I was across the street from Universal Studios visiting some old friends when I noticed one of the most incredible sunsets in recent memory – somehow appropriate on this day of remembrance. I snapped a few shots to share with you – click through for another (both are handy wallpaper size).
These images are completely unretouched from my iPhone’s camera. Guess it’s not bad for a cell phone after all! Kudos to Apple for the big improvement over the previous iPhones. If you’ve got a 3GS with the new camera, the trick to getting shots like this is to use the spot metering feature. When you tap the screen to autofocus, it also uses that area as a guide to set the exposure. In this sunset example, if left to decide for itself, the camera would have given me this:
See how everything is washed out? That’s because the automatic exposure control looks at the entire image – including the dark foreground – and decides it needs to brighten the whole thing up to balance it all out. But in this case, we don’t want balance – we want the foreground to stay dark and the sky to be properly exposed. In order to make the camera listen, I touched the brightest part of the screen – the sun itself – therefore telling the camera I want it to only look at that part of the picture to decide exposure. Since that part of the image is very bright, it brought down the exposure (the f-stop). If I had wanted the image to be brighter, I would have touched a dark part of the image at the bottom. This is called “spot metering” because you’re choosing the spot you want it to look at for exposure!
If you’ve got a 3Gs, this is the key to taking great pictures. If you’re taking a pic of your friend against a bright background (like the sky), there is a good chance their face will be too dark since it’s bringing the exposure down to make up for the bright background. If this happens, simply tap your friends face (on the screen, silly) and you’ll magically see them get brighter! Simply put, just tap the part of the screen you want exposed properly.
Of course, it would be great if Apple simply built manual exposure control into the camera (would it be so hard to let the volume up and down button bring the f-stop up and down, Apple?) but, for now, spot metering is a big help.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend! I know it’s been slow around here lately, but I’ve got some great stuff planned for next week. Stay tuned!