IPhone SE Photo Tips: 6 Ways To Master Your Camera

Using the 3×3 grid, I was able to easily place these large rocks in the foreground, keeping the deck in the upper third of the frame, resulting in a more balanced composition overall.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Apple’s cheapest current phone, the iPhone SE might miss the high-end camera prowess iPhone 12 Pro Max, But his only camera can still take pictures that will wow your Instagram followers. Whether you just want better shots of your kids playing on your next trip or have your eyes set on the photography celebrity, there are plenty of ways to enhance your images with this phone.

Being the kind of generous guy that I am, I’ve put together my best tips here.

Nail your composition

To achieve its lower price, the iPhone SE ditched its more expensive sibling’s multicamera lineup. While this is easier on the wallet, it naturally limits the shooting options you’ll have when you’re on the go. You won’t be able to switch to the ultra-wide lens to capture everything in front of you, or zoom in on specific details using the telephoto lens.

As a result, you will need to really focus on how you compose your images when you take them. My advice is to go to the camera settings in the main settings menu and activate the grid. This will give you a 3×3 overlay when shooting images, which will make it easier to align your images according to the “rule of thirds” of photography, which could help achieve a more attractive composition when shooting.

Look for guidelines, like a path or wall that draws the viewer’s eye into the scene, or interesting foreground objects (like a square of flowers or a large piece of driftwood) to enhance your seascapes.

Use your feet and move around the scene you are in to find the best angles. No, you don’t have a built-in wide angle lens, but maybe you could just take a few steps back to get the frame of this church tower. Remember, you can improve a lot of bad lighting or colors when editing, but you can’t save a bad composition, so try not to cut off the top of someone’s head when picking up their portrait.


By just choosing my time of day, I was able to get some beautiful sunset colors over this beautiful part of Edinburgh.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Go into the light

The iPhone SE doesn’t have Night Mode, or the Deep Fusion processing that the iPhone 12 Pro uses to reduce image noise and improve detail in low light. As a result, iPhone SE can take decent photos in low light, but your best results will be taken during the day.

If you are planning an outdoor photography session, try to time it to give the phone the best chance for success. Avoid the middle of the day when the sun above will create harsh light and deep shadows, and avoid at night when the phone will struggle even more. In the late afternoon, as the sun goes down, you will probably be able to admire stunning landscapes with vivid colors and satisfying contrasts.


Using the long exposure tool blurred this raging water into a smooth, ethereal flow.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Use Live Photos to create dreamy long exposures

Live Photos doesn’t just make your images come to life with seconds of video – they have a hidden feature that can completely transform many of your images. By swiping over an image from your gallery to bring up the Effects panel, then swiping to Long Exposure, the phone can blur any movement in the scene to give the same effect as taking a real long exposure shot over several seconds. .

The best subject to use for this is running water, whether it’s a stream, the ocean lapping on the shore, or a waterfall cascading over rocks. I love long exposure images of waterfalls because they turn the tumultuous water into a silky blur, while the static rocks remain crisp. Getting the same shot on a DSLR requires a tripod and usually expensive filters, so it’s amazing that you can get a nearly identical effect, handheld, using just the phone.

You can apply the long exposure effect to any live photo you have taken at any time, so make sure the Live Photo icon is active on the camera screen when you take it. your images.


Moment’s lenses can add wide-angle views or let you get up close with macro shots. It’s pictured here on a Samsung Galaxy S10, but the case and lenses are now available for the iPhone SE.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Add accessories

The iPhone SE may seem limited with its only camera, but there are accessories available that can dramatically increase its functionality. Accessory maker Moment produces a range of very high-quality lenses that attach to specific phone cases and recently released a version that supports iPhone SE.

Moment’s lenses include telephoto options as well as a wide angle, so using them can help align the SE’s single camera more with the iPhone 11 Pro’s three cameras. Moment also makes various filters, including circular polarizers, which can be great for helping reduce glare and glare in images, making your photos look more professional.

If you want to go even further in the professional field, you may even consider getting a Profoto B10 studio strobe light, which can allow you to take the kind of product or portrait images that you would normally only be able to take with professional cameras. At nearly $ 1,700, this accessory costs several times the price of the iPhone SE, so it’s unlikely to be an option for most of you, but if you’re a photographer who already uses a B10 for its professional work, keep in mind that you can now use it with your iPhone as well.


Using burst mode, I was able to select the photo of myself as I was at the height of my jump.

Katie Collins / CNET

Capture the action with burst mode

The iPhone SE can take 10 photos per second using burst mode, making it ideal for capturing that split-second action. But the function is a little more hidden than before.

Instead of pressing and holding the shutter button (as it did before, but this now activates video recording), you need to slide the shutter button to the left, if you hold it in portrait orientation, or drag it down if you are in landscape. Hold it down and it will take hundreds of images in very quick succession.

This is a great tool to keep in mind for any fast-paced subject, whether it’s your kid about to swing a bat or a dog jumping for a treat. You will need to try to anticipate when the action is going to happen and make sure you start Burst Mode in time to capture the moment. Once you have taken the series of photos, you can view the stack in your gallery, tap To select to cycle through each frame to select the exact shot that captures the action the way you want.


By converting this photo to black and white and making some exposure and contrast adjustments, this scene was transformed into a moody seascape.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Edit for impact

If you really want your images to pop off the screen, you might want to give them some adjustments in an editing app. My favorite is Adobe Lightroom Mobile, which gives granular control over exposure and color settings in the same way as the desktop version of Lightroom. Snapseed offers similar functionality and is free on the App Store.

You can be more creative with apps like PicsArt, Photoshop Camera or Prisma, which allow you to apply a variety of weird creative effects to your images, add new skies or other elements, or mix various images. to create unique works of art.

Remember that there is no limit to what you can do with your images in the multitude of editing apps available, so my advice is brew a cup of tea, settle into a comfortable chair and see what you can achieve. Make sure to check my roundup of my best iPhone photo editing apps.

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