The Challenge #6: Beauty in the Mundane…with a camera phone

This is how every morning starts out: a dishwasher to be emptied, a litter tray to sort out, and an angry, hungry cat. I used the fish-eye lens because it basically best represents my view of the world before I’ve had a cup of tea.

Ok, ok I went a bit over-the-top with the title.

To see what I was really trying to say, check out my Facebook Live video here. (Please excuse the fumbling at the end where I try to end the video with my shiny new selfie stick and fail miserably!!)

This challenge was in two parts…

Part 1:  Find inspiration in an everyday situation. Basically, the challenge of taking  a step back and finding something interesting to photograph while having a normal day at home with my family.

No matter how dull you think your current environment is, there’s always something to photograph.

Part 2: Only use my iPhone 6…!

Having loads of expensive kit doesn’t make a photographer. You can take great photos with any camera! 

The trick is to know the limits of your camera, and when you know you can’t capture the shot you want to, look at the scene in a different way and get creative.

Well, these were my reasoning and hypotheses, anyway.

Techie Details:
Camera: iPhone 6 
Lenses: Built-in lenses x2, MPow Clip-on lenses (fish-eye and macro – I didn’t use the wide-angle).  (Link here – it’s not affiliated, just for info) 

I’ve post-processed the images in the same way that I would have done if I’d been using my pro camera.

How did it go?

I took photos at various points throughout the day…more than I usually do as I was a bit nervous about how the photos were going to turn out, and I was really trying to see my environment in a different way so was experimenting with different angles and lighting.

I knew that portrait-type shots were probably out, as trying to get catch-light in the eyes is very difficult, and camera-phone photos tend to be a bit flat-looking, which isn’t great for portraiture.

The closest I got to a portrait-style photo. Little Whirlwind sat still long enough for a quick pic. I was scrunched up on the floor to get the angle, but love the light illuminating the side of his face and torso. This photo immediately feels special to me because I can see both the baby he was in the slight chubbiness around his face, and the man he’ll become in the strong stance and determined look.

What I wasn’t expecting was to find it hard to reduce the images down to the few I’m sharing with you here. And one thing became very apparent – I immediately fell in love with the macro lens.

This is what happened… we headed out to the garden to take some food waste to the composter and to pick some blueberries and raspberries.

One of LW’s favourite jobs is to empty food waste into our beehive-shaped composter…oh, and check for creepy crawlies.

While we were in the garden, I decided to check out the iPhone macro lens. My first target was the raspberry bush.

A ripe raspberry in the garden – and an unexpectedly clear shot with the clip-on macro lens! Who knew raspberries were quite this hairy?!

The usual deal whenever we venture into the garden is that LW wants to (a) dig and (b) bug hunt. Impressed with the raspberry shot, I decided to try for some creepy crawly macro shots too. Now, I can’t actually pick my favourite here, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top three!

An iridescent fly. This was a bit tricky as the wind was blowing the leaf a bit, but I took firm hold of the branch, and took this shot. I love the clarity of the fly’s back, the shine of it, and the epic depth of field!
I was genuinely stunned that you can see the hairs on the adult woodlouse’s leg in the photo. And to see the markings of the juvenile is amazing!
This snail was on the back of a stone we turned over, and we waited and watched as it extended out it’s eyes!

The nicest thing about taking these bug shots was stopping and actually looking at them – like a toddler, in fact. Just stopping. And looking.

One thing I ought to point out here was that I took A LOT of photos of each of these bugs. Many of them were blurred, and it took a steady hand (and waiting for the wind to drop) to capture these pictures. I checked as best I could on my phone that the images were in focus, but it was quite tricky.

Obviously, once LW had got bored of me photographing bugs, he decided to dig the garden. In his slippers.  🙄

“Please put you boots on before going in the garden.” Yeah. Right. (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)

Once we’d scraped the mud of LW, it was time to start preparing lunch. There’s no control over shutter speed or aperture, so I couldn’t do anything fancy with the flow of water from the tap, but I do still like the effect in this photo.

Yes, I am the sort of mother who feeds her family spinach. But it’s not what you think… scroll down! (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)

Next LW and I set about trying to pack – we’re going to visit his Granny for a few days, so I asked him to collect together a few small, light toys to take with us…

LW demonstrates he has inherited his mother’s OCD. (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)

Now, I know I mentioned in the Facebook Live video that I was going to do this “around home”, but this was a typical, quiet-ish day, and on days like this we head to our local park which is just down the road. Which means the following photos definitely aren’t cheating.

I don’t usually like to put out-doorsy shots with lots of greenery into black and white, but in this case, the way the light was shining on Long Suffering Husband and Little Whirlwind, it worked surprisingly well. (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)
LW is currently learning to monkey bar. He’s not quite got it yet, but is very good at dangling. I love the lines in this photo. (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)
I have literally HUNDREDS of photos of LW bombing down the fireman’s pole, so it was a bit of a challenge to find a different way to photograph it. This was taken with the (“not so great”) camera on the front of the iPhone, but it works well because it’s high contrast with not much colour or detail. This is as-shot – I haven’t put it in black and white.
I took the macro lens with me to the park, and was staggered to get this shot of the head and antenna of a butterfly. The lens was practically resting on its back, and although the shot isn’t perfect, I am so stunned I managed to get it, that it has to be included here!!

And after all the fun and games, it was time to put that spinach to good use…

The inside of the top-oven of our AGA, complete with cheesy muffins. I tried this shot with flash too, but was so appalled by the state of the oven, that the image is staying hidden! (Taken with built-in iPhone lens)
A bit of dinner. (Taken with built-in iPhone lens, which is surprising as it feels quite macro-like)

Incidentally, the recipe for the muffins can be found here 😊.  They’re fabulous, and very easy for little ones to help cook, too. 

And finally… there’s always time for a bit of telly. (Taken with built-in lens)

In summary, I’m really glad that I did this challenge. It definitely forced me to take a step back from the everyday mundanity and look at things from a different perspective. Having the extra lenses helped, but I tried not to get too caught up with them. The majority of photos I took today were just with the standard built-in lenses, but it was definitely fun to do a bit of macro!

A side-effect of this challenge was that I found I didn’t get as generally exasperated as usual, although I was equally probably more distracted. (When LW started trying to kick the phone out on my hand on the swing, I figured it was probably time to stop for a while).

The nicest thing about this set of photos is that they do actually capture our day. Just a normal, everyday sort of day. Not going out to a festival or event. Not doing something “special”, as such. Just doing normal stuff. Which actually makes them some of the most precious photos I’ve taken with my family.

I’m actually very pleased with the results of this challenge. Although I use my camera-phone All. The. Time. I don’t often stop and think, and take my time over getting a good photo. It was fun to do and it’s left me feeling quite inspired!!

Would you like me to help you capture your normal-kinda-day? Get in touch to have a chat (and I promise I won’t use my iPhone camera 😉 ). 

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