Here are a few valuable lessons I learned about iPhone and phone food photography while only being able to use my iPhone camera for 2 months.
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It happened.... the thing I'd guessed would NEVER happen.... I broke my camera. l was sure this would NEVER happen because I almost exclusively use my favorite dSLR camera at home to shoot food. I don't take it traveling too often, and I definitely avoid high risk situations. Even more, my camera has fallen with tripod straight to the hard tile ground in my house. No problems. But one time, all out of the blue, I found an ugly crack near the flash of my camera.
So, for the past 10 weeks, I've been learning my $400 lesson and getting the excuse to improve my photography skills without the tools and capabilities of my fancy camera. No tethered capture, no aperture control, just my trusty iPhone.
Did it pass the test? or did I?
In retrospect, my photos actually turned out worse than I'd anticipated. With my current set-up and lighting situation, the camera apps on my phone just don't cut it.
Out of all honesty, a bit of the difference between my photos was because I was lazy, but it's really not as easy to take a naturally lit and beautiful photo with a phone as it is a dSLR camera. In no way am I saying you CANNOT take beautiful photos with a phone, but after 2 months of no dSLR camera, I realized just how much harder it is to take a beautiful photo with my camera. Even with the same 2 eyes and simple style approach.
Here's what I learned.
- Overhead shots are bae. Since you can't adjust depth of field with most phone cameras, the simple overhead shot looks best. No distracting background objects when you're shooting from above.
- You've got to set your shot up really well. As I've gotten more comfortable behind the lens, I've really been focusing on limiting editing photos after shooting them, because, really editing apps don't hold a candle to the magic of Adobe Lightroom. My photos aren't as ethereal as they are when shot with my Nikon and edited in Lightroom. It seems to do a much better job maintaining the integrity and natural-ness of my photos, far better than I can on editing apps on my phone. Man I've been spoiled.
- Lighting lighting lighting. Use and create great light. Again, smartphone camera apps don't have as much control as any dSLR so compensate for that with diffusers, bounce boards, and a good window. Or invest in artificial lighting... But I hear new phones take great photos in low light, whose tried this???
- Portrait mode is really the only way to adjust aperture. It does pretty well, but has no option to adjust the depth of field, or just how blurry the background ends up. I havent found an app that creates any sort of realistic depth of field. Hence the focus on OVERHEAD shots
- You have to adjust white balance way more than when using a dSLR's auto WB settings. (and it's harder on your phone). White backgrounds are hard to get white balance right on, so if you have darker backgrounds, I recommend using those (here's how I made mine). Here's an example of a photo that I just couldn't get natural enough coloring on vs one I shot with my dSLR & could control the lighting better.
- BONUS tip: get a tripod. the only thing worse than bad lighting is a blurry subject.
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let's get chatty:
- do you shoot with your camera & your phone? what differences have you noticed?
- what questions do you have about transitioning to a dSLR camera?