How to Capture Clear Photos of Moving Kids and Animals on Your iPhone

I was asked by a student in my iPhone Photography Secrets class this week about capturing photos of their 7 year-old daughter.

Here is my initial reply:
While the iPhone 5 (and 4S) do have a very good camera it does have it’s limitations – there are certain scenarios where compact cameras or other higher end DSLR cameras have the advantage, and the ability to adjust the shutter speed to capture a shorter time-span like in sports photography or small children who move quickly can be one of these times.

However – I believe I have an idea that may provide a solution…
Some of the iPhone camera apps have a burst setting – which captures several shots over a few seconds.  I performed a test using birds at the local park (which – like young, naturally energetic children – don’t choose to sit still for long).

But before that – there’s something else to share. Do your best to keep your camera (iPhone stable – and not moving). A lot of times, a blurry photo is not only/just the subject moving but the camera. Use a tripod or some kind of stable trick… like set the camera on a desk/table or fence railing at the park. This will help ensure the phone camera is steady and limits blurry , out of focus photos.

Ok – time for my test… I went down to the Civic Center Pond in San Rafael and the ducks, geese, and seagulls were out in force. A family was feeding them so that was good (as the gulls like to swoop in).

I used two different iPhone photo apps that I know have burst mode: Camera + and Camera Awesome.

Camera+ has one burst mode while Camera Awesome has two: Slow Burst and Fast Burst – interesting on the Fast Burst in Camera Awesome it even says (Lower resolution).

The images from both apps looked fine while viewing on the iPhone but I knew the real test was going to be viewing them full screen back at home.

With the photos captured using Camera+, you can see the motion was frozen, with birds wings paused in mid-air. But the images look blurry when viewed large-screen.  (see the link here: Camera+ Burst Mode test photos).  The top 20 photos on this page were captured in the burst mode – the bottom 2 look so good as they were captured in the standard Camera+ mode for reference (no burst mode on those bottom two).  Examination of these top 20 Burst mode pics reveals they are a lower resolution image, at 640×478. While the two control photos measured 3264×2448.

I only used the Slow Burst setting on the Camera Awesome App to see what it could really do (and trying to avoid lower resolution images).
I am very pleased with the photos captured using this method… see them posted here: These three photos, captured using the Slow Burst mode on Camera Awesome measure a respectable 3264×2448.

Camera Awesome Tools Menu

My take-away is that I will use the Camera Awesome Slow Burst mode function to capture wild-life, both human, other mammals and birds in the future.

Video instruction using the Camera Awesome App on your iPhone is part of my on-line classroom here: iPhone Photography Secrets.  Camera Awesome is taught in Section 7, and I address specifics of the Burst Mode is lesson #37.