I Have One Or Two Important Life Skills. This Is Not One Of Them.

June 17, 2011

I’m often asked how I get the action captures in the photos that I upload to Instagram and that I post here, because everyone assumes that if you’re not a professional photographer using a fancy camera, you must have a secret to getting great photos. Well, I’m not a professional photographer, and although I do have a fancy camera, it’s not the one that I’m using to get those shots – those are all iPhone shots, people – so it’s totally fair to ask if I have a secret. I do have a secret. And it’s a ridiculously simple one.

I use this secret method to get every kind of action shot, from killer whales leaping through the sky at SeaWorld (do not even get me started on how awesome is SeaWorld. Actually, do get me started; I’ll be posting at length about SeaWorld just as soon as I get hold of the pictures of ME RIDING A DOLPHIN)…

… to small children leaping into swimming pools…

… to little boys running to school in the manner of little androgynous Vogue models…

… to little girls jumping off church steps…

… to tigers licking their dinner (also at SeaWorld. Well, Busch Gardens, which is the part of SeaWorld that has nothing to do with the sea)…


(And if you don’t count tiger-licking as great motion capture, you have never been close to a giant Bengal tiger slurping his dinner. That tongue is as big as your head and it MOVES.)

So what do you do to capture kid-jumping, whale-leaping, tiger-licking in action with your iPhone? I WILL TELL YOU.

You just do this: you keep your finger down on the shutter release button, and ONLY lift it off to capture the shot. That is, instead of pressing down on that little virtual button on your iPhone’s camera, keep your finger on it while you’re waiting for your moment and then lift OFF. That’s all. Instead of keeping your finger hovering over the button and pressing down when you want to get the shot, you keep your finger ON and then lift it OFF for the capture. That’s all. Honest. I am not capable of performing technical actions any more complicated than that.

Make sure that you copy me on any action images that you post to Instagram using this method, so that I can virtually high-five you and we can congratulate each other on our mastery of the art of moving our fingers.

(If you’re going to go out, like, immediately to try this out for yourself, consider submitting the resulting shot to Intel’s “Visual Life” contest for a chance to win a new Second Generation Core i5 laptop.)

(And if for some reason the FINGER ON / FINGER OFF method of motion capture is too complicated for you, feel free to curse me out. Just make sure that you follow these principles if you do.)
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