How to get insane action shots on an iPhone X

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Snagging great action photos doesn’t require a pro-level dSLR. Your iPhone camera is capable of capturing some brilliant moments, as long as you put in a bit of effort too.

I spent time with two pro skateboarders here in London and put together a set of tips to keep in mind — and some things to avoid — to help you get the best shots out of your new iPhone X.

While my tips are built around skateboarding, they can apply to most action sports, including BMX, inline skating or mountain biking. And while I used an iPhone X, most of these tips apply to any phone.

Better light means better photos

I like the angle on this shot, but the dimly lit skate park we were in didn’t produce good results.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Light is crucial for photography, of course, but the small sensor on a phone’s camera makes finding good lighting even more important. When an iPhone detects a darker scene, for example, it will compensate by slowing the shutter speed to let in more light. That’s bad news for sports photography as any action in the scene may end up looking blurred.

My first photoshoot was with British skateboarder Helena Long at a skate park underneath a bridge in west London. Typically overcast, dreary weather made the skate spot dark and shadowy, so even though Helena was able to pull off some amazing tricks, my shots of her were consistently dark and blurred.

The one shot I was even remotely happy required a lot of brightening in the editing app Snapseed (see below), which reduces the quality of the picture by adding image noise. As such, the details are extremely mushy when viewed at full screen (click here for the full-size image).

To ensure better light for my second shoot, I met DC Shoes pro skateboarder Dave Snaddon on a sunny day in Stratford in east London. Under bright skies that filled the scene with light, my iPhone X was able to use fast shutter speeds, freezing Dave in action and delivering crisp shots.

Burst mode is your best friend

In skateboarding — as with most sports — the action happens fast. Taking just one photo when your subject tries a trick might not capture the best moment. Perhaps the feet aren’t in quite the right position, or the skateboard has rotated a bit too far. Or maybe you missed the moment altogether.

Using burst mode — by just holding your finger down on the shutter button — lets you continuously take shots throughout the duration of the action. Once it’s all over, you can flick back through every frame, selecting only the best ones and easily discarding the rest.

Emphasise the height by shooting down low

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By shooting at floor level, the height is emphasised on this neat kickflip.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Getting the right angle for a shot can make all the difference in creating maximum excitement in a photo. By getting down low (I laid down on the ground for many of my shots) you emphasise the distance between the ground and the skater. The result is that even a low jump off a small ledge can look much higher and more impressive.

If you’re particularly brave you can even shoot from directly below as they soar over you — just make sure they’re good enough to not land on you!

Get up close…

By getting closer to the action you’ll be able to see much more of the stunt they’re performing. By removing the distracting background, your eyes are drawn to the position of the feet, the motion of the board or the look of concentration on the face of the skater. All of these help to heighten the drama — and the danger — that action sports involve.

Again, make sure to stay safe when you do get in close. Confirm with the skater beforehand exactly where they’re going to land so that your face isn’t accidentally in the way. Always keep one eye on the skateboard itself. It’s all too easy for it to come flying towards your head if they land incorrectly.

By moving back I was able to show more of this street scene, including the concrete ledge, the steps and the interesting metalwork on the building.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

…then move further away

While it’s great to get right into the action, it’s also important to move back and capture the whole scene to put your subject in context of the location you’re shooting. For instance, don’t cut the interesting architecture in the background by zooming in too close.

That said, if your location isn’t particularly attractive, there may be certain elements (like a distracting sign, or a garbage bin) that you don’t want to include in your shot. In that case, try shooting from a different angle to remove them from the picture.

Tweak your photos in Snapseed

Even the most exciting shots of action sports can still benefit from being punched up a little in the edit. My editing app of choice is Snapseed — it’s quick, easy and has a wide range of tools to play around with. (Download here for iPhone or here for Android, both free.)

I went for a moody black and white edit for this shot, which I think nicely reflects the gritty urban environment we were in.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There’s no right or wrong way to edit. For my shots with Snaddon, for example, I wanted to draw more attention to his tricks, so I used vignettes to darken the frame around him, helping him pop out of the scene a little more. I also used the brush tool to lighten him up a bit as the phone had underexposed him against the bright sky.

