Lonely Planet Writer

The 5 things we learned on Apple's new iPhone 'Photo Walk' tours

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.

Freemasons' Hall
No wide angle lens (Martyn Landi/PA)

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.

Freemasons' Hall
Wide angle lens added (Martyn Landi/PA)

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.

Moss on the water fountain
Moss on the water fountain (Martyn Landi/PA)
Moss on the water fountain
A macro lens adds magnification (Martyn Landi/PA)

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.

Insect on a flower
An insect captured in macro (Martyn Landi/PA)

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.

flower bud
Captured using Burst mode (Martyn Landi/PA)

It’s not an exact science, but did give us at least a better chance in less than perfect conditions.

5. Experiment

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.

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Using the Apple Watch remote (Martyn Landi/PA)

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.

(Press Association)