A “photo burst”, on an iPhone or iPad, is a sequence of photos taken in rapid succession

Taking a burst of photos can improve your chances of getting a good picture in situations when things are moving quickly and you can’t go back and do it again if you miss it the first time.

The way that you take a burst of photos on an iPhone is simple in that all you have to do is keep your finger on the “shutter button” (the white circle in the Camera app) for a few seconds. The camera will then take a rapid sequence of pictures for as long as you press the button. Incidentally, you don’t have to press the “shutter button” to take pictures. Clicking on either the “volume up” or “volume down” button while the camera app is open will also take pictures.

If you now open the Photos app and go to the picture that is a “Burst”, you will see some text near the top left of the screen saying, for example, “Burst (22 photos)”. Note that if you tap on the image (so that all the surrounding text and icons disappear), this text also disappears and you can not tell that you are not looking at a normal, single, image. If this happens, just tap on the photo to bring the icons and options back.

When you are looking at a burst, there is a new option below the image that says “Select…” If you tap on this, you can then scroll (left to right and vice versa) through each separate image in the burst to see which one(s) you would like to keep as separate images. For some odd reason, the first image you see will be part way through the sequence so you have to scroll leftwards to get to the beginning. As you scroll through, just tap on each image to be kept and a tick will appear in the bottom righthand corner of each one. When finished selecting, click on “Done” (at top right).

The first time you select images from a particular burst, pressing “Done” will bring up the option to “Keep Everything” or “Keep Only 5 Favourites” (or however many you ticked). If you choose to “Keep Everything” then you will keep the “burst” (ie all the images in the burst presented as a single “burst image”) plus you will keep separate images of the ticked items in the burst. If you choose to keep only the favourites (ticked items) then the burst will be deleted. This is obviously good for saving space on your device, but the burst will now have gone to data heaven and can’t be accessed again.

If you want to revisit the burst and save further images from it, just display the burst in the photos app again, click on “Select” and choose further images to save separately. This time, however, when you click “Done” you will not be presented with the option to “Keep Everything”. This time the burst will be automatically saved and the images that you have just chosen will also be saved (as separate images).

Not re-presenting the option to “Keep Everything” is one thing that confused me when first looking at bursts. Another is that I expected the option “Keep Everything” to mean that each single image in the burst would be automatically saved as a separate image. That’s not what it means. Rather, it means “keep the burst plus any ticked images”. To keep each image in the burst separate from the burst, just select each image in the burst and click “Done”.

The illustration below shows every fourth image in a burst. No doubt, most people could have found a more interesting subject.



Having now got to grips with how “burst” works, all you need to do now is remember to use it in those few seconds that it would be useful!

QR Codes are not to be confused with Space Invaders.

This is a Space Invader:Space Invaders Grafitti

This is a QR Code:A sample of a QR Code - David Leonard's Business Card

What they have in common is that they’ve both been popping up in public places for the last couple of years. I think I used to be a bit confused about what they are and whether they are somehow related to each other. They are not. The Space Invaders are graffiti, composed of ceramic tesserae in patterns recalling the old Pacman and Space Invaders computer games of 30-odd years ago. These graffiti pop up unexpectedly all over London and always give me the same smile as spotting a new Banksy.

QR Codes, on the other hand, are like barcodes. They contain information that can be instantly “read” and transferred to the device that reads them. Barcodes in supermarkets are usually read by laser beams. QR Codes are read by the camera on a smartphone or tablet computer (or even a laptop computer if you feel like opening it up in the street and pointing the camera at shop windows, posters, etcetera). The software that captures the image extracts the data from it and sends it on to somewhere else (such as creating a new contact in an address book or automatically completing a website address in a browser).

What’s the point? They make capturing information for later use very simple. How often have you wanted to record something that you see (such as a phone number) for later use, but haven’t had a pen or haven’t thought it worth stopping to dig out out a pencil and paper, etc? This, of course, is one of the great uses of the camera on a mobile phone. Just take a picture of something you want to turn your attention to later and let the image on your phone serve as a visual reminder. You do have to be a little careful when doing this sometimes. Believe it or not, I was asked to leave PC World in Tottenham Court Road a few months ago for photographing a laptop I was shortlisting. My claim to fame as a computer consultant – ejected from PC World. Oh, the shame of it.

Anyway, QR Codes take these “reminder snapshots” a stage further by extracting text embedded in the image and passing that text straight to where you need it – the address bar of a browser, for instance, or your address book.

I suppose that there’s a chance that QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) may not become universally used. Passing contact details between mobile phones via bluetooth never caught on widely. My guess, though, is that they are here to stay because they’re so easy. You can definitely pass contact details between mobile phones more quickly by QR Code than by manually inputting the data (and there’s no chance of typos). Nevertheless, I can imagine half the people reading this blog echoing Shirley Conran’s opinion that “Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom”. I recommend that if you use a smartphone and you know how to install an app then QR Codes are well worth spending just a few minutes on. Who knows, they may save you enough time in the future that you can afford to spend some of it stuffing mushrooms.

And if you do decide that you’re firmly in the Shirley Conran camp, at least you now know what those strange square boxes are all about.

Pacman and paint roller graffiti spotted in Rathbone Place, W1, on 13/04/12

PS: I’ve just had a thought. How would PC World have reacted to my phone’s camera if I had been capturing a QR Code and not taking a picture of a potential purchase? Hmm, I think I’ll stick to my usual purchasing policy regarding PC World – only do it when I know they are the cheapest, when I don’t have to ask them anything at all, and when there’s very very little chance of having to return it.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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