Protect your phone

This could not be more critical. Taking photos of sports often means you’ll be kneeling, crouching or suddenly diving out of the way to safety. In those situations, it’s all too easy for your phone to take a fall. You might not want a chunky case on your luscious iPhone X on a night out, but it’s certainly worth having on a photoshoot.

Taito’s Arcade Classic Elevator Action Returns With A Vengeance On PlayStation 4

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While the PlayStation 4 has its fair share of new games to enjoy – like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – we’re always happy to see it get an arcade classic that’s worth its weight in gold. And no better classic deserves a re-release, at least for us, like Taito’s Elevator Action.

This shoot-em-up adventure first hit arcades in 1983, featuring a lone secret agent making his way through a building, subduing agents with kicks and bullets while attaining secret information from certain doors within the building. As you went through the game, agents became tougher, and you had to work quickly to track down all the secrets, before you were filled with lead.

The game saw various releases over the years, including the NES and the recent PlayStation 3 game Elevator Action Deluxe, but now fans can enjoy the original arcade game in all its glory, as it’s available now in Japan for PlayStation 4.

As part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives series, Elevator Action features a number of options you can tinker with, including setting the display mode (to classic CRT settings, if you prefer), as well as partaking in competition through an online leaderboard.

The game hasn’t been given an announcement for U.S. release yet, but considering we’ve seen all of Arcade Archives’ releases arrive on the PlayStation Store in the past, it’s just a matter of time before things go down in Elevator Action. We wouldn’t be surprised if it arrived this Tuesday, as part of the latest update for the store.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing some other legendary Taito games get released over the next few months. We’ve already seen Bubble Bobble make its debut a while back, along with The Legend of Kage. A re-release of Space Invaders might be in order, along with other rare Taito favorites that would fit right in with our contemporary library. We’ll totally take the forgotten sequel Elevator Action Returns as well, just because it was so damn fun.

We’ll let you know when the game is added to the U.S. store – when we’re not taking down eney agents, mind you.

Motorola Verve Cam+ review: A hockey-puck action camera with plenty of accessories – Jeff Parsons

You don’t need to be a YouTube vlogger or a new parent to find a use in having a couple of action cameras lying around.

In my case, regular cycling around London means it’s useful to be able to capture my journey just in case anything interesting happens.

Of course, the default go-to device is whatever the latest GoPro camera is. But there are a wealth of alternatives out there, including the hockey-puck shaped Moto Verve Cam+. It’s from the same stable as the Motorola Verve One+ headphones and comes in at a respectable £159. Which is a lot easier to swallow than the £499 it’ll cost you for the latest GoPro .

The headline feature is the ability to livestream directly from the camera to YouTube. It seems to me that livestreaming to the site has yet to really go mainstream, but Motorola is clearly planning ahead for when it does.

The Verve Cam+ comes with a range of accessories and add-ons that I tried out during a typical week.

Design

As mentioned, the circular hockey-puck design comes in a clean white finish and looks like the top of one of Nest’s security cameras . It’s friendly and utilitarian, and the blinking blue light at the top lets people know you’re filming. Unlike the GoPro Session, you can’t just sit it down on a flat surface without the casing to stabilise it.

A tiny light next to small icons show whether you’re recording video, taking a picture or livestreaming. The microSD card slot is hidden behind a fiddly little door and it takes a bit of practice to get the card in and out swiftly.

Without the waterproof casing, the Verve Cam+ is merely splash-proof. However, it is pretty rugged and survived a couple of my drop tests onto concrete.

If I have a complaint, it’s that the silver buttons (one for power and one for the shutter) are a little difficult to press – especially if you’re wearing thick gloves and can’t see the camera. I find having raised buttons – such as on the Drift Stealth 2 – much better to use. There’s also no screen – so you have no idea how much battery you have left.

Specs and accessories

Front and centre is the Verve Cam+’s 138-degree wide-angle lens, which records footage at 30fps at a 2.5k resolution. Providing you’ve got a screen capable of displaying it (most flagship smartphones will handle this) the results are impressive.

Again, if I had to nitpick, I’d say that the colour reproduction is slightly washed out. But then again, this is an action camera, not a fully-featured DSLR or video camera. The lens captures plenty and there’s no overwhelming fisheye effect that get tiring after a while.

