Getting the most out of running photos
Morning, running fans. I'll admit to you now – I've not tested anything new in the last week, as I've been in New York for work (although here's a tip: if you're in the Big Apple, don't go stereotypical and roll around Central Park over and over again – head south to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It's lovely).
I'm feeling good though, as I'm finally feeling back on track with my running plan – 11 October for the Royal Parks Half can't come quickly enough, and I'm hopefully combining my training for that with getting faster for my 10K race.
One of the things I often struggle with is making sure I appreciate running – you know, taking in the memories while still having an effective run. I mostly run with a phone (as a phones editor should) and I've learned a few tricks about taking photos to capture those memories without sacrificing pace (too much) – and being the kind soul I am, I'm sharing them here with you now.
1. Easy access
The main thing about running with a phone is you've always got a camera with you - no need to think about packing extra. The issue is that when you're running at a certain pace you don't want to slow down to grab your camera.
Get something like the Quadlock armband - not only does it have an easy-twist system to get the phone on and off, but also comes with a case to help you when you accidentally throw the phone to floor. I've also tried the PureGear Hip Sports Band before, which has the added ability to hold a key and some credit cards - but this slides into a clip, rather than spinning off, and can be rather tricky to get the phone out of on a run.
2. Hold the phone
If you're going on pretty scenic trail run and you reckon you'll be taking a fair few snaps, just get rid of the arm band altogether and just hold your phone.
I'm someone who likes to run with free hands - I'll even eschew hydration just to feel freer - but it's worth breaking that rule from time to time. Having the phone in your hand means you've got even quicker access, but please put it in a strong case, as sweat isn't your friend when it comes to holding on tight.
3. It's all about you
While there are some runs where you'll crest over a hill and just gasp at the unexpected view ahead of you, most of the time you want to remember the run itself. Make sure you take the photo that represents the thing you saw and how you felt - such as exiting a long tunnel into the sunshine, or trekking down a long path with nothing around.
It's great to have some nice snaps - but you want to trigger a memory, not just have something to show others.
4. Shutters up
If you're holding the phone and see something you want to take a photo of, it's worth knowing instantly how to open the camera. The good news is many of the top phones offer a quick camera mode: the Galaxy S6 is a double-tapped home button away from taking a picture, where the LG G4 only needs two presses of the rear volume key (plus it auto-takes a pic as well).
Some cameras, like the Sony Xperia Z3, have a dedicated camera button (make sure your case exposes it) and the iPhone 6 has an on-screen slider to get you straight into the snapper.
5. Don't juice out
Dear lord, the amount of people I know that forget this one. GPS eats battery - but cameras munch it even harder, and if you're getting snap-happy, you're going to be depleted in record time. If you're on a two hour run, you need all the juice you can get, so heading out with 45% battery isn't going to cut it here.
6. Chase the sun
The two best times for pictures are as the sun rises, and when it's setting. The long shadows, the crisp lights spilling through the trees, the rich colours - there's nothing better.
While you might not fancy the thought of getting up early, if you're ever jetlagged in a foreign country I urge you to get up before the sun is up and get snapping - it's a nice way to start the day and you'll get pictures most other runners can only dream of.
7. Bursting to get it
It surprises me how few people know about burst mode on a camera. It's usually activated by default, and nearly all top end and mid range phones have the function.
It's activated by holding down the shutter key for a long time, and a clicking sound or rising numbers on the screen will indicate it's working.
The benefit here is that you'll generally get crisper snaps - the iPhone 6 is particularly adept here - and if you're moving at speed and want to grab that moment, chances are higher you'll snag it.
8. Stop, collaborate and glisten
While the previous points are all about taking pictures when you're running without ruining your pace, there are times when it's more important to stop, have a fiddle with settings (HDR mode will usually improve anything with the sky in it) and make sure you get that great picture.
You can play with the timer shutter too so you can get yourself in the picture, which is nicer than asking someone to take it for you (although if they do steal your phone, you're warmed up and they aren't - you'll chase down that thief in no time).
I've got so many photos where I wished I'd just stopped and done it better - you'll forget about the run, but you'll keep an amazing photo for a lifetime.
9. Go wireless
If you're running with headphones, keep them away from the phone otherwise you'll be ripping them out every three seconds. Bluetooth headphones are the best here - I've been running with the Jabra Coach range recently, thanks to the improved Dolby Sound, or the LG Tone offer longer battery life - although the camera shutter sound doesn't half get in the way of the music.
10. Touching up
And remember: once you've finished the run, that's not the end of it. Have a play with your phone's photo editing software - at the very least it'll have an auto mode to help improve pictures, and many will offer filters which can improve things no end.
Also take a look at Google Photos - it offers unlimited cloud storage so you've always got access to those memories when you need them, plus has auto-enhancing effects.
- If you've got any tips, tech you want tested out or just want to mock me, I'm@superbeav on Twitter, and you can see my stumblings on Strava too.
- Read the rest of the Running Man of Tech story here