Tools and Tips for Still Life iPhoneography

Some professional photographers are bashful to admit that they sometimes set their DSLRs aside for their iPhones. But, when push comes to shove, the portability and convenience of a camera phone is an incredibly valuable tool for any image maker to have in their arsenal. So, why not employ techniques that ensure the best images possible? Peter McKinnon shares a few tidbits of advice that can make the humble cell phone reach the high standards of any professional:

  • Look for the most light. In a home or building, seek out rooms with windows and ample natural daylight. Outside, take note of the intensity and direction of the sun and plan accordingly. The more light you have to work with, the more detail your sensor will be able to register.
  • Invest in a reflector of some sort. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a top of the line model ordered from a specialty store—a large piece of foam core can often work wonders. Naturally, the way that light falls upon subjects isn’t always picture perfect. A reflector is an excellent remedy for troublesome shadows, providing subtle yet essential fill light.
  • Be creative. Look at the things around you a bit differently. For instance, in this tutorial, McKinnon uses a cookie sheet as a backdrop to create a grungy look that completely transforms the setting of his image.

still life before and after edit

  • If a picture isn’t perfect, don’t delete it right off the bat. The truth is, you may have an excellent image on your hands in need of a bit of TLC.

Helpful Apps for Smartphone Photography

McKinnon suggests enlisting the aid of the following editing apps:

  • Snapseed allows you to easily adjust shadows, highlights and filters with the swipe of a finger. It also allows you changes in vertical and horizontal perspectives to create straighter looking images
  • Lens Distortions adds hints of light, fog, and flares that effect the front glass. This can be incredibly helpful for strengthening an existing light in the composition and enhance contrast in a way that isn’t overbearing. You also have control of the ambiance and can completely alter the color temperature of the light coming into your shot.
  • Instagram is all that’s needed to apply slight global changes, such as a pinch of sharpening and or a hint of brightness

Photography is a medium that takes time and practice to perfect. No two moments are exactly the same, and every shoot has its own obstacles to overcome. However, your phone can bring you to the place you’d like to be as a photographer faster than ever. Employ the same care and creativity to the photographs made on your iPhone that you would to the photos made with a DSLR. With the right perspective, you may surprise yourself by just what you’re capable of with a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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