If you want to dip into the world of livestreaming, then you’re going to need to tether the phone to a Wi-Fi connection through your phone. It hooks up to your YouTube channel and a single press of the shutter button will start recording. At the moment, it doesn’t support Facebook or Snapchat, but they may arrive down the line.

There are plenty of accessories to take advantage of, including the all-important waterproof casing that’ll let you take it down to depths of up to 25m.

Elsewhere, you’ve got a casing with a wearable clip and another connected to a lanyard that goes around your neck. Both options mean you can use the phone hands-free. Lastly, there’s a casing that attaches to a variety of grips using a standard mount – so you can fix it to your bike, snowboard or surfboard and film away.

Slightly more expensive accessories will also turn the Verve Cam+ into a home security system. A stand that attaches to the mains lets you livestream continuously. This lets the action camera effectively serve as a kind of standalone security device.

Apparently you can check the footage using the “Hubble Connect for Verve Life” app. I downloaded and signed up but couldn’t find the camera anywhere – even when I’d paired it to my phone. This is a new product though, so I’m expecting it to appear in time.

Battery life and app

The stated battery life is 45 minutes while recording at 2.5k resolution. I found that to be consistent during my testing and, to be frank, it may be one of the weakest points of the Verve Cam+. I don’t really have a problem recording at 1080p because most people don’t own 4k or 2.5k screens. But having a camera conk out around the half-time mark of a football game isn’t great. This is especially true if you’re far away from any form of charging point.

Thankfully, the Verve Cam+ doesn’t take a lot of time to charge back up again, but battery life is still something I feel could be improved.

In order to record on the Verve Cam+ without a microSD card, you’re going to need to attach it to your phone via the Hubble Connected for Verve Cam app on either iOS or Android. Using the app, you can see a live feed from the camera as well as have extra functionality like time-lapse and burst photography.

Sadly, actually using the app isn’t a great experience. I tried it on Android and, after pairing, it repeatedly dropped the connection to the camera – sometimes only after a few seconds. It didn’t take me long to give up on trying to use my phone to record footage and just opt for a microSD card instead.

Conclusion

Action cameras are pretty common these days and there are plenty to choose from. The reasons to opt for the Motorola Verve Cam+ is that it’s got a good balance of quality vs price. By that I mean it doesn’t do 4K but it also doesn’t cost the Earth

If you’re keen to get into livestreaming then this would be a decent gadget to have around because of the variety of clips and mounts you can use. It would be good if it supported more than just YouTube but I expect that will be coming in the future.

Other points to bear in mind are the fiddly controls and the lack of a screen. Also the disastrous app. But that doesn’t stop you loading an SD card in and using it as a second or third-string camera.

If you really want the best of the best, then I’d recommend GoPro for the wealth of accessories, gimbals, mounts and you can get. But the Motorola Verve Cam+ is a respectable option for anyone wanting a decent camera on the go.

You can buy the Motorola Verve Cam+ here.

The Substandard on Arby’s, Getting old Action Stars, and the Apple Look at

The most up-to-date episode of the Substandard is a meaty one—we go on at length about sandwich joints and sandwich meats. Sonny discovers a steakhouse, JVL discovers Arby’s, but Vic discovers a woodshop class. We also explore getting old motion stars—Sonny evaluations The Foreigner. Furthermore Vic appears like Edward Longshanks, JVL loves his new enjoy, and Sonny urges listeners to “get out of this hellhole while you can!”

The Substandard is sponsored by the Greenback Shave Club. Get their $5 starter box (a $15 worth!) with absolutely free transport by browsing dollarshaveclub.com/substandard.

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The most up-to-date episode of the Substandard is a meaty one—we go on at length about sandwich joints and sandwich meats. Sonny discovers a steakhouse, JVL discovers Arby’s, but Vic discovers a woodshop class. We also explore getting old motion stars—Sonny evaluations The Foreigner. Furthermore Vic appears like Edward Longshanks, JVL loves his new enjoy, and Sonny urges listeners to “get out of this hellhole while you can!”

The Substandard is sponsored by the Greenback Shave Club. Get their $5 starter box (a $15 worth!) with absolutely free transport by browsing dollarshaveclub.com/substandard.

This podcast can be downloaded below. Subscribe to the Substandard on iTunes, Google Enjoy, or on Stitcher. Join the Substandard neighborhood on Fb and comply with on Twitter!

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