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Here’s how to take fantastic iPhone 13 Pro macro photos, according to award-winners

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The macro capabilities of Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro may require a second look.

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I was back at Apple’s Fifth Avenue flagship store after more than two years away. The invitation was to join Apple is showcasing a group of amateur photographers who have mastered macro photography using the iPhone 13 Pro.

 

Last year, Apple finally brought macro photography to its iPhone line, following in the footsteps of smartphone upstarts like OnePlus, which had previously offered the feature but had mysteriously removed it from its flagship One Plus 10 Pro.

It felt like ‘before times’ standing in the big, underground room, which was filled with Apple customers, fans, and, today, photographers.

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It turned out that this was one of the first in-person “Today at Apple” events hosted at the flagship store since before the pandemic, and you could feel the anticipation and a tinge of worry in the air. There are so many people.

 

I tracked down two of the Apple macro photography contest winners and inquired about how they captured their winning images before the Wednesday night ceremony, where a trio of Apple execs mostly dealing with camera technology (but who were not available to speak with me) explained why they chose the photos (and extolled the virtues of macro photography) and before Apple gave attendees the chance to try macro photography on phones they did not (yet) own.

 

Tom Reeves, a tall skinny guy with a broad smile, was one of them, eager to show me how he captured a snowflake on his puppy’s back.

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“How?” I asked.

Reeves told me he saw his chance when he looked down at his puppy, who was “turning like a little snowflake Christmas tree.” He took the iPhone 13 Pro out of his pocket with one hand while holding the leash in the other, and moved in close enough to activate the macro mode. He captured the shot after the camera locked onto that one flawless snowflake.

Cassanelli’s details, on the other hand, were slightly more produced than Reeves’, as he gathered the colored glass on a beach in Zogali, Italy, placed it on the sand, poured a little water on the glass mosaic, and then came near enough to take a macro shot.

Overall, the winning photographs were beautiful and even startling, especially the ones of a strawberry in Coke and a cat peering out a window (probably sighted a bird).

The iPhone 13 Pro’s macro skills haven’t particularly wowed me, especially the default control settings, but the contest and the ensuing photographs have made me reevaluate the device. I tried capturing a few of my macros both outside and within the office. They’re not as good, but I’m sure none of them had as much light as some of these photos, which were all bathed in sunlight. Apple didn’t say how much, if any, editing was done to each of the winning images.

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Apple’s smartphone photography in macro mode isn’t perfect yet, but it has promise. Maybe all I have to do now is wait for the proper moment, get near, and then snap

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