns use elaborate design elements on things like manhole covers and drainage grates. Also check intersections for street names inlaid in metal in the pavement.

Bend the Rules: Your feet don’t actually have to be on the ground. Prop them up with a view. Take a ride on a Ferris Wheel. Maybe leave some footprints in the sand.

More is More: Add more feet and make it “Where We Stand” shot. Crowded buses and train platforms are perfect. It’s more fun when it’s more than just *your* feet.

Calling Ms. Marcos: If you have a thing for shoes, this is a great way to document your collection.

Get inspired: Check out the “from where I stand” collection on Flickr.


Shadowland: How to take great silhouette photography with your iPhone


Silhouettes are a beautiful way to capture the lines and form of a subject. Best of all, you can take silhouettes almost anywhere. All you need is a bright source of light. Hint: A large ball of flaming gas in the sky that rhymes with “fun”. 

Ready to get started? First, download the Keepsy app, and click the “+” to start your own Silhouette photo set.

Here are some tips for shooting great silhouettes with your iPhone:

No Flash: Turn off your flash. The whole point is to darken your subject, so don’t point light at it.

Framing: Silhouettes require a lot of contrast so remember to put your subject between you and your light source. If you imagine standing at the center of a clock dial, if your subject is at 12 0′clock, you want the light source somewhere between 11 and 1.

Exposure: Set your exposure to the brightest area on screen so your silhouette is as dark as possible. This will also properly expose the areas surrounding your silhouette.

Monochrome: Experiment with black and white filters, as well as sepia and cyan to get different effects. If you’re using the Keepsy app camera, try applying ‘Concorde’ filter for a stark contrast.

Split Focus If you are using Camera+ to shoot, use the split focus/exposure feature by spreading your fingers on the screen. Place the exposure indicator on the brightest area of the frame, while placing the focus indicator on the subject. This will ensure your subject has crisp lines while preserving the juicy contrast you’re after. 

While you’re at it, invite some friends to add their silhouettes to your photo set and make it a group project. 

Want to see some more silhouettes? Here are some samples.


Project 365: How to start a daily photo journal (and keep it up)


I love the idea of a diary, but I’m way too lazy, busy, distracted… (pick any excuse) to actually do it. That’s why I keep a daily photo journal. With the Keepsy app, it’s a really fun way to document my life, and the iPhone makes it ridiculously easy since it’s always with me.

What’s the best way to get started? Here are some tips:

Pick a time you’ll be free to take photos. This might be when you are brushing your teeth or maybe when you’re winding down after work. The key is to you choose a time you’re not busy (e.g. driving, in class, or in a meeting).

Set a daily alarm: Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your iPhone makes an excellent alarm clock. Set an alarm – or a few – so that you’ll remember to take the photo. When the alarm goes off, just fire up the Keepsy and add your photo to the 365 Project that appears when you install the app. I have two alarms set – one for 10:20am and the other for 7:15pm. That way If I miss the morning shot, there’s always time for a make-up later.

Share with friends: It’s fun to see what other friends are doing and where they are at the exact same time. So invite some friends to add their photos by sharing the project with them. Be sure to tell them to set their alarms, too! 

Walk the Plank: Push the limits of your creativity by adding a theme. Maybe your daily photo always includes the same object in different location. Maybe it’s a self-portrait in a new pose or facial expression each day. Tebow-ing and Planking come to mind… but we’re sure you can improve on that.

Best of all, at the end of the year, you can print your best shots in a photo book, and voila, you have your journal.

So go set your alarms and get snapping!


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