7 Simple Tips to Take Great Snaps with Your iPhone 15 this Diwali

Diwali is one of the most important festivals in India. And like all festivals, it comes with a lot of social activity, and of course, photography. Which also makes it the perfect occasion to take some great pictures with the new iPhone 15.

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However, unlike other festivals, Diwali comes with its own set of challenges, which means that the trusty “just point and shoot” simplicity that is the default mode of iPhone photography might not work quite as well on this occasion. You might end up with images with light flares and shots that seem too yellow or are riddled with noise and lack of detail.

Fortunately, if you keep a few simple tips in mind, you will still end up with some great photographs of the Festival of Light.


These tips are mainly for the iPhone 15, but many will work with other iPhones, too.

Why snapping pictures on Diwali is different from standard low-light situations

There will be some who will wonder why taking pictures on Diwali is any different from taking snaps in standard low-light conditions. After all, you are shooting at night, with limited lighting, right? Well, not quite.

The thing about Diwali is that it is marked by a lot of small lights, which are often a mix of tiny open lamps (called diyas or deepaks in Hindi) and strings of small, multi-colored electric bulbs, some of which switch on and off at regular frequencies. The combination of tiny flames and lights, both of which flicker, creates a scenario that is rather unique. You have the night and some lights, but these lights are of different hues and brightness, and the result is a zone where normal low-light photography rules do not apply.

There are two ways to tackle Diwali with an iPhone 15. One is the technical one and involves a lot of fiddling with settings, shooting in RAW mode, and doing lots of what they call post-production processing. That is all very well if you are adept at those skills and need professional-level photographs. But what if all you want are some reasonably good photographs, adequate for social media and to give you some literally ‘lit’ memories of the festival of light, and/or cannot be bothered with all the fuss?

Diwali Mobile Photography Tips for iPhone 15

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Well, fret not, for even with all the challenges Diwali presents, you can still take some great pictures of the festival with your iPhone 15. All you have to do is follow these rather simple tips:

Turn off Night mode and the flash too

Yes, you read that right. We know that the Night mode in the iPhone is actually designed to take better low-light photos, especially at night. However, this does not really work that well when there are lights of different hues and lots of movement around. The slight artificial brightening of the Night mode can also sometimes give Diwali pictures a slightly unreal feel.

Our advice is, therefore, to turn the night mode off. There are just too many kinds of lights around for it to work at its best.

As for the flash, while the iPhone 15’s flash is a capable one and is great for lighting up dark spots, you are unlikely to encounter any really dark spots in a festival that is all about light. If anything, the iPhone 15’s flash tends to artificially light up a very small area, which can actually detract from the impact of the lights that make Diwali the festival it is.

So take our word for it: the iPhone 15 is perfectly capable of taking good shots even without the night mode or flash, as we will discover. You can turn off night mode via these steps:

  • Launch the camera app
  • In portrait orientation, you will see two icons on the top left corner – one for flash and one for night mode.
  • Tap both to switch them off – a line will appear across them when you do so.

Use the exposure bar for dark or light situations

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All right, so if we cannot use the Night mode or the flash, how do we handle the situation when we need a little more light in our pictures?

The answer is: by using the exposure slider.

Increase the exposure to get a little more light. And well, if the lights get a little too overwhelming or you are encountering a bit of flare, then just lower the exposure to cut the glare out, although it might make your shots a little darker.

In fact, we would recommend lowering the exposure when you take images of bulbs or lamps – they make the light sources more prominent, cut down on flare, and make the night a little darker. Adjusting the exposure is very simple:

  • Launch the camera app
  • Tap the object/area you want to focus on
  • You will see a square appear where you tap and next to it will be a tiny sun-like icon.
  • Slide this sun icon up or down to increase or decrease exposure, respectively. Don’t worry too much about numbers – the image will change as you move the slider and stop when you think it is fine!

Stick to the main sensor

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus have two cameras on the back, and the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max have three. However, no matter which one of them you are using, we would advise sticking to using the main 48-megapixel sensor for your Diwali photography.

This is because this camera has the biggest sensor on the camera and also the largest aperture (the opening through which light enters the camera), so they are actually best equipped to handle the different kinds of light that mark Diwali. The other sensors are not even close to being in the same league – feel free to use Night mode if you end up using them!

Group shots or wide shots? Go 48 megapixels

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We know you will be tempted to use the ultrawide camera to capture those brightly lit landscapes or group shots. However, our advice would be to resist that temptation and instead go with the main sensor, which is anyway a wide sensor. What’s more, we advocate bumping up the resolution to 48 megapixels, as you will get more details of more people and objects. Also, as the 48-megapixel snap is taken by the main sensor, as we pointed out earlier, you are also using the camera with the largest aperture, and therefore ensuring that you get the most light possible.

You can set the resolution by following these steps

  • Go to Settings
  • Select Camera and select Formats
  • Switch on Resolution Control (Pro Raw and Resolution Control in the iPhone Pro models)

A Word of Caution:

Those 48-megapixel shots are heavy in terms of file size, so don’t overdo them, or you’ll start getting storage shortage warnings. The other sensors also take decent enough shots. Just remember that details can get a little compromised in Diwali light conditions.

Avoid the zoom

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus come with 2x optical zoom, while the Pro series comes with 3x and 5x optical zoom. The point to note, however, is that neither works too well when light conditions are not the greatest. You will have a fair amount of light to work with on Diwali, but it will be scattered, and this really tends to mess up zoomed-up shots.

You are also likely to end up with far more flare when you zoom. Our advice is simple: when you need to zoom, take a step forward. It is going to be much more effective. Digital zoom is to be totally avoided unless you have no other choice, as it will bring in far too much “noise” (those grainy bits) in your photographs.

Use live photos

There is a lot of movement in festive times, and Diwali is no exception. We would therefore recommend leaving Live Photo mode on while shooting. This mode takes multiple shots and then chooses one from them, but it also allows you to see the other shots. So, if you get any shots that seem blurry or not good enough, you can always go to edit mode and choose an alternative shot from the series of snaps from which a picture was chosen. You will be surprised at the choices you get. Just remember that you cannot shoot live photos or ProRAW pictures at 48 megapixels. Turning live photos on is very simple:

  • Launch the camera
  • While holding the camera in portrait orientation, look at the top right corner and tap the icon that seems to be made up of multiple circles. If it is not crossed through, live photos are on. If it is crossed, Live photos are off, and tap the icon to uncross it and switch them on.

Use Portrait mode selectively

The portrait mode on the iPhone is pretty awesome. It keeps the subject in focus and blurs out the background, often producing beautiful bokeh. And you would think it would be tailor-made for Diwali with all those multicolored lights for great bokeh. However, our experience has shown that portrait mode can be a little hit-and-miss in Diwali, with the flare in the lights grouped close together, often resulting in inconsistent bokeh. As one is often shooting at night, the subjects themselves sometimes start looking darker (portrait mode, by default, uses a slight zoom, although this can be turned off). Our advice, then, is to be selective in your use of Portrait mode on your iPhone and to use it only when there is plenty of light.

And one more thing: Make subjects stand next to the lights, not in front of them

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This is pretty basic photography, but it’s amazing how often we forget this (we certainly do). If you are taking a picture of a person, try to make sure they stand next to the lights of the lamps and bulbs and not in front of them. The temptation to take a snap of a person with the “colorful lights in the background” is very real at times of Diwali, but in most cases, you will end up with a slightly dark subject. Our advice is very basic – make the subject stand next to the lights or near them because there is a very real chance of those lights casting shade on them. Literally.

That’s it. Go ahead and have an awesome, happy, snappy, super-lit Diwali!

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