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Home / Tips and Tricks / Tips for iPhone SE cameras: 6 ways to spice up your smartphone photos

Tips for iPhone SE cameras: 6 ways to spice up your smartphone photos


Using the 3×3 grid, I was able to easily place these large stones in the foreground and keep the bridge in the upper third of the frame, resulting in a more balanced composition overall.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The iPhone SE may not have the same triple camera setting found on iPhone 11 Pro, men his only camera can still take pictures that think its affordable price tag. Whether you are an enthusiastic Instagrammer or just following some great photos of your kids in the garden, there are various ways to hugely enhance your photography from your phone.

Since I am the generous variety, I have compiled my best tips here.

Nail your composition

To achieve its lower price tag, the iPhone SE killed the multi-camera matrix for its more expensive sibling. Although it is lighter for the wallet, it naturally limits the photography options you have when you are traveling. You will not be able to switch to the ultrasound lens to capture everything in front of you, nor will you be able to zoom in on specific details using the telephoto lens.

As a result, you really need to focus on how you compose your photos when taking them. My advice is to go into the camera settings in the main settings menu and turn on the net. This gives you a 3×3 overlay when taking pictures that makes it easier to place your pictures in accordance with the photography rule of thirds, which can help to get a more visually appealing composition when you are out taking pictures.

Look for leading lines, such as a path or wall that draws the viewer’s gaze into the scene, or interesting foreground objects (such as a patch of flowers or a large piece of driftwood) to enhance your sea landscape.

Use your feet and move around the stage to find the best angles. No, you do not have a built-in wide-angle lens, but maybe you can just back up a few steps to get that church tower in a frame. Remember that you can improve a lot of bad lighting or colors in editing, but you can not save bad composition, so try not to chop off someone’s head when taking their portrait.


By choosing the right time of day, I was able to get beautiful sunset colors over this stunning part of Edinburgh.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Enter the light

IPhone SE does not have night mode or Deep Fusion processing as iPhone 11 Pro uses to reduce image noise and enhance details in low light. As a result, iPhone SE can take OK pictures in low light, but your best results are taken during the day.

If you are planning a photo shoot out and about, you can try to time it so that you give your phone the best chance of success. Avoid in the middle of the day when the sun will create harsh lights and deep shadows and avoid the night where the phone will struggle even more. Late in the afternoon, as the sun is heading towards sunset, it is likely that you can get some stunning scenery with bold colors and satisfying contrast.


By using the long exposure tool, this raging water has been wiped out in an even, ethereal flow.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Use Live Photos to create dreamy long exposures

Live Photos not only let your photos come alive with a few seconds of video – they have a hidden feature that can completely transform many of your photos. By swiping up an image in your gallery to bring up the ‘Effects’ panel and then swiping over to ‘Long Exposure’, the phone can blur all the movements in the scene to give the same effect as taking a really long exposure photo for several seconds.

The best substance to use for this is running water, whether it is a stream, the sea that drops by the shore or a waterfall that falls over rocks. I love long exposure images of waterfalls because it turns the rushing water into a silky blur, while the static rocks remain needle sharp. To get the same image on a DSLR requires a tripod and usually some expensive filters, so it’s great to be able to get an almost identical effect, handheld, with just the phone.

You can apply the long exposure effect to any Live photo you take at any time, so make sure the Live Photo icon is active on the camera screen when you take your photos.


Moment’s lenses can add wide-angle views or let you get close with macro images. It is shown here on a Samsung Galaxy S10, but the case and lenses are now available for iPhone SE.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Add some accessories

The iPhone SE may seem limited with its single camera, but there are accessories that can significantly increase its functionality. The manufacturer Moment produces a series of extremely high-quality lenses that are attached to phone-specific cases and has recently launched a version that supports iPhone SE.

Moment’s lenses include telephoto options as well as wide angle, so using these can help make SE’s individual camera more in line with the iPhone 11 Pro’s three cameras. Torque also makes various filters including circular polarizers, which can be good for reducing glare and reflections in images, giving your images a more professional look.

If you want to go even further into the professional field, you may even consider getting one Profoto B10 studio light, which allows you to take the type of product or portrait photos you would normally only be able to take with professional cameras. For almost $ 1,700, this accessory is several times the price of the iPhone SE, so it’s unlikely to be an option for most of you, but if you’re a photographer already using a B10 for their professional work, remember that you can also now use it with your iPhone.


By using burst mode, I was able to select my shot just when I was at the height of my jump.

Katie Collins / CNET

Capture the action with burst mode

The iPhone SE can take 10 frames per second with burst mode, making it perfect for capturing the split second action. But the function is a little more hidden than it used to be.

Instead of holding down the shutter button (as before, but now activating video recording), you must drag the shutter-release button to the left if you hold it in portrait orientation, or drag it down if you are in landscape mode. Hold it down and it takes hundreds of pictures in super fast succession.

It is an excellent tool to keep in mind for all fast subjects, whether it is your child who is going to swing a bat or a dog who is jumping for a treatment. You must try to predict when the action will happen and make sure you start the burst mode in time to capture the moment. Once you have taken the series of images, you can view the bar in your gallery, press ‘Select’ to go through each image to select the exact image that captures the action you want it to.


By converting this shot to black and white and making some exposure and contrast adjustments, this scene has been transformed into a humorous navy painting.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Edit for impact

If you really want your images to appear from the screen, consider giving them some adjustments in an editing app. My favorite is Adobe Lightroom Mobile, which gives detailed control over exposure and color settings in much the same way as the desktop version of Lightroom. Snapseed offers similar features and is free in the App Store.

You can get more creative with apps like PicsArt, Photoshop Camera or Prisma, which allow you to apply a variety of bizarre creative effects to your photos, add new skies or other elements or mix different images to create unique works of art.

Remember that there is no limit to what you can do with your photos in the amount of editing apps available, so my advice is to make a cup of tea, sit down in a comfortable chair and see what you can achieve. Be sure to check it out my summary of my best photo editing apps on iPhone.

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