How to Photograph Your Friends Jumps in Midair with a Polaroid Camera
We all have that one Facebook friend with magazine-worthy cover photos, including a flawless, classic mid-air shot of friends in front of a white sandy beach and a glittering blue ocean. Are these people’s lives really that perfect, or do they have a few tricks up their sleeves? We may never know, but you can count on having some flawless photos of your own by implementing the following strategies using the new Polaroid cameras.
1. Adjust your angle
What could be more boring than taking every picture at eye level? One of the keys to taking spectacular mid-air photos is to take them low to the ground and angled slightly upward, so you can aesthetically emphasize the space between the ground and your subjects. This lower angle also ensures that you’ll get a good shot of the shadows on the ground beneath your subjects, which makes a mid-air picture especially epic. Sometimes you may have to experiment with your angle a bit before taking a picture, since constantly changing factors (such as lighting and speed) can all influence which angle is best.
2. Increase the shutter speed
You can access the settings for your Polaroid Cube by connecting it to a computer with the included micro-USB cable, which will launch a file named PolaroidCube.exe. The file features a menu of settings, including light frequency, timestamp, cycle recording, and beeper volume. Light frequency is what controls the shutter speed of the camera, which should ideally be on the higher end when shooting fast action shots like mid-air jumping pictures. The Cube’s light frequency can be set to 50Hz or 60Hz, so be sure to opt for the latter when attempting to clearly capture movement.
3. Turn up the lights
Natural, direct sunlight is ideal for motion shots, since an abundant supply of light allows the camera to quickly and easily absorb the image. If you’re lacking in sunlight, use a camera flash or bring your own lighting supplies. For outdoor shooting, you should aim for a clear day, and a time where the sun is directly overhead. Avoid areas with potential sunlight obstructions like large trees or skyscrapers. Be sure to test the lighting conditions before you shoot by having a stand-in (something or someone representing the photo’s subject) experiment with different placements and angles. This allows you to understand the scene’s conditions more fully before taking the picture, which saves time and leads to better photos.
4. Grab stills from a video
The Polaroid Cube HD video camera records 1080p/720p video at a 124-degree viewing angle, which ensures a high-quality depiction without having to undergo several trial shots. It takes both luck and skill for a photographer to capture a mid-air moment at the perfect time—and that’s with assuming that the subjects were perfectly in sync and perfectly photogenic at the moment it was taken. Since all of these elements contribute to the final result, it is naturally fairly difficult to get everything perfect, even out of 100 different takes. That’s why taking a video instead can give you a little shortcut to the final result in a much more efficient way. Simply film your friends jumping a few times, upload it to your computer, and review the stills to extract the best photograph.
5. Edit your still shots
Let’s say you didn’t get the greatest shot of a mid-air moment, or say your final result just wasn’t all that you thought it would be. Another way to emphasize the motion in the scene is to take multiple shots and edit them into one multi-framed picture. This is a clever trick for especially fast movements, such as a gymnast doing multiple back flips and back handsprings on a mat. There are dozens of free and affordable photo-editing apps and software that can also help you edit a series of shots into a moving GIF that also illustrates the scene in a totally new way.
6. Upgrade your camera
The Polaroid Cube+ is the best action camera on the market today, offering comparably better quality and more features than the standard Polaroid Cube. If you find yourself struggling to get the results you’re after with your current camera, it may be time to upgrade. The Polaroid Cube+ features image stabilization technology that prevents the shakiness that often comes naturally when dealing with outdoor, active photography. In addition to this special feature, the Cube+ also features HD 1440p video and an 8 megapixel camera, which both exceed those of the standard Polaroid Cube. As an added bonus, the Cube+ also has access to Wi-Fi, which allows you to store excess footage in the cloud and more conveniently share your work online.
7. Use a tripod or mount
If you want improved image stabilization while sticking to your standard Cube camera—or perhaps even go all out by complementing the stabilization technology of the Cube+—, you can try one of the many compatible mounts available for both cameras. These mounts include a helmet mount, bike mount, strap mount, wearable pendant, and monkey shaped mount. For a photograph like a mid-air group jump on the beach, a monkey shaped mount is best-suited, since these cool and quirky mounts can be placed anywhere to help stabilize a shot or a video that you could be in yourself. You can also capture great motion shots while participating in high-intensity sports like mountain biking or skateboarding by securing a Cube or Cube+ camera to your helmet for stable, high-quality shots while you do your own thing.
8. Avoid busy backgrounds
If there’s too much going on in the background of your shot, your camera will have a difficult time focusing on the subject at hand, which will likely result in a less-than-perfect picture. As a general rule, if you want to take mid-air shots or general action shots, avoid shooting in locations where there are a lot of other things going on. For example, taking a jumping picture in front of a busy road will likely result in a blurry look, since the moving vehicles behind your subjects will confuse the camera’s focus. Obviously, this kind of thing can be difficult to avoid for things like outdoor sporting events, but whenever you can control the background of your photos, always go with a cleaner and stiller background.
Ultimately, photography is an art, which means you will have to get a little creative with your photo-taking strategies. Your shots won’t always turn out exactly as you expected, but that’s all part of the learning experience and related to the artistic nature of the medium as a whole.