Reluctant to take video on your smartphone or tablet?

Not sure what to do with it once you have it?

Sometimes still photographs don’t fully capture what you want to share. Say, your grandchild’s first steps, the golf swing you want to analyze, or your dog dancing around the living room. With your smartphone in your hand, you are always ready to capture such special moments.

I never thought I would do much with video, until I became a grandfather. While I love taking photographs of my year-old granddaughter, I see that movies provide a dimension that still photographs don’t. I’ve recorded her first tentative crawl, watched her slide the length of the living room on her backside, pull herself up on the coffee table, and play with the dog. I can’t wait to see her first steps, ride a bike, go skiing with me, and her first piano recital. All of these activities are ideal, of course, for movies.

I use an iPhone so that is my frame of reference here but Android phone users can also record video and then choose from a variety of video editing apps. See this article for five video editing apps for Android.

Here are some basic ideas for shooting video to get you started.

1. Adjust your attitude! Relax. Have fun. There is no way you can mess anything up and you can always re-shoot or edit your footage.  You can look at your video immediately on your phone or tablet or project it through your TV or large monitor. So, take a deep breath and get started…but read the rest of these simple instructions first!

2. Open up your camera and set to video. Look at your screen to peruse the options you have—timer, camera to switch from front and rear shots, type of focus, and more. On the iPhone I have a shutter button on the screen but can also use the volume buttons on the side for the same purpose. (See next item for the proper grip and camera orientation.)

3. For most shots (except the Empire State Building and basketball players) you’ll want to shoot video in landscape (horizontal) mode not portrait (vertical) mode. Hold your phone (er…camera) sideways with the volume buttons on the top and the home button on the left. Holding your camera with both hands makes it much steadier for a smoother video and the landscape orientation mimics the way the video will show on your screen, sideways and not up and down. In portrait mode you will end up with a narrow picture and two large black bands on either side of the video that will look even worse when you project on a large screen. HINT: Videos are almost always presented horizontally and that is why you want to shoot them that way.

4. Don’t hesitate to shoot a lot. You aren’t paying for film and developing, so shoot away. On the other hand, don’t let bad or unused video clutter up your camera or hard drive. Delete as needed.

5. Hold your shots for 10-20 seconds but generally no longer. Better to have a series of shorter shots of the same scene but from different points of view—close-up, medium range, and long shot. And don’t pan, moving the camera from one end of a scene to another, excessively. Use your feet to zoom, by moving closer or farther away from your subject.

6. Two features on my iPhone 5s and in iOS 8 are Time-Lapse and Slo-Mo allowing you to take time-lapse and slow motion photography. Many, many applications for each that we will deal with in another post. But do try them out and see what you think.

Look for a post soon about using video editing apps to put together video clips into short movie.

When do you use video instead of still photos?