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Smartphone photography 101: Taking flat lays

Keeping it straight and casual for beginners

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If you frequent Pinterest and Instagram, I’m certain you encounter a lot of flat lays. In case you didn’t know, it’s one of the most popular genres of smartphone photography. Despite the popularity and abundance of tutorials, people still struggle with taking flat lays.

As someone who always takes flat lays both for work and personal reasons, I’m going to give a few tips and tricks on how you can maximize your smartphone for your flat lay needs. Take this as a refresher if you’ve forgotten all those flat lay tutorials you’ve studied in the past.

Setting up

Before you start pulling out your smartphones, use them to find inspiration first. Browse and scan excellent flat lays on Instagram, Pinterest, and other inspiration-filled platforms. Soak up all the goodness and the shots you like and let it sink in.

When you’re done, decide on a theme for your shoot. What story do you want to tell? Once you figure this out, you can start assembling your props.

Make sure you follow a color palette,  and pick different shapes and sizes to ensure balance — which is the most important trick in shooting flat lays. Remember, the message is important. Don’t shoot just because you want to shoot.

Shooting

Pick a background and compose your shot

Grab your props and set them up on a table. My ideal time to shoot is always in the morning or late afternoon when the light isn’t harsh. Shooting at noontime will produce strong shadows and contrast, deeply impacting the quality of your flat lays.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Cookies by @ovenfulbyian

If your spot is a little bit dark, never use flash. Just move somewhere with ample lighting. For instance, I set up next to a window. Sometimes, I shoot at the shaded area of my porch.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Cookies by @leezipotato

When you’ve assembled your props, make sure to leave spaces between objects to make your set breathe. And don’t forget to mix up and play around with the props.

Shoot it straight from the right distance.

Cameras use different focal lengths, which is why sometimes taking flat lays using a smartphone or a certain lens can cause a distorted output. It’s difficult to straighten the photo when your primary camera uses a wide lens.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Chocolate crinkles by @ovenfulbyian

Finding the right distance by standing up on a stool, an elevated block, or climbing a ladder is the key to taking proper flat lays. If you think you’re too cool to make an effort by standing up to get the right shot, girl, bye.

Kidding aside, once you find the right distance, you have two options: Shoot at 1x then crop it later or shoot using 3x optical zoom. In my stint with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, I used both 1x and 3x to achieve a straight shot.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (3x Optical Zoom) | Chocolate crinkles by @ovenfulbyian

Although, you need to balance yourself while shooting. Not all smartphone cameras are made equal, some struggle maintaining focus when using optical and digital zoom features.

Consider this before you complain about how you can’t take a proper shot or blame it to your smartphone. You always need to adapt and be smart in the way you handle different situations.

Post-processing

Have fun editing, but don’t go overboard.

Forget those who glorify using and uploading raw photos. Import your photos to an editing app, and make some magic. Turn an ordinary photo into something even more captivating.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto), Cropped and increased exposure via Adobe Lightroom Mobile | Cookies by @ovenfulbyian

Just make sure you don’t edit it too much that it’s borderline unrealistic. You can use existing presets, or you can tweak around the settings to learn more about post-processing. The possibilities are endless.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: Premium phone you can afford


Smartphone Photography 101 series:

Smartphone photography 101: Foreground element

Smartphone photography 101: How to take slice of life photos

Smartphone photography 101: Capturing festivities

Apps

5 best workout apps to try at home

Start creating healthier habits and close your rings!

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Over the past year, taking care of ourselves has become a priority for a lot of us. Eating healthier, getting a good amount of sleep, being mindful, and working out will not just make us less susceptible to diseases now and in the long run, they also help relieve stress and avoid bouts of lethargy in our day to day.

As a beginner, exercise will always seem daunting — or even feel like a chore. This is why fitness apps are now more comprehensive than ever, offering guides for different kinds of physical activities to cater to people’s different needs and lifestyles.

Whether you’re a mom of a toddler who thinks she doesn’t have time for working out, or a workaholic who wants to spice up her rather drab routine, here are some of the best workout apps for iOS that you can try at home to help you start creating healthier habits.

Fitness+

US$ 9.99 per month / US$ 79.99 per year

Apple’s very own Fitness+ doesn’t require a separate app, but you do need an Apple Watch and either an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV to access the workouts within the Fitness app.

You can choose from different sets of workouts: HIIT, core, strength training, yoga, dance, treadmill, rowing, cycling, mindful cooldown. There are also options to sort by trainer, duration, and music.

Apart from its seamless integration with the Apple Watch, the biggest draw of Fitness+ are the high production value, diverse set of trainers, and integration with Apple Music.

With 21 different personalities to choose from, you’re sure find one that you will enjoy working out with. My personal favorites are Bakari for HIIT, Jessica for yoga and mindful cooldown, and Kyle for core and strength workouts.

In each class, the trainer walks you through each move that you are doing. A brief warmup and cooldown are also included in every workout.

Having songs you love play in the background makes a grueling 30-minute HIIT actually exciting. It especially helps that the trainers encourage you to sing or dance to the songs during recovery.

Aaptiv

US$ 14.99 per month / US$ 99.99 per year

Sometimes watching a video of someone doing push ups is not necessary. Aaptiv packs all the motivation you need to work out in audio-only classes tailored to your needs.

The beautifully designed UI helps make working out less daunting. Upon signing up, you are asked what your fitness level is, what kind of workouts you’re interested in, length of classes that you prefer, what equipment you have, and one healthy habit the app can help you build. Choose from foam roll, work on your core, master the plank, do squats, do push-ups.

