A Flatley is a bunch of things lying on a table or other flat surface taken from above at a 90-degree angle. In this post, we discuss how to shoot Flatley on a smartphone and more advanced technology, as well as how to create attractive and intriguing photos.
At one point, all social networks were flooded with Flatley. It was something like mainstream and there were even bloggers who focused solely on shooting such statics. They created courses on how to make the perfect Flatley photography. And one day everyone grew weary of Flatley, as typically occurs with phenomena that unexpectedly become extremely popular.
There were far too many of them, and if Flatley’s initially piqued the viewer’s curiosity as something out of the ordinary, they began to be seen as mundane within a few years. Like a picture of a happy, smiling family from a mayo commercial.
But if we move away from Flatley’s history as a trend and come back to Flatley as a viewpoint, it is still intriguing and useful. Because:
You’ll need just one background. Unlike when creating a traditional “standing” still life. Here you should consider both the background that the objects are on and the background that is visible in the frame behind them.
Simple to apply (you can shoot even on a smartphone).
It offers variety when photographing several different subjects. Of course, unless you turn your profile into a “Flatley cemetery.”
Tripod: yes or no for the best Flatley?
You can snap the Flatley’s without a tripod by simply holding the camera or phone over the still life. This approach, nevertheless, is best suited for seasoned photographers who can quickly create a composition in their head and snap it at a time.
Working with a tripod is more convenient if it makes it easier for you to arrange the major components first, and then adjust the overall composition by moving and adjusting the minor details. Because it is nearly hard to precisely reproduce the camera location and inclination angle from frame to frame.
Using a tripod to take images from this angle is considerably more practical. You can then utilize slower shutter speeds and make as many adjustments to the frame’s composition as needed.
Not every tripod will work. You need a model that allows the bar to be lifted out and rotated 90 or 180 degrees. It is typically found in more expensive and sophisticated models, such as the Manfrotto MKBFRA4GTXP-BH Befree GT XPRO.
There are more affordable solutions available. Vanguard Vesta TB204AB is an example. There, the bar may be turned upside down, enabling you to shoot with a 90-degree angle as well.
The tripod can be swapped out for something even more cost-effective, such as a clamp. This choice is good if, for instance, you are shooting over the kitchen table and there is a shelf hanging above it. The smartphone or camera is placed on the clamp, which is then secured to the shelf. You can save a lot of money by using this method.
Ensure that the clamp can handle the weight of your equipment. Otherwise, you risk dropping the camera and breaking it. It’s a nice alternative if you’re filming with your phone.
Remote access to the camera
Remote control of the camera using Wi-Fi is another tip that will make it more convenient for you to work on a Flatley. This feature is present in many DSLRs and most modern mirrorless cameras. You need a smartphone and a certain app to shoot over Wi-Fi. Every camera system has a unique one:
For Canon, there is Canon Camera Connect
Nikon offers SnapBridge
Fujifilm offers Camera Remote
Olympus has OLYMPUS Image Share
For Sony, there is Imaging Edge Mobile
Panasonic offers LUMIX Sync.
If the camera on a tripod is high and it is difficult to reach it every time, this method enables you to continuously observe the frame.
Ideal settings for Flatley shooting
The camera settings for photographing Flatley’s are much the same as those for any still life. Let’s briefly go over them:
ISO – 200 or 400 (minimum, depending on the camera).
Make sure the items are sharp and set the aperture to values between 4 and 8 to eliminate noise. Opening the aperture when shooting a layout is pointless because you don’t need to blur the background.
You can choose any shutter speed. Or you can choose to let the camera choose it for you. If you are using a tripod, a slow shutter speed won’t affect you; if you are shooting from a hand, use a shutter speed that will allow you to avoid blurring the image.
The focal length is a further crucial consideration. Avoid taking Flatley photos at a wide angle. It will cause distortion in the verticals of items that are somewhat taller, which is not very attractive.
If you shoot with a camera, do not take wide-angle lenses, and set the focal length of the zoom lens around 50 mm. If shooting with a smartphone, use 2x zoom.
Principles of composition and ideas for Flatleys
The Biggest Mistake in Flatley Still Life Photography
When shooting Flatley, the worst error you can make is a little off-center angle. L likewise a tiny bit. It’s acceptable to take a still-life photograph at a 45-degree angle from the side or the top. However, if you attempted to photograph a purebred flatly, but slightly miscalculated camera (it came out at 80 degrees), this is a mistake, and it will be apparent.
Of course, someone can argue that that’s the tendency for the natural effect and it is kind of acceptable. Sad to say, a shallow, underturned angle creates the impression of visual dirt rather than minor carelessness or naturalness. As if you were taking a picture of a pretty girl and she was holding a plastic bag from the nearby grocery store.
Additionally, a crooked angle will give the impression that “something is off” and the image is “kind of bad quality.” And it will be challenging to pinpoint why exactly this emotion occurs.
Choosing a background for Flatley photography
Keep the background to a minimum because it directly affects the composition of the image. The more it is textured, the more it participates in the whole image. The simpler it is, the more room for movement it provides.
At-home backdrop alternatives include white linens, wood tables, neutral-colored floors, and marble worktops. It’s also a good idea to get a colored or kraft paper from an office supply store. There are also specific backdrops for certain shootings. Go online shopping for them – you will be surprised by how much it offers.
If there are bright objects or expressive shadows in the frame, a simple sheet of white paper can also be used as a background. The less expressive objects and background, the more textured background you should take.
Aesthetics, the rule of thirds, and object proportion
Any layout starts with the central element, the point at which everything is built. There could be one or more of these things. If they are not in the picture, the result will be chaos rather than a lovely composition. Therefore, we start by selecting the primary subject or subjects.
The main subject is then placed at the appropriate location. The rule of thirds is one of the essential guidelines for creating a layout. The idea is that significant things should be placed at the intersection of the lines that split the frame into thirds both vertically and horizontally. This works because these points are what the observer is paying attention to.
Then, include the supplementary props. It is important to select items that match the narrative and provide background for the focal point without drawing attention away from it. This can include a roll of film, a pair of glasses, a watch in a still life with a camera as the main subject, and spoons, spices, and towels in a still life with food. Small objects are strategically placed so that the frame appears balanced and not overwhelmed. For Flatley, there are several fundamental classic layouts.
A common composition, for instance, is shaped like the letter C (the objects are arranged in a semicircle, in the center of which an inscription or logo can be placed in perspective).
There is also composed in the shape of the letter S, in which objects are arranged in this way.
It is also important to monitor the proportion of objects in the frame: putting a large bag and tiny earrings in one frame is not a good idea. In such a frame, earrings will just fall out.
Ideas for making attractive frames
Patterns and rhythm. There is a major subject and several secondary subjects, which is the foundation of the traditional Flatley. However, it is safe to break from this rule to create images that contain numerous identical items.
Fullness and simplicity in the frame. The image can be either densely packed with items or almost empty. In theory, there is a right to life even in composition with just one element against a simple background. Everything depends on your vision and objective. There is loads of room for experimenting here.
Saturated and neon colors. Bright colors are the trend of the last few seasons. It also seeped into subject photography.
The play of light and shadows. Shadows add volume to Flatleys, and if you use glass objects and side lights in the frame, you can achieve an even more interesting effect.