7 Tips For Taking An Awesome Boomerang

Now that you know how to expertly snap Fourth of July fireworks, you could take your shooting one step further, and perfect your Boomerang-taking skills. Instagram's Boomerang app, introduced in October, 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).

How can you say no to this? #flan 🍴 @dimemedia @vivemejor #dessert #tutwist

A video posted by victoria ✈︎ travel + lifestyle (@victoriasbrokesecret) on

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.

😂 @banjowen and @hannahrw, shot by @johnbarnett

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

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.

C'est l'automne! 💛 #louisemonamour #versailles #france #autumn #boomerang

A video posted by Dani Vitória (@danivitoria_) on

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.

More #slide action at #work with @bradmoss10 trying the new #boomerang app by @instagram 😂 #IABUK

A video posted by Caroline Manson (@carolinemanson1) on


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.

Now, take your newfound Boomerang expertise and have some fun!

This article originally ran July 1, 2016.

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