Farming with the Smart Phone

Guest post by: Scott A. Stoltz, Integrated Media Specialist and Field Photographer

In the past 4 years, I have had the pleasure of being asked to document some really great advances in the field for Monsanto. I have traveled thousands of miles, walked through hundreds of farm fields in various stages of the growth cycle and braved the intense elements that Mother Nature has to offer.

However, that is just a small portion of what farmers around the world endure every single day, months and through the years as they work hard to feed the rest of us. I have taken many photos and videos in my short stint in the field. While reflecting about all of the joys of nature that I had the privilege to see, it hit me. Farmers of today have an incredible tool at an arms reach to help them show us what they really do, Their Smart Phones!

Understanding Mobile Camera & Video

By “Farming with the Smart Phone,” farmers can invite the rest of us right into their world as it unfolds on a daily basis for those whom are willing to share a portion of their daily operations, growth, progress and obstacles they experience while farming.

There are many smart devices out there for the farmers to choose from based on today’s technology. According to Web Pro News the top 5 Mobile devices for the end of the second quarter fiscal year 2012 comes in with Apple’s smartphone brand market share as 31% and Samsung’s as 24%. HTC and Motorola follow these heavyweights with 15% and 12% of the market, respectively. LG rounds out the top 5 with only 6% of the market. Based on these numbers and the fact that these will change rapidly, I have chosen to discuss tips and trick for using the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and the Android. For more information, please refer to this link.

In this series of blogs, I plan to discuss the Cam and Video Apps that come with each device as well as premium Apps that will streamline the user’s ability to capture great images and share through Social networks like Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, direct multimedia messaging and email. We will also discuss Cloud based editing and storage of the pictures and video.

Tips for iPhone Photography & Video

I have chosen to start with the iPhone. This device is the most user-friendly interface out of all three devices. Once you unlock your device, the icon for the camera App is located in the top right corner of the screen. The stock photography and video cam is very simple to use. You can choose to shoot in landscape or portrait just by changing the orientation of the actual device. Use your best judgment here to make sure you truly capture the image you want for the shot.

If you want to shoot video, just slide the icon from camera to video camera and you are ready to go. However, this next tip is HUGE!!! When capturing video, please make sure you position you device to capture in landscape, hold the device long ways and use both hands to really get a steady shot and push record, when the record icon is flashing red, you are capturing video. The system will auto adjust to the environment in which you are shooting. Be sure to not face the sun, this will cause your subject to be a dark silhouette and that’s rarely what you are looking for. The built-in video camera comes with auto white balance as well as an auto focus, more advanced Apps allow even more control of these features. We will get into those Apps in the next blog.

Now that you have captured your masterpiece, you may want to share it or save it. The iPhone automatically saves your videos to the camera app, under the small icon in the bottom left of the Cam App. Tap this icon to open up the “Camera Roll”. Inside this icon you will find all of you videos saved in the order they were shot on your device. Scroll through these files and you will find all of your photos as well as your videos in this specific order taken with your device. Select a video by tapping on the actual video and it will maximize. The window will list the number of the video and a small timeline that looks like a series of clips at the top.

If you tap and drag on the left of this timeline you can swipe across it slowly and fast forward and rewind the actual video. If you tap on the far right of the time line it will become highlighted in yellow. This indicates you now have the ability to trim the beginning and ending of the video to determine what the actual length of your video will be. Once you have the video trimmed to your liking, push the trim button, the device will prompt you to trim original or save as a new clip. If you want to be sure to keep the original clip, then tap the icon that says “save as a new clip”.

Ok, now that you have shot and trimmed your video clip, let’s share it. Look for the small icon at the bottom of the screen that looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing to the right, that’s the share button. You will be given 3 options: Email video, Message or Send to YouTube. Depending on your needs and who you want to share your video with will determine what icon you choose.

  • Email —FYI, in order to save space on your device, you can email this video to your personal email account, you will have the video for later use by storing it in your video folder on your personal computer or a larger hard drive. This allows you to delete the video from your iPhone so you can have plenty of room for future videos.
  • Message the video to a friend, push the Message button, this quickly opens the MMS page, choose a contact, tap below the picture and the cursor will be flashing where the text will appear. Type a short note and hit send.
  • YouTube – Ok, last but not least you have decided you want this Ag video to go viral! Let’s Post it to YouTube! Note, an icon will pop up and ask you for your YouTube Username and Password. If you don’t have one yet you may want to do that first from a PC, MAC or follow the steps from the YouTube App on your iPhone. Once you have signed in the YouTube interface, it will ask you for the title and description of your video. Since you have shot this video on the stock video cam for the iPhone, you will see that the Standard Definition will be checked and highlighted. Then choose your category and choose if you would like the video to go Public (Anyone can search for and view), Unlisted (Anyone with a link can view) or Private (Only specific YouTube users can view).  All that is left to do now is to push the blue icon button in the top left of the screen that reads “Publish” Congratulations, you have just shot, trimmed and published you first video from your iPhone.

Let’s take a quick look at how you may choose between these three key uses:

  • Email the video: this tool is great to share with a select group of friends or to be able to store and catalog the video clips to review later, such as habits of livestock or field conditions on a specific day.
  • Messaging the video clip is a quick way to share a vide clip with someone either in the field, back on the farm or home in case you need a specific item, tool, product or material.
  • Publishing to YouTube is a great way to share the progress or daily procedures you may encounter in the field, on the farm or even just for fun on the family vacation.

All of these are great tools to have right at an arms reach. So take a moment, look around you and start shooting some great video.

In my next blog post we will discuss in detail how to shoot  High Definition Video on the iPhone using Premium Video Camera Apps, how to Shoot in HD and send directly to Facebook. As well as Editing Apps and Cloud-based storage by utilizing Vimeo.

Until next time, enjoy your day by getting out there and shoot some great pictures and videos on the iPhone.

Scott A Stolz is an integrated media specialist and field photographer at Monsanto. AgChat advisory board member Janice Person says “he’s as passionate about video and photography technology as most farmers are of their part of agriculture. And, he’s great working with farmers so AgChat seemed a perfect match!” Scott routinely shoots video on a variety of equipment, from expensive professional, broadcast-grade to his mobile phone. He’s offered to write a series of posts to share tips on ways to maximize mobile phones photos & videos.


  1. Great post, Scott! Thank you for the information!

  2. Scott: Thanks for your post. I have shot video on my Android Razor and attempted to email either myself or another individual with no luck. The video will never attach. Suggestions as to what I might be doing?

    Also do we need to have a YouTube account?