Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tips for capturing the moment

How many times have you missed that perfect moment fumbling for your iPhone and trying to quickly snap a photo only to end up with a blurry picture that was taken too late anyway? Fortunately there are some common sense preparations that can help you to capture those fleeting moments.

Fast camera start-up is key, but it isn't what you might think

To some this means having a camera app that starts up quickly and is immediately ready to take a photo. That's certainly part of the equation, but there is a lot more to it.

Leave the camera app running when the phone is locked

No matter what camera app you use, the time to go from turning the phone on to snapping a photo can be greatly minimized by locking the iPhone while the camera is running. When you do this, as soon as the phone comes on you are ready to snap a photo. This is one of my favorite techniques for being ready to capture those picture perfect moments.

Turn off the security code

If you have to enter your security code every time you power your phone on, not only is that going to disturb the moment while people try to figure out what you are doing, it takes valuable time that can make the difference between capturing or not capturing the moment. If you must have a security code enabled, consider disabling when you suspect photo opportunities may arise (Settings/General/Passcode Lock).

Disable features like anti-shake that might delay the capture

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for an anti-shake feature to give you the go ahead as a moment slips by. My advice is to disable it by default. There are certainly times where it is useful, but when you are trying to capture a fleeting moment, I find it just gets in the way. Instead of relying on anti-shake to minimize blur, take several quick photos. It is the most reliable technique I've found to minimize blur with the iPhone cameras.

Don't use zoom

If the iPhone had an optical zoom, I wouldn't be saying this. Unfortunately, it only has a digital zoom which does nothing more than throw away pixels and take valuable time to setup. It is a convenience function that allows you to crop your image while taking the picture. Sometimes that can be nice, but when you are in a hurry it does nothing but slow you down. You can achieve the exact same effect by using apps like Crop For Free or Photoshop after the moment has passed. Not only that, but you'll be able to take your time to make sure you get the framing of the image exactly how you'd like it. And perhaps that one photo really has several nice photos that can be cropped out. None of that would be possible if you ask your camera app to throw pixels away right away by using the zoom feature.

Take lots of photos and don't worry about getting some blurry ones

If you quickly snap just one photo with your iPhone, unfortunately there's a high probability it is going to be blurry. One of the best ways to eliminate blurry photos on the iPhone is to take several as I discussed in a previous blog entry ( I've found that taking 3 or 4 quick photos almost always can eliminate blurry shots. And even those blurry shots can be turned into something interesting with the cool post-processing apps out there like Percolator and Toon Paint.

Use an app with fast shot to shot times

If you are using a camera app that takes a lot of time to save or process photos before you can take another one, the chances of getting a nice photo of fleeting moment is greatly reduced. Fortunately many of the apps available now allow fast shot to shot times. Just make sure that your app of choice does as well.

Don't waste time framing the perfect shot

Getting close is usually good enough and post-process cropping can work wonders on the framing of your shot. Often, some of the better shots I get are a result of just pulling out my phone and shooting without even looking at what is framed in the viewfinder.

Don't make it obvious you are shooting a picture

If you're too obvious about the fact that you are taking a picture, the moment is likely to be disrupted. It may be in just a small way, but sometimes that can make the difference. Again, sometimes shooting without knowing what's in the viewfinder is okay. Shoot from the hip and see what you get!

Keep your phone handy!

Finally, a very obvious tip, but how many times have you seen someone fumbling through their bag trying to get their camera out to capture a precious moment? My advice is to reserve a front pocket just for your iPhone and be ready to pull it out at any time.

These techniques have made a big difference for me. I hope they do for you as well!

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