If you love looking at great photos of fireworks but never knew how to take them yourself, now you can! We’ve put together a short tip sheet for taking great 4th of July fireworks photos with your phone or camera!
Adjust Your Settings
Adjusting the settings on your phone (or any camera) is key for taking great photos of fireworks. If you’re using a phone, you’ll want to:
- Turn off your flash. This will let your camera know to use only the light available (from the fireworks) and will keep the shutter open longer than with the flash, so you’ll be able to capture the fireworks.
- Don’t use the HDR setting. While you may think that using your phone’s HDR setting would increase the quality of the photos, the opposite will most likely happen. Most phones (and cameras) use multiple images to create a single HDR image, so using it on moving objects like fireworks will only result in blurry images.
- Turn down your ISO. Normally, night shots require a high ISO. ISO increases your camera’s sensitivity to light, so having a high ISO while photographing fireworks - which are bright on their own - will result in overexposed images.
- Use landscape mode. When taking photos with your phone, it will automatically try to find something to focus on. When taking photos of fireworks, this can be a huge hinderance. Instead, switch your phone’s camera to landscape mode. Or, there are apps available for both iPhone and Android that let you change the camera’s focus to infinity, meaning you’ll be able to capture fireworks easily.
If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera or DSLR, you’ll want to follow the above steps as well. However, you may also want to manually control your shutter speed if your camera allows you to. By reducing the shutter speed, you’ll be able to keep the shutter open longer and your camera will be able to sense more light from the fireworks. Practice is key because if you leave the shutter open too long, you’ll most likely pick up multiple fireworks. If you don’t leave it open long enough, you’ll end up with an underexposed image.
Tip: Some cameras actually have a fireworks mode already set. Try it out and see if you get the photos you want. If you do, great! If not, play around with your settings until you find the perfect balance.
Use a Tripod
Whether you want to use your phone or a digital camera, using a tripod will help immensely. Since you’re changing the settings to keep the shutter open for as long as possible, you’ll want to minimize shake and blurring by securing your phone or camera with a tripod. For phones, you can use a simple phone cover that has a stand. For cameras, you have quite a few options. You can invest in a professional tripod or use a small, flexible one. Be sure to put your tripod on a level, stable surface when photographing.
Since fireworks are sure to be readily available this 4th of July, have fun playing with the settings on your phone or camera to find out which ones work best for you. Be safe this 4th of July and don’t forget to enjoy the fireworks!