This blog post will give you a great tip on how to best capture action shots of your kids on your iPhone. If you don’t know what “burst mode” is and how to find it on your phone when using the camera, you’ll really benefit from this read.
(This tip is ALSO super handy for capturing perfect group photos with no one blinking.)
In the very first Camera Learning Session from my Mother’s Day Giveaway (12 learning sessions were gifted to 12 moms!), I met with a mom, M, whom I’ve gotten to know over the years having photographed her sweet girl since she was a baby. Like many of the moms I have the pleasure to work with, M is a very smart woman and also pretty busy between a full time job and being a parent and wife.
Her camera question was simply how she could get better photos with her iPhone. Sure, you can google this and find lots of articles, but as with many things, it’s really helpful if someone can just specifically show you something in real time, especially the how, why, and when of it: how to use the function, why to use it, and when to use it.
For example, what is burst mode, and when do you want to use it? Burst mode is not readily visible on your phone’s interface when you’re in the camera app. It’s what happens when you hold down the shutter button (or either of the volume buttons) without letting your finger off right away. This is what is also known as “continuous shooting.”
Burst mode takes 10 frames per second and will keep taking successive images as you keep holding your finger down. Hold your finger down for 5 seconds, and you’ll have 50 shots; hold it down 20 seconds and have 200 shots (but I’d try to not take that many shots in a row if you can get what you need within a few seconds).
This is PERFECT for action shots when your child might be running toward you with the biggest, happiest smile on her face. You might miss a great shot if you just try taking a few of them one at a time. With Burst mode you can go to the photos app (where you can see the “camera roll” and your different albums) after you’ve taken a few seconds of images and select the one(s) that are the best. The ones you don’t choose to keep are deleted.
(If you delete an image by mistake, you can go find the Recently Deleted album in your photos app to recover it.)
After we did just this scenario, but with M’s little girl in a hammock swing, we picked 3-4 of the images from a burst of about 30. From there, we took one of those great images and made it even better by using the Rule of Thirds to crop in on it in the in-camera editing software as well as brightening it and putting a filter on it that really made it pop. Here are the results:
Here is a photo of my niece Sadie on my iPhone X running through her backyard to try to get her older cousin Ollie in a game of dodge ball. I especially love this photo because she has become self-conscious of her smile now that she has gotten her utterly adorable adult teeth. In this image she has a very mischievous smile and is not thinking about the camera at all. I don’t love all those extra elements in the background (ideally, I’d have gotten closer to her to begin with), and although I can’t eliminate them completely (unless I want to do a lot of work in Photoshop), I can make them less noticeable by making Sadie larger in the final image.
I show in these photos how I tapped on Edit (which is at the bottom of screens in some older phones or phones running older iOS) and then cropped in on her to have a more impactful image. I tapped on the icon to the far right to select an aspect ratio of 2:3 (so I can print a 4×6). I also used the same filter under Edit that we used above on the little girl in her swing. That tight crop works pretty well for a web image, but it probably won’t print too well for anything greater than a 4×6, or maaaaybe a 5×7 size.
Note: the more you crop in on an image, the more the image quality will degrade. You can get away with cropping in so much when you don’t print it very large, or if you have a camera with a really big sensor.
I hope you will get snappier snapshots now that you know about burst mode. You can even use this handy function for something like a GROUP SHOT when you’re trying to get a good image with no one blinking. Just take a couple seconds worth of images with everyone standing looking at you and there should be at least one shot with everyone’s eyes open.
Here are a couple sites that give even more description and sample photos of burst mode:
Note that you can’t use burst mode when you’re in Portrait mode on iPhones 7plus, 8plus and X. I think you used to not be able to use burst mode in HDR, but I believe now you can. If you’re finding that it’s not working for you, just turn off HDR and give burst mode a try again.
On iPhones 8, 8plus and X, it has auto-HDR in the phone settings that you have to change first if you want to be able to control turning the HDR on or off yourself from within the camera app. I’m leaving mine on auto for the time being to see if the camera is smart enough to make that decision on its own. Perhaps the camera is automatically turning off HDR when one holds the shutter button down because it knows that you want to shoot a burst.
Remember to delete off the ones you don’t want so your camera’s memory doesn’t fill up quickly over time, and remember to back up your phone regularly to your cloud/computer.
Coming up next week: choosing a great lens for your DSLR.
And don’t forget I’m here for your professional portrait needs. jookie is a children’s, family, baby and pet photography studio located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, created in 2006 by me, Jill Liebhaber, veteran Chicago kids and family photographer of 17 years, focused on creating custom art work for homes.
As a professional photography studio in Chicago, jookie serves all nearby neighborhoods such as Lakeview, Bucktown, Ravenswood, Andersonville, Edgewater, Roscoe Village, North Center, Lincoln Park, West Loop, River North, Old Town, Gold Coast, and Downtown. I also have families who come to me for baby, kid, dog, and family photos from the suburbs like LaGrange, Hinsdale, Western Springs, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Elmhurst, Oak Park, Kildeer, and also out of state like Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowas, New Hampshire, New York, and California.
I am often asked by jookie parents to create head shots or professional portraits. If I have time to fit it into my schedule, I will!
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