Categories:> Lifestyle, Photography

Vivid iPhone Photography 2015 Guide

Vivid Light, Music & Ideas Festival is about to kick off again in Sydney for 2015, bringing to life many of our favourite buildings including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, etc.

This year Vivid will kick off on Friday, 22nd of May and go right through until the 8th of June – with many smaller events also occurring throughout those dates.

You’ll be able to see lights (as well as interactive displays) in Circular Quay, Martin Place, Darling Harbour, along with new additions at Chatswood and Sydney Central (Ultimo/Broadway).

For more information about Vivid I’d suggest check the official website  for more tips about iPhone Photography at night, as well as their own suggestions for Apps and Accessories.

So how can we take the best photos of Vivid from our iPhones? In this guide I’m going to talk about just that, plus a number of helpful accessories, applications to enhance your photos, and more.

iPhone Camera TipsiPhone Camera

The camera app is simple to use but there are some less obvious features that will improve your chances of taking a great photo with a range of manual controls.

Don’t use flash…

This might seem obvious, but is all too common a mistake. The built-in iPhone flash is suitable for night portraits, but not when you are trying to capture vibrant scenery and lights, such as at Vivid.

Lock auto-focus…

The camera on the iPhone will auto-focus and auto-expose while you’re taking photos, and while most of the time this is sufficient, sometimes photos will turn out better when specifying a focus point and adjusting the exposure will make huge difference.

Using this feature will enable you to specifically focus and lock the focus / exposure on your subject (for example if you want to focus on the projections on the Sydney Opera House, and minimise light noise from street lamps, and other light sources).

iPhone Lock auto-focus/auto-exposure

iPhone Lock auto-focus/auto-exposure

Open your camera app and tap and hold where you want until you get a AE/AF LOCK on the screen as shown above. For Vivid it helps to tap and hold on the source of the light then use the step below.

Adjust exposure…

I use this a lot, and have been able to capture much better night-time photos by adjusting the exposure settings.

Once you focus or lock a focus point (as mentioned above) you can also adjust the exposure/brightness of your photo allowing you to brighten and in the best case for bright, colourful displays like at Vivid; darkening the photos will make illuminated subjects stand out – making the surrounds darker, while brining out the light displays more.

iPhone Exposure control

iPhone Exposure control

Simply tap to focus as you do but slide your finger down the screen to adjust the exposure as shown above.

Apps for Vivid

To help get your way around, explore the festival and get the most out of your photo editing use these helpful apps:

Official Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney

With the Vivid Sydney app you can browse and discover all Vivid Sydney Light installations, Music and Ideas events. Vivid Snap is back and allows you to take photos of Vivid Sydney and personalise with words, symbols and light filters.


VSCO Cam is one of those must have apps, especially if you love to take photos with your iPhone. It’s one of the best apps for Photo editing, professional filters and advanced iPhone controls.

‘VSCO Cam is the premier way to shoot, edit, and share your photographs.’

Camera PlusiPhone Camera Plus

I use this app more than the built in app for iPhone because it allows you to capture photos at three focal levels including Maco, Normal and Far, while also having the same manual camera controls I’ve mentioned above.

Helpful Accessories

olloclip iPhone Lens

Clipping onto the top of your iPhone olloclip gives you 4 additional lens type to have fun with including Fish Eye, wide-angle, macro x10 and macro x 15.

All you need to do is attach it on and use your iPhone camera like normal, available from the Apple Online Store and Macintosh Addict.

Magnetic Mount & Tri-pod

This is one of my favourite accessories for iPhone, I even wrote a little about this some months ago – the JOBY GripTight GorillaPod is essentially a mini tripod for your iPhone allowing you to securely place your iPhone anywhere.

Tripod & Mount for iPhone

Tripod & Mount for iPhone

Its magnetic feet let you attach it to anything made of metal, or set it up on uneven ground easily thanks to it’s flexible feet.

It’s available from the Apple Online Store with a XL model for iPhone 6 Plus and L for iPhone 6, 5/5s, etc.


About Ben See all posts by author

Sydney, Australia. Love travel, photography, architecture, technology, gaming, web design/design - 26.

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