Taking your own pictures at home – from documenting outfits to beautifully lit self-portraits – is the secret tool in many an Instagrammer and blogger’s arsenal, and now we’re at home so much more, this technique is more useful than ever…
Tripods, mirror selfies and white sheet DIY backdrops are the name of the game right now, and it’s great fun to see the creative approaches the Instagram communtity has been taking! And let’s be honest, not everyone has a photographer to work with (or a willing Instagram husband or wife!) and some just prefer to do it themselves – I count myself in this last category! I’ve never been that comfortable with other people taking my photo and this is exactly the reason I first bought myself an Olympus camera, to use its O.I. share app self-timer & remote.
Paid collaboration with Olympus
At that time, I was keen to move on from struggling with the old school approach of setting up your shot from the tripod, inserting a broom or chair surrogate for yourself to focus on, hitting the shutter release time, rushing into spot and hoping for the best… I cannot tell you how many photos I took with my head or a limb inadvertently cropped out!
The Olympus app enables to connect your phone to camera and see yourself on screen, which is key to getting decent shots of yourself!
In this post I am using the Olympus Pen E-PL10 and 45mm f1.8 lens. Btw if you have bought one of these cameras – Pen E-PL8, Pen E-PL10 or OMD EM10 iii – between 1st April – 31st May 2020 you can claim a free 45mm f1.8 lens. Further details at Olympus here.
So let’s get started!
For my above self portrait, I chose to sit by the window for some good natural daylight and use the 45mm f1.8 portrait lens, as this can create some really beautiful images with sharp detail. I’ve set the tripod up (this is an old lightweight one of mine, similar to this travel tripod) with my camera and connected my phone to the O.I. Share app. NB. You do need to be further away with the 45mm because if its focal length, but this can be done quite comfortably in a room if you are just seeking to capture the face.
Catching the light in the eyes is key to a strong self portrait! If you’re short on a tripod (I needed a second one to shoot these behind-the-scenes pictures, there’s nothing wrong with a stool and pile of books, as long as you’re careful!
And don’t forget this simple rule: for a blurry background, the camera needs to be closer to the subject than the subject is to the background and make sure your aperture is wide (ideally f1.8, which you can get on the 45mm f1.8 lens and 17mm 1.8 lens) or set the camera to Portrait Mode in the SCN mode – remember, all experimentation is good!
How To Connect Your Phone to Wifi
Hit Wifi on the camera screen (top left), go to your phone’s Wifi settings, search for a network, choose the camera when it comes up and put in the password from the back of the camera screen to connect or you can scan the QR code and follow the instructions from there. After the first setup, your phone will remember the password.
Once you can see yourself on your phone screen (select Remote Control in the app) check your settings – I usually choose A mode, set the F-stop to f/1.8 and exposure around 0.0. (For more info on the Pen settings I use check out this article here).
Move the reflector around until you get a nice glowy effect on your skin… check this on your phone screen!
When you are happy with the composition and how things are looking, set the self timer. You can do a simple six second countdown (I usually do around six seconds as this gives me time to pop my phone out of sight) or you can set up Interval Shooting to trigger a series of ten photos in a row with 2 seconds between each shot. This is a great way to get a good shot in my experience!
Six second delay: Go to Remote Control in the O.I. Share app, tap the plain rectangle bottom right and tap the timer icon (between OFF and multiple photos icons) and set the slider to the time you want (I find six seconds is about the right amount of time to put phone out of sight and reposition myself!).
Interval timer & multiple shots: To do this in the O.I. Share app, go into Remote Control, tap the plain rectangle bottom right, then tap the multiple shots icon to the right, and then the cog Settings icon that comes up just below the slider – now, under Interval Shooting, set Number of Times to 10 and Interval Time to 2 (or to your preference!).
NB. One useful tip is to use a light reflector to bounce extra light on your face – I didn’t have a professional one to hand, so I made do with a piece of white cardboard! But you can get something more effective but inexpensive, like this one.
No mirror? No problem!
And another tip! If you are lacking a nice big mirror with which to photograph your outfit, by facing the camera with your phone held in front of you (and this way you can see the shot too!) you can mimic the effect.
And as well as self-portraits, using the remote control is really useful for still lifes where you’re not in the picture as having the camera fixed frees your hands to arrange your subject (pet, child, vase etc!)… use #PenAtHome to share your images with @olympusuk and @olympuscreators