Lifestyle

How to take better food photos with your phone

5 tips from food stylists and photographers

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Taking photos is more than just about getting likes on Instagram or filling up your feed with a certain aesthetic; it’s about telling a story in a visual way. It may be inanimate, but there are many ways you can capture and show happy memories from foodstagrams.

A slice of cake can transport you back in time when your friends surprised you on your 22nd birthday, the same way your family’s Chinese New Year spread can remind you of the time everyone gathered around during the festivities.

Here are five easy tips from professional food stylists and photographers Diona Lee and Sean Ashley on how you can take better food photos using an iPhone.

1. Create a narrative

Shot on an iPhone XS

Good photos are able communicate beyond what’s obvious and the same applies to food. A photo of char siew can be just that — a sumptuous plate of pork — but it can be so much more. If styled and captured with intent, it can convey a festive celebration, an emotional homecoming, or even a set of parents’ labor of love.

2. Add a human element

Shot on an iPhone XS

One way to help create a narrative is by adding a human element or two. A hand with chopsticks reaching out for a piece of roast duck can make a world of difference. Human elements add emotions and warmth to photos and make them feel more real.

3. Inject color

There’s a reason chefs garnish their food after plating. Dishes in a food spread sometimes tend to look alike, so adding props or even adding different colored food to the table can help break the monotony and bring your photo to life. Just make sure to not overdo props; styling is done best within the context of a narrative.

4. Angle your food

Here’s a quick one most of us don’t normally do: You can use napkins to prop up your food and add depth to your photo. This especially works for round items like fruits.

5. Find soft lighting

Shot on an iPhone XS with Portrait Mode

Food is always best captured with natural light, but if that’s not available, your next best option is to find soft lighting and take the photo away from harsh kitchen lights. Most people’s tendency is to put the food right under harsh light fixtures, but if you haven’t noticed by now, that actually adds unnecessary shadows to your photo and some areas may simply end up overexposed.

Need more inspiration? Watch our food photography tips made specifically for iPhones here.

WATCH: 5 iPhone Food Photography Tips

Apps

Ultrahuman: The essential app to get you through quarantine

Getting through isolation days through workout and meditation

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Taking care of our physical and mental health is very much important now more than ever. With everything that has been going on in the world, it’s not surprising that people are taking extra steps to advocate and practice self-care.

One way to do this is by adding good habits everyday and being disciplined to sustain these habits.

With self-care as one of their ultimate goals this year, Martynne and MJ decided to try Ultrahuman: an all-in-one fitness app that includes all the good habits they are currently incorporating in their lives — from workout to meditation.

For a few weeks, they put the app to a test and this is their verdict:

Meditation

Martynne: I am a huge advocate of meditation and it has been a life-changing practice for me, as someone who finds a hard time focusing and being in the present.

Ultrahuman has a wide range of course options that can match a specific mood or emotion. One of my personal favorites is the Managing Anger course, which helped me take a step back, consolidate my feelings and give compassion to myself throughout the process.

The Singles option with one-time meditation tracks helped me become more mindful and grounded whenever I feel overwhelmed in the middle of a workday. The productivity course, on the other hand, kept my eyes glued to my laptop screen until I finished what I needed to do.

The only thing I didn’t like about it, though, is the visuals seem basic to me, and the “dark” interface is much more fitting for the workout option.

Workout

MJ: When gyms are closed and home workouts aren’t fun anymore, how do you remain committed to your fitness goals? That’s what Ultrahuman did: Filling the gap by providing fun workouts and challenges that you can do in a span of weeks. It’s similar to how Nike Training Club presents their videos albeit more personalized.

The Ultrahuman app comes with guided videos from renowned trainers, and watching their instructions during your exercises felt like having a live session with a personal trainer. Unlike most fitness apps that offer video-on-demand workouts, Ultrahuman remembers that we are all beginners, offering a collection of videos through challenges that suit different levels.

After living a sedentary lifestyle, I knew I have to ease up when working out again. The app did wonders in helping me stay active by gradually increasing the difficulty of my challenges, without straining my body or having myself complain about how difficult a certain workout routine is.

Sleep

Martynne: There was an instance that I had a bad case of insomnia and I needed something to put me to sleep.

I tried listening to Ultrahuman’s Bedtime Stories and it reminded me of the sleep podcasts I used to listen to on Spotify.

The voices are relaxing, and the stories come with meditation and sound effects, but I realized I can be impatient with slow stories. I resorted to the app’s soundscapes and brain music, and they helped a lot to relax my brain and finally shut my eyes off.

I don’t exactly know what’s the science behind brain music, but they really work sometimes.

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Cameras

The Polaroid Go is the smallest analog instant camera in the world

With this camera, the sky’s the limit and not the size

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Polaroid Go

Polaroid has a new, cute camera and we want it. There, I said it.

Polaroid Go is the newest, tiniest member of the Polaroid family. Dubbed as the smallest analog instant camera in the world, it only measures 4.1-inches long, 3.3-inches wide, and 2.4-inches tall. What an exciting change to Polaroid’s decade-old form factor, right?

Polaroid Go

Designed as a creative companion, the Polaroid Go sports a portable, wearable look and feel. The newest camera is available in a classic white colorway, following Polaroid’s iconic design retained in a new format apt for the new generation.

The Polaroid Go, despite its tiny size, packs mighty features. This includes a newly-developed selfie mirror, self-timer, longer-lasting battery, dynamic flash, double exposure, and travel-friendly accessories.

There’s also a Go film that reimagines Polaroid’s classic square format, to suit the newest and smallest analog instant camera.

Polaroid Go

Price and availability

Polaroid Go retails for US$ 100 while the Polaroid Go Film Double Pack costs US$ 20. The Polaroid Go will be available for purchase on April 27 at polaroid.com/go.

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Enterprise

Microsoft acquires speech recognition firm Nuance for $20 billion

The second most expensive acquisition by Microsoft

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Nuance
Photo by Reuters

Microsoft has acquired speech recognition and healthcare firm Nuance for a whopping US$ 19.7 billion. The deal will give the Redmond-based giant deeper access to hospitals and the healthcare industry, in general, via its medical dictation and transcription tools.

The announcement is a clear indication that Microsoft is looking for new verticals to improve growth. Recently, the company was interested in buying Discord, a gaming-centric instant messaging service, for a massive sum of US$ 10 billion.

Nuance has been a pioneer in voice-based artificial intelligence and was pivotal in powering Apple’s Siri. Since then, it has shifted to healthcare and, specifically, a transcribing tool that writes up the conversations between physicians and patients.

As part of this deal, Microsoft will pay US$ 56 per share for Nuance, a 23 percent premium over the company’s last closing price. Microsoft can use Nuance’s technology with its existing software like Teams or even offer it independently as part of its Azure cloud business. Simultaneously, it can gradually increase the presence of Azure and other connected products within a physician’s clinic.

For the longest time, Microsoft was dependent on the consumer business and relied mostly on Office and Windows for revenue. This has radically changed in the last few years with increased investment in AI, machine learning, and cloud computing.

Microsoft said Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin would remain at the company and report to Scott Guthrie, who is in charge of its cloud and artificial intelligence businesses.

The Nuance acquisition is the second most expensive in Microsoft’s history. The first being LinkedIn’s deal, valued at US$ 26 billion.

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