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Still life photography with the iOS 14

Posted by Carl Poxon on

Whether you’re an experienced photographer or casual iphoneographer, you should take note of the new and improved aspects of the iOS 14’s Camera app. The high-quality camera and features of the iPhone make it possible for even beginner’s to produce high-quality photography.

With the possibility of a second lockdown in the UK, what better time than to take up a new hobby we can practise in the comfort and safety of our own homes? Still life photography is a genre which captures images of inanimate objects. Lighting, positioning and carefully selected props allow a photographer to create art from usually uninteresting objects. With the help of the new iOS 14’s features and apps, still life photography for beginners has never been easier. Allow Beaver Frames to discuss how the iOS 14 can bring your still life photography to the next level.

Still life photography for beginners

Invest in a tripod

When taking still life photography, it is important to avoid a shaking camera, which can result in a blurry image. The best way to prevent this is by investing in a tripod. This helps to take a still image, which, believe it or not, is key to still life photography.

Whether you set up your objects on a table or on the floor, a tripod allows us to shoot steadily from a range of angles. Once we find the perfect position for the phone, we can also rearrange the objects, without having to find that perfect position again.

There are several types of tripods available for iPhones. These range from smaller tripods which can be situated on a platform or the floor. Larger tripods are also available.

Lighting

Lighting is another important feature of still life photography. Rather than direct sunlight, however, indirect natural lighting is most effective. Natural indirect lighting refers to sunlight which passes into a room through a window, rather than direct lighting, which would mean the photography would be taken inside. Natural indirect lighting is also better than direct unnatural lighting from say a lamp. If you want to take still life photographs outside, doing so on a cloudy day or in the shade means the natural lighting will be indirect.

Indirect lighting reduces the power of sunlight, which results in a softer and more evenly lightened image, perfect for still life photography. It also brings out the vividness of colours, which is otherwise reduced by direct lighting.

Having a shoot during the daytime, in a room which the sun doesn’t shine directly through is ideal. If this isn’t possible, however, hanging a white bed sheet over the window allows the natural light to pass through indirectly.

 

 

Objects & props

One of the more difficult aspects of still life photography is selecting objects and props for the shoot. As this element is more subjective than the lighting and angling of the shoot, it can be harder for the photographer to get just right.

Choosing everyday, inanimate objects to depict a mood or emotion is difficult and can be frustrating. However, this element is also what makes still life photography so rewarding and satisfying.

First of all, it is important to consider the intended mood and emotion of the shoot, rather than picking up random objects. Once you’ve thought of this, try to choose items which reflect this mood. For example, if you wanted to depict joy and happiness, then summery objects such as flowers, bright fruits and colourful objects could be effective.

Using rustic items around your home or even purchasing new items especially for the shoot is ok.

Other

It’s also important to apply a personal touch to photography. This makes it unique and your own work. Deciding for yourself which items work best, how many objects to use and the positioning will make the art your own.

Using negative space in still life photography is an effective technique. Negative space refers to the empty spots of the shot, where there are no objects. The use of negative space actually draws the eye more to the objects, resulting in a calming. Less negative space can be used to create a more energetic photograph.

In order to make the most out of negative space however, you will need a fitting backdrop for the piece. First of all, the backdrop should match the intended mood of the image and the chosen objects. For example, a light background could work well with an upbeat, summery shoot, whereas a darker background can work with a darker, wintery piece.

There are plenty of materials and styles you can choose for a backdrop, without spending a fortune. A plain wooden background can give a rustic, vintage feel to the shoot. If you want to make the piece your own then painting a large piece of plywood or heavy fabric canvas allows for more personalisation with the shoot.

Finally, the rule of odds is another helpful tip for taking still life photography. Subconsciously, our minds are drawn more to designs which feature odd numbers, as our eyes move around the frame more freely.

iOS photography features

The iOS 14 has plenty of new features and improvements to the default iPhone camera app, many of which will help with still life photography.

Night mode shots

An existing feature on iOS, Night Mode enables users to take clearer photos even in bad lighting conditions. This should be ideal for those limited to indirect, natural lighting.

Yet, the existing feature could be frustrating for users. Previously, in poor lighting, users would need to hold the iPhone perfectly steady for several seconds, which without a tripod is difficult.

However, the iOS 14 update makes it easier for users to take a steady, still image, due to the built-in gyroscope. This new feature can detect the orientation of the iPhone, providing two cross haired guidance indicators, helping us to capture the perfect, steady shot.

One of these crosshairs is situated in the centre of the screen. The other will move according to how you move your device. The aim is to align the two crosshairs perfectly in the centre during capture, so the image will be aligned and clear.

 

 

Exposure Compensation Value

Exposure in photography refers to the amount of light which reaches the camera, or iPhones sensor. This determines how bright or dark captured images appear. When exposing an image effectively, it is possible to capture images with the intended brightness and detail.

With previous iPhone cameras, it was difficult to get a certain exposure level for an image, whilst focussing on a specific part of an image. As the user tapped the screen to focus on another part of the frame, the exposure would instantly change.

With iOS 14, there is an additional exposure control feature, the ECV (Exposure Compensation Value). This feature allows the user to lock the exposure level when focussing on different parts of the shot. This handy feature can be found in the hidden toolbar.

Save ECV settings

What’s even handier is that users can also save those exposure settings. It can be difficult finding the perfect exposure levels. Previously on iPhones, if the user went off the camera or took too long to take the shot and the camera closed, the exposure level would reset.

However, with the iOS 14, going to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings and changing the Exposure Adjustment, we can save the ECV level for whenever we open up the camera.


Photography and art present engaging ways to challenge and express ourselves. Previously, still life photography was an expensive and exclusive hobby, yet thanks to modern technology, almost anyone can give it a try. With a few helpful tips to get you started and a little imagination, the iOS offers both budding and experienced photographers the chance to make art out of everyday objects in the home.


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