4 Ways to Use a Camera Remote to Improve Your Portraits
The chances are that you know what a camera remote is and that among other things, it helps you get sharper photos.
After all, by not having to hold the camera and instead mounting it to a tripod and using a remote, you don't have to worry about things like using a shutter speed that's fast enough to prevent camera shake.
Camera remotes are also necessary for more advanced photography techniques like long exposures and time-lapse videos.
But you don't have to tackle advanced photography to find a need for a camera remote.
Consider these four ways you can use a camera remote to get a better portrait
Get Better Candids
It seems like the instant you have a camera in your hand, the people you're trying to photograph turn into someone else.
Rather than being relaxed and act natural, a lot of people (myself included) tense up, try to force a smile, and generally just look uncomfortable.
Enter a camera remote...
The easiest way to get genuine candid photos is to set up your camera, fire up your camera remote, and trigger the shutter when your subjects least expect it.
Engage them in conversation. Crack a joke. If it's a lifestyle portrait, let them go about their routine and randomly fire the shutter as they do.
The point is that with a camera remote, you can work incognito, and that will help your portrait subjects relax.
Give Your Kid the Power
What better way to get your child involved in a family photo shoot than by giving them the power to actually take the photo?
With a camera remote, you can get the camera all set up, dial in the settings, and then hand the remote trigger over to your kid and let them feel like a big boy or girl that's responsible for the photos.
Better still, what kid doesn't like to cheese for the camera?
By handing over the remote to your child, they can be free to take all kinds of silly selfies or crazy photos with their friends that will make a pretty great addition to your photo album.
Even for older kids, having the camera remote in their hands can be a fun adventure. With some remotes, like Pulse and Spark by Alpine Labs, you can even download the companion smartphone app to their phone so that they can take ultimate control of still photos, long exposures, videos, and time-lapses too.
What a great way to get your kid interested in photography!
Take Better Selfies
I've never been a huge fan of smartphone selfies...
For me, I think they just look too cheesy, and far too often your arm gets in the way.
What's more, how many of those kinds of informal selfies with your arm occupying half the screen ever make it into a photo album or a frame on your mantel?
Instead, using a camera remote allows you to take photos of yourself on your own or some snaps of you with your friends or family that might have a chance of being frame-worthy.
It's a perfect solution for those instances in which you want to include yourself in a photo of a breathtaking landscape or you want to get a fun family photo when you're on vacation.
Try Light Painting
If you want to get extra creative, you can use a camera remote to try light painting as well.
Although light painting looks on the complicated side, it's really just a matter of finding a dark spot, setting up your camera on a tripod, and using bulb mode and your camera remote to use a long exposure.
With the shutter open, you or a friend just needs to move around with a flashlight, a headlamp, a glow stick, or some other light-emitting device, and paint the scene with light.
Check the tutorial video below from First Man Photography for some tips on light painting techniques:
Not all Camera Remotes are Made Equal
Just like all cameras and lenses aren't made equal, neither are camera remotes.
Sure, you can get a cheap, one-function infrared remote that lets you fire the shutter, but that doesn't allow you to maximize the creative possibilities of having a camera remote.
Instead, I use Pulse by Alpine Labs, pictured below. Here's why...
Pulse gives you the power to create real-time videos, time-lapse videos, long exposures, and still photos, right from your phone.
Since it works via Bluetooth, you can operate Pulse from up to 100 feet away, too.
And Pulse is much more than just a remote trigger. You can make all sorts of adjustments to your photos, like changing the aperture and ISO. Pulse even gives you a histogram and an image preview, both of which you can review on your phone.
I can't tell you how many times I've said "Thank goodness for Pulse" when I'm out in the field. It's that handy!
And soon, Alpine Labs will release a new camera remote - Spark (pictured below) - that builds on the idea of Pulse but takes it one step further.
Spark is a three-in-one remote so that you can use it as an infrared remote, a wired cable release, or as an app-controlled remote from your phone.
It's truly the best of all three worlds!
Better still, Spark can work independent of your phone, too. Just press Spark's button between photos, and it will automatically record 10 seconds of time-lapse footage.
You can even use Spark to change the interval between shots and the duration during which shots are taken.
No matter what kind of photo you're taking, a top-notch camera remote can be an incredible help. Grab a Pulse or Spark from Alpine Labs, get to work, and see what kind of awesome portraits (and other photos) you can take!