As part of its widespread push for Earth Day, Apple offered a peek inside its bank of knowledge by offering Genius Bar staff-led photography masterclasses around London’s largest public square.
The technology giant provided attached camera lens, tripods and know-how as it led a group around Lincoln’s Inn Fields in central London, all part of its scheme to promote the natural world, conservation and the environment.
Not only that, but following the hour or so walkabout, complete with constant tips and advice, there’s an editing session back at the Covent Garden Apple Store to touch up the best photos captured on the walk.
We were lucky enough to take part in one of the walks, this is what we learned.
1. Different lenses for different occasions
The camera on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is the best one Apple has ever put in a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can still improve it. Attachable lenses are such a way, and they’re not a new thing either. They’re also a big part of the walk and at the first stop – on the way to the park in fact at Freemason’s Hall – the first opportunity to try out different lenses.
The first was a wide angle lens, which as the name suggests increases the degree of sight the camera lens on your smartphone has.
It came in handy here, enabling us to go from a fairly simple shot of the front of the building to capturing more of its scale and adding an almost panoramic effect to it.
The widely known manual exposure tool – tapping an area of the screen to alter the brightness – also helped in this instance.
2. Going Macro
Getting real detail into close-up shots using a smartphone camera is still difficult, which is where macro lenses come in handy. If you’re not familiar with them, a macro lens introduces magnification, making it easier to focus on a subject even when close to it.
The result is that is was possible to capture some interesting details on the water fountain at the entrance to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
3. Scale can have an impact too
Using a macro lens for magnification is one thing, but giving that close-up some scale can have an even greater impact.
Once in the park, we were challenged to try and capture a bug or insect to give a photo that has scale.
4. Burst is best
As we discovered on the walk, trying to photograph tiny flowers up close in a breeze doesn’t lend itself to easy focusing.
To counter this, it was suggested that we use Burst mode – holding down on the camera shutter button to capture a series of images, as this would give the best chance of grabbing an image in focus.
It’s not an exact science, but did give us at least a better chance in less than perfect conditions.
As well as the tripods, lenses and other tools we had with us while out on the walk, our Apple guides also encouraged us to experiment.
One way we did this was to try using the remote capture button on an Apple Watch, meaning we could place our phone somewhere and take a picture remotely. We went for the “ant perspective” photo.
Not our best effort, but at least it got us thinking differently about how to take nature photos on a smartphone – the driving force behind the tour in the first place, as Earth Day arrives once again.
We’re still very much amateurs, as these photos show, but the tours do offer a chance to learn more about how to take better smartphone photos – a handy tool given how many images are now taken using mobile devices.
Though Apple has already run walks in both London and Edinburgh, Photo Walks will continue worldwide after Earth Day – The next Photo Walk in London will be at Apple Store Covent Garden, May 14.