Now that you know how to expertly shoot nighttime photos, take your iPhone camera expertise one step further, and perfect your Boomerang-taking skills. Instagram's Boomerang app snaps a handful of photos in quick succession, and then turns them into a GIF-like loop that plays and rewinds on itself, ad infinitum. If you haven't tried it yourself yet, you've likely seen the quirky results in your Instagram feed.
If used correctly, a Boomerang can be amazingly entertaining — and hypnotic. For example:
But to capture the perfect Boomerang, you want to keep a few key things in mind.
1. Keep your phone steady
If you're holding the phone in place, go ahead and grab a tripod, or find something to keep your hand steady on, so your shaky hands don't disrupt the shot — in the photo above, the phone was on the ground, for example. It's usually best to keep the phone still when you're shooting a Boomerang. But if you'll be panning the camera instead, just give it a few practice runs to make sure you've got the pacing set (and the phone level).
2. Don't shoot it like a GIF
A GIF loops a whole short video over and over again. A Boomerang, on the other hand, plays a video forward, and then backwards, and then loops that. This sounds like a small detail, but it's actually a fundamental difference in how you want to capture a shot: For a perfectly looping GIF, you want to end up in a position identical to where you started. Your Boomerang video, however, should finish at a completely different point than where you started, for the most dramatic effect. You want to let off the app's shutter button right at the height of the action (whatever that may be).
3. It doesn't have to be epic
Jumping into the air, splashing in the pool, the burst of a firework — all these make for terrific Boomerang ideas. But you can also just keep it simple. A fork slicing into a piece of flan, for example, is oddly mesmerizing.
4. Plan it out
Some Boomerang opportunities just present themselves on silver platters. Others may require a little practice and planning. Rehearse it a few times, try a couple takes, and then upload it to Instagram.
5. Capture the action
Instead of trying to capture a photo when a child, animal, or otherwise active subject is your focus, open the Boomerang app and snap a video instead.
6. Your editing options are limited
One downside of shooting a Boomerang, as opposed to a regular video or GIF: As for editing, you're limited to what's available in the Instagram app. If you're a VSCO diehard, you're SOL. Once you export it to Instagram, though, you can add a filter, trim the clip, and choose which still frame the video will default to. In some cases, you'll want to choose a frame that highlights the action, like in @caitlindechelle's flip. Other times, you might want to keep the action a surprise, like in @carolinemanson1's Boomerang above. You can also string multiple Boomerangs together.
7. Use the app's hidden settings.
The Boomerang app does offer a couple of hidden settings tweaks you can adjust. With four fingers, tap quickly about four times on the app screen. This pulls up a secret settings menu where you can adjust video resolution, change how the Boomerang repeats (playing video forward and back, with a pause in the middle; forward only; or back only), and lets you adjust the frame count and frame rate of your short video.
8. Create a Boomerang in Instagram Stories.
When it first launched, Instagram Stories required you to upload a Boomerang from your camera roll. Now, a new update has streamlined that process — you can take a Boomerang directly within your story. Just toggle from "Normal" camera mode to "Boomerang" camera mode and hold your finger down on the circle (as you would with a video) to shoot the quick action.
9. Add a Boomerang to a Snapchat Story.
Adding a Boomerang to your Snapchat Story isn't as easy as it is on Instagram, since you can't create one within Snapchat. You also can't save a Boomerang directly to your camera roll. What you can do is text it to yourself, save it to your camera roll from there, and then go to your camera roll within Snapchat's Memories and upload the Boomerang that way. Like we said — it isn't simple, but if you've got a great loop, it can be worth the extra clicks.
10. Scour Instagram for inspiration.
Looking for new ideas? Head to the Instagram account @boomerangfrominstagram, where the company's team curates a feed of some of the best boomerangs. You'll find everything from a simple, but mesmerizing hair flip, to a well-timed dive. You can also check out an individual on Instagram like Alina Valitova, who regularly posts artsy boomerangs.
11. Take note of your background.
You don't always have to be the one creating the action in your Boomerang. Having a background with moving objects, such as wind turbines or flashing signs, can make for a great post. But if this is the case, there's no need to do a crazy flip in the foreground. Keep your movement to a minimum to keep the viewer's focus on what else is happening in the shot.
12. Turn a live photo into a Boomerang.
In addition to its Boomerang camera mode, Instagram Stories now lets you turn a live photo (taken in the last 24 hours) into a Boomerang. Just go to the "Normal" camera screen in Stories, swipe up to see photos taken in the past 24 hours, and select the live photo you want to use. Then, hard press on the screen. You'll see a small circle and the word "Boomerang" appear. When that's done you can add any other edits and post the image to your Story for all to see.
13. Change up how you frame your scene.
A structure in the foreground, such as a gate or window, can help you play with perspective and even create a hypnotizing effect.
14. Rewind The Action
Instagram's new "Rewind" camera mode isn't a boomerang per say, but it mimics some of the action of one by reversing whatever you've just recorded. Simple toggle over to "Rewind" in the camera screen, film your coffee pour or jump, and watch the antigravity magic.
15. Think About Your Sequencing
Because a Boomerang is just a second-long video loop, timing matters. Decide ahead which moment of the action is the most important — the splash when you've landed in the water? The opening of the firework? The spill of paint across your camera? Then, film your video so that the key moment is front and center.
16. Have A Prop
A single prop can make a big difference. Whether it's a hula hoop you're walking through or a beach ball you're tossing above your head, a prop helps you define the action taking place in your one second scene.
17. Add An Effect To Your Live Photos
Apple's Live Photos aren't Boomerangs, but new effects in iOS 11 can make them behave similarly. After taking a Live Photo, find it in your camera roll and swipe up. You'll see three effects: Loop, bounce, and long exposure. Bounce is the one that most closely mimics a Boomerang. Tap the effect to apply it to your image. Not every photo looks seamless with the Bounce effect, but you can always apply the effect and then remove it later on.
Now, take your newfound Boomerang expertise and have some fun!
This article originally ran July 1, 2016.