iPhone Photo Tips & Tricks

Taking photos on my phone is a daily task around here, and for the longest time I thought my iPhone’s capabilities were limited to opening the camera app and clicking. My photos would turn out okay but nothing compared to my DSLR with all it’s adjustable settings and options.

Then I started learning more and more about my phone’s camera. I learned about the flexibility and customization it has, and in the process I learned how to take better pictures in general. It was a game-changer. And it can be for you too. So without further ado, here are some of the top tips I’ve learned for taking photos and making the most out of your iPhone’s camera app.

Find the Right Light

The best light of the day for taking photos happens at sunset and sunrise – it is called the “golden hour.” This is when the sun casts a warm glow and highlights your photo’s details.

Also, you always want to make sure the sun is facing your subject. This will make a huge difference. If the light is too harsh (think severe shadows) try placing your subject under full shade. These tweaks will literally highlight your subject and get rid of shadows and blowouts. If you only follow one tip, this is the one to try!

Focus, Focus, Focus

It is so important to take the time to manual focus (or tap) on your photo’s subject and give the phone a second to adjust before snapping the picture. This is especially important when taking close-up photos so you can achieve a blurred background effect. Your pictures will continually turn out sharper and less grainy.

Brightening your Photos

This is one of the coolest tricks I have found! On the iPhone, after you tap focus, a little sun icon appears next to the focus box. From there, you can vertically scroll to adjust the picture’s exposure. Scrolling up will allow more light in, and vice versa. This is especially wonderful to try in low light settings where pictures can become dark and gritty.

Selfies 101

I am by no means a selfie expert but I have learned a thing or two about getting the best shot. Always hold the camera extended at arms length and above your face – this will really slim things and prevent double chins (hoorah!). As for lighting, make sure the sun is in front of you or stand in the shade to prevent any harsh shadows or squinting.

If you want a full body shot, set the camera upright on a sturdy surface, like a table, and use the timer. If you have trouble keeping your phone upright, try placing a book behind it. This works great.

Action Shots

Yes, they’re possible! And not difficult at all. To take an action shot (read: rapid succession shots) on your iPhone simply hold down the shutter button. Seriously, that’s it. You’ll be left with lots of photos saved as a group. Then just pick your favorite. This trick is also perfect for capturing candid shots.


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Pure CSS Custom UI Elements Part 1 – Customizing Default Form Elements

This tutorial will teach you how to customize the default UI of some of the most basic form elements using CSS. Specifically, we will customize the default radio buttons, checkboxes, select (aka dropdown) lists, and buttons in Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

With CSS3 we have the ability to customize the appearance of almost any element we want. That’s awesome! Why? Because that means you don’t need to know (or, more importantly, use) any JavaScript. Now all this customization may sound daunting, and granted it does take a few extra steps to get these beautiful customizations actually looking beautiful in all major browsers, but do not be intimidated! The end result is well worth the effort.


First things first, we need to add the markup for the elements that make up our form. This is all of the HTML we will need. Copy and paste this code into your working file:

<!-- Radio Buttons - using images -->
  <input id="male" type="radio" name="gender" value="male">
  <label for="male">Male</label>
  <input id="female" type="radio" name="gender" value="female">
  <label for="female">Female</label>
<!-- Checkboxes - using images -->
  <input id="check1" type="checkbox" name="check" value="check1">
  <label for="check1">Checkbox One</label>
  <input id="check2" type="checkbox" name="check" value="check2">
  <label for="check2">Checkbox Two</label>
<!-- Dropdown List - using images -->
    <option value="1">01</option>
    <option value="2">02</option>
    <option value="3">03</option>
    <option value="2000">2000</option>
    <option value="2001">2001</option>
    <option value="2002">2002</option>
<!-- Buttons - no images! -->
<!-- Two-tone Button -->
  <a href="#">next</a>
  <span class="buttonArrow">&#9656;</span>
<!-- Gradient Button -->
<a href="#" class="grayButton">Cancel</a>


Next comes the fun part: the styling, the customization, the CSS! We are going to keep the basic functionality of our elements but, with just a few rules, change their entire appearance and better integrate them into our overall design. When we’re done, they will look and feel like a well-thought-out, well-executed design element rather than an afterthought.

Radio Buttons

Let’s start with the radio button. We are going to customize the browser’s default UI to look like the screenshots below:

For reference, this is what we are starting out with, by default, after only adding the HTML:

First, we need to indicate that the radio button and checkbox inputs are clickable by changing their label cursors to pointers. We should also adjust their spacing properties to fit our design. Note: The following styles are shared between both the radio buttons and checkboxes:

/* Shared Label Styles */
label {
  cursor: pointer; /* indicates the element is clickable */
  display: inline-block;
  position: relative;
  padding-left: 0px;
  margin-right: 10px;  /* margin between input types */
label:before {
  content: "";
  width: 15px;
  height: 15px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 0;

Now we hide the input radio type, which hides the browser’s default element and style:

/* Radio Buttons */
input[type=radio] {
  display: none;  /* hides the default input element */

Next, to achieve the circle effect of the radio button, we must adjust its border-radius to half of its height and width. We also need to link our custom unselected (or empty) image by replacing its URL with the background-images’s default one below:

.radio label:before {
  border-radius: 8px;	
  background: url(your_unselected_image.png) left center no-repeat;

Lastly, we must link our custom selected (or checked) image to our “checked” radio input:

input[type=radio]:checked + label:before {
  background: url(your_selected_image.png) left center no-repeat;

Keep reading to learn how to style checkboxes, dropdown lists, and buttons.



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