In this video, Sean Duggan walks us through how to use burst mode on your phone in creative ways. For more LinkedIn Learning videos about photography, click here.

Hey there, I’m Sean and this week we’re gonna take a look at a feature on your mobile phone camera that you may already be familiar with. It’s called the burst mode. On Apple iPhones it’s built in. It’s part of the native camera app and on Android phones there’s a lot of different camera apps that have this feature.

Essentially what the burst mode does is it allows you to take, very quickly, a range of many photographs. Typically you do it by just holding the button down. On the Apple iPhone it comes on automatically when you’ve got the self timer on and so when you set the camera up and take a self timer shot of yourself, or maybe, you know, you’ve got a group of friends together, it’s gonna take ten pictures right off the bat. And the idea behind that is that you can go through and choose the very best one to decide which one to save and, you know, throw the rest out.

But there are other cool ways that you can use the burst mode.

This video is from Mobile Photography Weekly by Sean Duggan

The idea behind burst mode

So let’s go into my albums here and on the iPhone there is an album for bursts. The camera knows when you’ve used that functionality and it automatically groups them into a burst album. So let’s go in here. I’ve got actually a lot that are just hanging around here. Now let’s take a look at how you might use this just to save out the good photos. I’m gonna go into this top one here. So whenever you’re in a burst, it identifies it here as a burst. It tells you how many pictures are in it. So in this one this is 38 photos. And then what you need to do is you need to choose Select because what it does is it’s only showing you one of the pictures there. So if I come in here you can see it’s not showing me all 36. But I have to tap Select and then it gets me 36 and you can see that down at the bottom here that there’s some dots and those are the ones that it has selected. The ones that it thinks are good. But what’s cool about this little film strip down here is that you can swipe over it and you can see this action playing almost like a little bit of a movie here. So that’s pretty cool and if you want to save a shot, what you need to do is just tap on the corner of the thumbnail.

So we’ll get that one right there where he’s sort of up there in mid air. That looks good. I’ll select that one and I’ll come over here and get … Oh, maybe that one looks good, and that one, and that one, we’ll say. And then I can choose Done. And then I get a prompt here. I can either choose to Keep Everything or I can Keep Only the Four Favorites that I’ve saved here. Or that I’ve indicated here. So in this case I’m just gonna choose that to keep everything. But that’s how the basic selection process works for saving your burst mode photos.

Planning out a burst mode

One thing that I like to do with burst mode is use it for things beyond just the self timer approach. So you can see there that I was using it to capture an action sequence. And that’s really key because with an action sequence the things are happening really fast. You may not know exactly when to press the button, so you just want to press the button continuously and it’ll rattle off photos. Let’s take some compelling pictures here of the tablecloth and you’ll see. So when I press the button you’re gonna see a number counter go off here. So I’m just gonna press and hold and there’s that number counter. Ooh, it’s art. It’s meaningful, it’s deep. Very cool. Alright, I’ve got 63 pictures there to choose from and that’s how you work with burst mode if you want to do an action sequence.

Obviously this was not much of an action sequence. So let’s go back to my albums here and let’s look at some other cool things we can maybe do with burst mode. So you might look at this and decide, “Well, it’d be kind of cool if I was walking on a city street and I could be crossing a sidewalk here and shooting burst modes there.” Or we could do a skateboarder skating through a skate park. Something like that. And the cool thing about this is that it does give you this ability to choose aspects of the picture that you can’t really predict such as the way that this skater’s dress there is blowing in the wind as she’s skating past me there.

The other thing that I like to play around with sometimes with burst mode is shooting non-action scenes. Basically shooting static objects. So here I was walking around at night one night and just pointing the camera up into the trees and panning it back and forth to see what sort of motion effect I could get. Now of course you might think, “Well, you can do that with video.” Video is a lot harder to do in low light than still photos and so this gave me a better effect there.

Creating video with ImgPlay

Now you might think as you’re seeing me, you know, swipe back and forth along that little thumbnail strip of the burst that it looks a little bit like a movie and, you know, “Gee wouldn’t it be great to be able to save that out as a movie?” Well, you can. Let’s go and check that out. Go into another app here. This is a little app called ImgPlay. And I can open this up here and, again, you see I have access to my different albums.

Now one key thing here. Notice it says I have access to live photos. Now I don’t actually have live photos on this phone cause this is a phone that came out right before live photos. But, you can take your live photos and turn them into a little animated GIF. So if you do have a phone that has that functionality, this is an app that’ll help you out with that.

I’m gonna stay in the burst album here and I’m gonna get this thumbnail right here. And one cool thing that I like about this is that it tells me how many frames are in each burst sequence, which kind of gives me an idea maybe how long it might be. But I’m gonna choose this one of this skateboarder. And the thing I really love about this is that, you know, she’s showed up there I think before work and she’s got her dress on. I just thought that looks so great with her dress trailing out behind her. So you can see that what we’ve got going on here is just this sort of endless loop and if I move this slider here, I can slow the playback speed so it goes a little bit slower. And speed it back up a little bit maybe. Something like that looks pretty good. Down at the bottom I’ve got this directional arrow. So right now it’s going forward. I can tap that and it’s gonna go backward. I tap it again and it’s gonna back and forth. So if I felt that that was working for the type of little movie I wanted to create, I could certainly do that.

So what I’m noticing about this one here is that on the left side she’s still in the frame as she gets to the edge but then she’s going out of frame on the right side. I’d like to still have her be in the frame on the right side and that way it’s gonna look like she’s bouncing back and forth like she’s trapped in some virtual pong game. So what I’m gonna do is up here are the trim markers here. So I can move these sliders in and trim it. So what I’m gonna do is bring my finger in here and just grab that and trim that a bit. I need to bring it in a little bit more and a little bit more. Right about there. There we go. Now we got the pong effect.

Alright, so now that we’ve got that going, I can save this out. So I’ll just tap the arrow key here and we got a preview here. And you can see it’s gonna be about 2.37 seconds. You can share it out to the usual suspects of social media and other places. I’m just gonna tap Save here. I really like the capability here to decide what size it is. I love it when apps allow me to make that choice rather than the app making the choice for me. In this case it doesn’t need to be too big. Here I’ll just choose this as a GIF High Quality. Don’t need to do a video so I’ll choose that and save it out. And then that is going to save it. And now I can post it to a website or text it to somebody.

So the great thing about the burst mode, whether you’re working on an iPhone or an Android device, is that it does give you that ability to capture a motion sequence much more effectively than if you were trying to sort of tap the camera button right when you thought the motion was perfect. Just hold the button down and get a whole sequence of it. And as you’re selecting the burst pictures and moving your finger along that little film strip you’ll notice that it does kind of look like a little movie and with apps like ImgPlay, you can actually take those burst sequences and turn them into a little animated GIF.

Lead photo by Stage 7 Photography on Unsplash