Eight tips for better fireworks photos with your phone
Heading out to the fireworks and hoping to capture some great photos of the action? Here are our top tips to help you photography fireworks.
Turn off your flash
Even though you will be taking photographs in the dark, the fireworks will provide all the light you need. Having the flash on won’t help your photos, and it will cause a slight delay in the camera taking a photo. This could be just long enough to make the difference between you capturing a great photo and a very average one. Make sure you have the flash switched to ‘off’ rather than ‘auto’, to make sure your camera doesn’t try to guess whether it is needed.
Keep your phone still
To get really clear fireworks photos, you will need to make sure your phone is as still as possible. You could try using a small tripod, resting your phone on a fence, or even just keeping your arms close to your body. If you find somewhere steady for your phone you can even use a remote trigger to take photos, meaning you don’t need to touch your phone and risk it moving at all. The headphones that came packaged with your phone have a built in remote release, and apple watches can be used the same way.
Avoid Using Digital Zoom
So you want to get close to the firework action and think your zoom is the way to do this? Think again. if your camera has a digital zoom (google the make of your phone to find out), the zoom is only pre-cropping and enlarging pixels from the photo. For best results you need to zoom out before you take the photo, and then crop it on your phone afterwards. This will give you more control of the final image and should make for a better picture. Some phones (including the newer iPhones) also have an optical zoom. The optical zoom uses the lens optics of an iPhone camera to bring your subject closer. Image quality using optical zoom is far superior to digital zoom.
Turn Down the Exposure
You may find that the photo your phone takes of the night sky is too bright. It’s easy to change the exposure on your phone. On your iPhone just swipe up and down on the viewfinder. To make the photo darker you will want to swipe down. Reducing the exposure will give you better blacks in the night sky and reduce the amount of noise in the image.
Try Out Live Photos
A nifty feature on your phone that you might want to try out when photographing fireworks is Live Photos. This feature records a tiny video of your image. After you have taken the image your phone will automatically select what it thinks is the best moment from the tiny video as the key photo. You can go back and choose a different photo if you prefer. To enable Live Photos, just make sure the circular Live Photos icon in the Camera is yellow, i.e., turned on.
Turn Them into Long Exposures
This is a bonus feature of Live Photos feature. After you take a photo, go into your ‘Live Photos’ folder in the Photos app, and select an image. Then swipe up on the photo to access the different effects you can apply, including long exposure. This effect will create “bright streaks across the night sky,” as Apple puts it, simulating a long exposure that you would normally expect only to be able to take with a camera.
Use Burst Mode
Another way of making sure you capture the perfect moment is to use your camera’s burst mode. To do this on an iPhone hold down the shutter button and it will continue taking photos in rapid succession until you let go. In the photo library burst photos are all displayed under a single thumbnail. You may end up with lots of photos, but you can always select the awesome ones you want to keep and let your phone delete the rest.
Take a Video
If you’re not getting the results you want with taking photos of fireworks, all is not lost. Try switching to your video. You can just take a regular video, and then screenshot the video and crop and edit the image as you wish. Alternatively, you can try out a couple of the other modes your camera may offer. You could use the slo-mo mode to slow down a firework, or the time-lapse mode to record the whole display in a few second video.
Fireworks displays in Berkhamsted
Want to know where to practice? Here are some of the local fireworks displays:
Saturday 3rd November
Berkhamsted Rotary @ Berkhamsted Cricket Club See details
Tring Festival of Fire @ Tring Park Cricket Club See details
Chipperfield Common See details
Sunday 4th November
Pixies Hill School See details