Based on your answers, you then get a weekly personalized coach plan. There are also guided programs, team challenges, and playlists of great music.

Nike Training Club

Free

If being in a virtual class isn’t your cup of tea, Nike Training Club has a good selection of routines that you can easily follow.

You can search workouts based on your needs. Whether you’re looking to improve endurance, mobility, or strength, routines with dumbbells, or those that target specific muscle group, the app has you covered.

One of my favorite features that’s not available on the other apps mentioned here, is the use of the Apple Watch’s haptics. This allows you to focus on doing each rep, instead of looking at your screen to check the time. Getting your form right — including your neck’s position — is important in maximizing results.

My other favorite feature: The app is free!

Peloton

US$ 12.99 per month

While Peloton is known for its high-end treadmill and indoor bike, its app can be downloaded by anyone. It offers different classes that don’t require any of their equipment.

No matter how busy you are, you won’t run out of options with thousands of live and on-demand workouts to choose from. Like Fitness+, Peloton workouts are accompanied by great music and energetic trainers that make exercising fun. Emma Lovewell and Adrian Williams have made strengthening my core a lot more enjoyable.

The leaderboard on the app shows other users who are simultaneously doing the workout with you. If you join any of the live classes, you might even get a shoutout from the trainer.

The app also lets you filter classes by duration, class type, instructor, or music. On days when you feel like doing cardio with Britney Spears or yoga with Elvis, know that those are options.

With more than three million members, challenges within the Peloton app help motivate you to create healthy and consistent fitness habits with other users. The Annual 2021 challenge, which tracks every active minute on all Peloton platforms, has more than one million participants as of writing.

READ: Peloton tips and tricks: How to make the most out of your workout

Wondercise

US$ 4.99 per month / US$ 35.99 per year

If you want to virtual classes but don’t need a charismatic trainer or great background music, try Wondercise. At more than half the price of a paid subscription, this is the workout app that offers all the basics, whatever your level of fitness is.

Using its live motion matching technology, the app analyzes and maps your movements as you train by using a compatible wearable, including the Apple Watch.

Wondercise identifies how closely your movements match those of the onscreen trainer. The more similar your movements are to the trainer, the higher your score will be.

Finding a class that suits your needs is easy. Recommendations that are served to you are tailored to the fitness level and goals you indicate when signing up. This saves you time from scrolling through all the available workouts.

There is also wide range of exercises that you can try that are not available on other apps. Apart from HIIT, core, and strength training, you also get access to tai chi, MMA, kickboxing, and pilates.

SEE ALSO: 8 mindfulness apps to help you cope in this time of uncertainty

Note: All five apps work seamlessly with the Apple Watch. This means that when you start a workout on your phone it automatically syncs with your Apple Watch and records your heart rate and active calories. Apart from Fitness+, all other apps can be used without an Apple Watch.

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Entertainment

Netflix’s ‘To All The Boys: Always and Forever’ is your Valentine’s Day treat

Lara Jean’s last hurrah?

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The sequel for Netflix’s To All The Boys I Loved Before and To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is almost here. Premiering this Valentine’s Day, Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always and Forever follows Lara Jean Covey’s senior year in high school.

In the upcoming film, a pair of life-changing trips lead Lara Jean to reimagine what life with her family, friends, and Peter will look like after graduation.

Of course, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo will take center stage. Netflix will also be starring Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Sarayu Blue, and John Corbett. The film is directed by Michael Fimognari and produced by Matt Kaplan, with Katie Lovejoy working on the screenplay.

Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always and Forever is based on the novel by Jenny Han. It will be available on Netflix on February 12, 2021. Stay tuned via Netflix.com/ToAllTheBoysAlwaysAndForever.

SEE ALSO: 5 apps to help you plan a cheap Valentine’s Day date | 10 films to Netflix and chill to

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Accessories

Combine and change scents using Ninu’s sustainable, smart perfume

Wear the right scent that matches your every mood

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Of all things that could get smarter, it’s a perfume. Yes, you read that right. At CES 2021, Ninu launched the “first smart perfume in the world,” with a connected device that’s capable of changing scents with every spray.

It’s a unique approach to an everyday item, interesting enough to pique our curiosity. After all, it has an unassuming yet elegant look.

The fusion of beauty and technology

How does it work? This AI-powered perfume uses an app to personalize a scent, fusing ingredients with only a few clicks. It lets you wear the right scent appropriate for every mood and look.

It seamlessly delivers an astonishing perfume through its electronic micro-precision extracting system, guided by its Ninu’s very own assistant — Pierre, the perfume master.

Pierre, just like Siri and Alexa, is an AI assistant that executes whatever wishes you have regarding your scent and helps you have full control over anything you do on the app. The assistant also notifies you when you’re running low on stock.

Feel sexy and earth-friendly

Despite being able to design a premium perfume bottle, assembled with the best of tech, Ninu believes the most important thing is the fragrances themselves. After all, Ninu used 100 percent vegan, sustainably-sourced ingredients — with a wholesome procedure designed in France.

This smart perfume is more than just a smart accessory. It presents itself as a sustainable, essential item that makes you feel fresh and sexy, and also earth-friendly.

Ninu uses natural ink in packaging cartons and uses less packaging to scale down plastic consumption. Instruction leaflets are replaced with a QR code, therefore, fewer papers. Moreover, perfume bottles are made from recycled glass since every 10 percent increase in recycled glass housing cuts down CO2 emissions by five percent.

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