Using Lightroom Mobile for iPhone food photography is a great way to improve your iPhone food images. Adobe Lightroom is a very popular editing software that a lot of professional photographers use for editing their photos. The cool thing about the Lightroom Mobile app is that you get access to the camera app settings and all the editing features directly on your iPhone. This post shares an overview of the Lightroom Mobile camera app, what the different settings are and what they do, so you can start experimenting today.
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DSLR vs. iPhone
There’s a pretty big misconception when it comes to improving your food images that I want to clear up right away.
People often think they need a “fancy DSLR” to take “better pictures.” But, the truth is, photography isn’t about what camera you have, it’s about knowing how to use the camera you have. If you take food images with your iPhone, you simply need to learn how to use it.
A DSLR camera is a great camera that gives you the option to take more control over your camera settings. But, in order to take more control, you need to learn how to shoot in manual mode. Manual mode means that you manually adjust your aperture, shutter speed & ISO. Instead of the camera making those decisions for you, you make the decisions.
This same concept of taking control of your camera settings – or learning manual mode – also applies to your iPhone camera.
The Lightroom mobile camera app gives you access to more of your iPhone camera settings. Once you start experimenting with these settings, you’ll start seeing how you can improve your food images pretty quickly.
Lightroom Mobile Camera Settings
There are several iPhone photo apps out there, but Lightroom Mobile is one of the more robust camera apps. I love it because it pretty much turns your iPhone camera into a mini DSLR giving you access to settings that you didn’t even know you had.
Download the LR Mobile app (it’s free) and let’s get started!
Professional vs. Auto Mode
After you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to switch from AUTO to PRO mode. The app will default to Auto mode when you open it, so you’ll need to change this manually.
HOW TO ACCESS PROFESSIONAL MODE IN LIGHTROOM MOBILE
- When you first open the LR camera app it will default to Auto in the lower left corner.
- To change this setting, tap Auto in the lower left corner and select Professional from the menu that pops up.
- After you have switched to Professional mode, you’ll see more camera settings show up at the bottom of the screen.
These additional camera settings you’ll see at the bottom (from left to right) include:
- Exposure (Exp)
- Shutter Speed (Sec)
- WB (white balance)
- Auto & Manual Focus
Your exposure is how bright or dark you want your image to be. To adjust this, tap the EXP and move the slider left or right and watch what happens to your image. It will get brighter or darker and you can decide what looks best depending on the type of light you’re working with.
Shutter Speed (SEC)
The Sec is your shutter speed. To adjust it, just tap the SEC and move the slider left or right. Your shutter speed is basically how fast your camera takes the picture or how fast the shutter closes.
A faster shutter speed will make your image darker, because your shutter isn’t exposed to the light very long. You can also freeze motion (no blur) with a faster shutter speed. For example, you might want to freeze the motion of a splash if you were shooting drinks.
A slower shutter speed will make your image brighter, because your shutter is open longer and exposed to the light. This also allows you to blur motion instead of freeze it. For example, you might want to capture fast moving hands in the kitchen.
Keep in mind that a slower shutter speed will require you to stabilize your iPhone on a tripod. This is because the slower your shutter speed is, the more easily your camera will pick up movement, including camera shake if you’re holding your camera.
ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light. To adjust your ISO, tap it within the settings and move the slider left and right.
The higher your ISO, the more sensitive your camera will be to light, which helps make your image brighter. Keep in mind that a higher ISO can cause noise or a grainy look in your images.
The lower your ISO, the less sensitive it will be to light. With food photography, a lower ISO is typically better for a nice smooth image.
Your white balance is the color temperature of your image. Sometimes images can appear too blue (cool) or too yellow (warm). Adjusting the white balance helps you find the right color balance for your images and this will vary depending on your lighting.
Tap the WB to expose the different settings. The WB settings include:
- Auto (AWB stands for auto white balance)
Auto & Manual Focus
Auto focus is usually pretty reliable, but if you want to experiment with Manual focus with your iPhone tap the little brackets with the plus sign. A slider will appear that you can slide left or right.
As you move the slider in one direction, the areas that are actually in focus will highlight in green. Because iPhone screens aren’t very big, it can be hard to see if your image is truly in focus. This is why the manual focus feature can be really helpful. When you see the green highlights, you know your image is focused and good to go.
Reset does exactly what you think it will do. If you adjust all of your settings for one image and want to start from scratch for the next image, you can tap Reset and it will reset your settings so you can start fresh.
Lightroom Mobile Image Settings
The LR Mobile camera app lets you select what format you want your images to be. You get to choose between DNG and JPG, so let’s talk about what each of them mean.
DNG Image Format
DNG is the iPhone’s version of a RAW image. This is an uncompressed image that gives you full editing capabilities. The drawback is that because they are uncompressed images, they will take up more space in your image library.
JPG Image Format
JPG images are compressed images, which means you won’t have as much flexibility with editing. The nice thing about a compressed image is that it won’t take up as much space in your image library.
HOW TO SET YOUR IMAGES TO DNG OR JPG
To choose your image format, go to the top center of the screen. It will either say JPG or DNG. To switch between the two, tap and select the format you prefer.
The Lightroom camera lets you choose between different lenses depending on how many lenses your iPhone camera has. The newer iPhone models have three, some older versions only have one or two.
Typically you’ll have a wide angle lens (shows more) and a telephoto lens (more zoomed in) to choose from in the LR mobile camera app.
To switch between the lenses, tap the lens icon to the right of the camera button and select the one you want.
Extra Camera Tools in Lightroom Mobile
There are a few more camera tools that you can play with in the Lightroom Mobile app. If you click the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen, the extra tools will appear.
From left to right, they include:
- Aspect Ratio
- Grid & Level
- Highlight Clipping and Settings
Your aspect ratio is where you choose the width and height of your image. This is important to consider when shooting images for specific media like different social media platforms and websites.
You can set a timer for when you want your iPhone to take the picture. I don’t recommend using the timer, though, because it can be tricky to get the timing juuuuust right. I suggest getting a remote shutter release instead. This little tool helps you take a picture when you want without needing to touch your iPhone or master the timer countdown.
Grid & Level
The grid is a really great tool to help you with your image composition. There are different grids to choose from, but I highly recommend the “thirds” grid so you can start thinking about the Rule of Thirds with your compositions.
READ MORE ABOUT: FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION TIPS
The level is also great, because it will let you know if your camera is positioned correctly. For example, with overhead shots, it’s easy to assume your camera is in the right position. But, even if it’s slightly off, it could affect how your image looks making it look sort of awkward. The level will align when it’s in the right spot and will look broken when it’s off. Take advantage of that tool so your images come out looking straight.
The highlight clipping in the LR camera indicates when your image may have certain areas that are too overexposed or underexposed. Usually when this highlight occurs, it means there isn’t any information within the image to work with, so you won’t be able to correct it during editing. You’ll want to avoid having areas of your image too bright or too dark by adjusting your camera settings to create a nicely exposed image.
The three dots either hide or reveal these extra settings. Simply tap it to hide or show the extra settings as you need them.
Lightroom Mobile for iPhone food photography is a really great camera tool. Take some time to experiment with each of tools and settings to see how they can help your images improve. Reach out with questions anytime.
READ MORE ABOUT: IPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS & ACCESSORIES
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All images ©Regan Baroni 2022.