Should you sell your DSLR and just shoot with an iPhone? People ask me this when they see me shooting with my iPhone. No, I won’t be selling! And you shouldn’t either. Here’s the reason.
- Controlling Your Aperture
- Using Your Aperture for Special Effects
- You’ll need something dark for contrast.
- You’ll need patience, a camera, and an iPhone. Don’t sell your DSLR or your iPhone!
- Don’t sell your DSLR if you want to shoot during the evening Blue Hour.
- There’s also a morning blue hour!
- Don’t give up if the light is bright outside!
- Now it’s your turn.
Controlling Your Aperture
I love my iPhone camera! It takes amazing shots and is fun to have with me. But it has one serious shortcoming. I can’t control my aperture. Each camera on an iPhone (the number of cameras included varies with the model) has a set aperture. You can’t change it. So, to shoot photos with different aperture settings, you’ll need a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.
If you’re an iPhone shooter and are now wondering what an aperture is, it’s the opening that allows light to enter your camera. On iPhone cameras, the lenses are a fixed size. On the other hand, with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can set the size of the opening. Your camera lens controls the aperture.
Using Your Aperture for Special Effects
One of my favorite tricks is using my aperture to create sunbursts and starbursts in my photos. I do this by setting a narrow aperture (a high aperture number.)
In the sunset silhouette of my husband, I positioned him on a bench overlooking the James River as the sun was setting. There was enough light to illuminate him slightly, so it was not a total silhouette. Instead, I positioned myself to catch the red rim light around his face and body. Then, I made sure to include the sun in the frame.
If I had shot this with my iPhone, the sun would have been a large blob on the left side of the photo. Instead, I was able to set my aperture to f/11. That created the sunburst. This is a good reason not to sell your DSLR!
You’ll need something dark for contrast.
The branches of the sunburst or starburst won’t show up if you don’t have something darker around the sun or light. In the sunset photo above, the clouds and the river provided a dark contrast.
I shot this photo of backlit autumn leaves at 7:30 in the morning in late October. The sun was low on the horizon, and I positioned it behind the leaves. The backlit leaves alone made a beautiful fall shot, but the addition of the sunburst added a focal point and more excitement. I set my aperture to f/14 to achieve this look.
You’ll need patience, a camera, and an iPhone. Don’t sell your DSLR or your iPhone!
It pays to do your research. I wanted to capture artistic photos of the grapes at the Williamsburg Winery. I used various apps, including Google maps and PhotoPills, to determine when and where the sun would be setting behind the vines. (We really need both our DSLRs and our iPhones for photography!)
Then, I went early to scout for a good vine with plenty of colorful grapes. The nearby trees complicated matters, as did the clouds that kept drifting by, but the sun finally came out, right where I needed it. Then I took a series of photos, moving just a little each time. Finding the perfect position was more trial and error than science!
I was hoping to capture the glowing, translucent grapes. An aperture of f/11 added the sunburst. I shot photos with the sun and without, and the sunburst made all the difference!
Don’t sell your DSLR if you want to shoot during the evening Blue Hour.
This is another photo that took research. We needed a good place to shoot light trails with a skyline backdrop in Shanghai. The usual skyline shots are from opposite directions across the Huangpu River. But we wanted the blue sky and the building lights. So, we found an overpass, set up our tripods, and waited. (The Blue Hour is much faster than an hour, by the way. It’s the time just after sunset or just before the sun rises, when the sky is blue instead of black.)
Just after sunset, we were rewarded with this view of the Oriental Pearl Tower with the lights on. Setting a narrow aperture of f/22 allowed for a slow shutter speed of 5 seconds. My DSLR captured the trails formed by the taillights of cars entering the tunnel under the river, while the narrow aperture also turned the various lights in the scene into starbursts.
There’s also a morning blue hour!
We hoped to capture a sky with puffy clouds that reflected the rising sun for this photo. As luck would have it, we arrived at our chosen spot overlooking Gordes, France, on a perfectly clear morning. I could have shot this photo with my iPhone, but it lacked an important detail. My DSLR, set with a narrow aperture of f/11, turned the streetlights into starbursts. They saved the photo! This is another example of why you shouldn’t sell your DSLR!
Don’t give up if the light is bright outside!
Because you need a dark area in the photo, it’s easier to shoot these photos in lower light. But if you look around, you’ll be surprised by what you can use for contrast.
This photo of a backlit tree (a Japanese Zelkova) in a parking lot was taken at 3 p.m. Can you see the deep shadow under the smaller tree in the background? I positioned myself with the large tree between the sun and me and then moved around until I could get enough of the sun shining through. It definitely wasn’t dark out yet, but the narrow aperture of f/11 worked!
Now it’s your turn.
If you’d like to know more about controlling the aperture on your camera, click here to learn about the Camera Mechanics Workshop. You’ll learn about aperture and so much more!
Here’s another blog post I’ve written about using aperture mode: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/set-your-camera-to-aperture-mode/
And here’s a link to an article about iPhones and ways you can mimic wide or narrow aperture settings using apps. You can’t create sunbursts or starbursts, though: https://www.iphone-fotograaf.nl/en/the-aperture-of-the-iphone-how-to-change-it/.