Picture this: you’re at the most incredible fireworks display, doing all the appropriate ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ and snapping away with your phone camera like there’s no tomorrow. You’re already imagining all the likes you’ll get for your beautiful creations on Instagram, and you’ve even decided to print and frame some of the best ones for the kids. In fact – why not! – you’re going to order a giant fireworks photo canvas to put on your wall so the whole world can admire your skills. But your excitement soon starts to fizzle out as you scroll through your camera roll and realise that all you’ve captured is a load of pink and green blurry blobs. Know that feeling? Well, this year will be different! We’ve got seven quick and easy tips to improve your fireworks phone photos instantly!
One of the easiest mistakes to make when trying to capture fireworks is to keep the flash on (well, it’s dark, right?). Your pitiful phone flash doesn’t reach further than a few feet, and even if it did, it wouldn’t help you take better fireworks photos. Switching the flash off means your phone will adjust to take in all the available light to take a picture. And the available light is coming from… you guessed it, the fireworks!
To get the best shots of fireworks, it’s important to hold as still as possible. Slow and steady wins the race, so rest your arm on a railing, brace yourself and hold your breath. Of course, the best way to stay perfectly still is to use a tripod for your phone, such as the Joby GripTight ONE GorillaPod stand. Doing this means you can use an app such as Slow Shutter Cam, which features a handy light trails setting (but note: these apps won’t work without a tripod).
One of the main problems with taking photos at night is that it’s hard to focus. You may find your phone going in and out of focus as it tries to lock onto something, which is especially hard when things are moving. To solve this problem, lock in your focus. Open your phone’s camera app, wait for the fireworks to start, then press your screen right on top of the fireworks, keeping your finger there until the focus/exposure locks (this will take a couple of seconds). Then shoot away.
Your phone’s burst mode can also be helpful for taking fabulous fireworks photos. When you’re ready to shoot, aim for a pretty explosion, then hold down the shutter button (the button you use to take a photo with).You’ll take a lot of photos really fast, which you can go through later (there’s a counter that tells you how many you’ve shot while you hold it). This is a great way to create multiple images – and the law of averages says you should end up with some decent pictures in there!
If you find yourself at the back of a crowd at a busy public fireworks display and are tempted to zoom in to make the fireworks seem closer than they are, stop! The camera will capture more detail if you’re not zoomed in. Instead, try to get closer, or simply incorporate the crowd into your images – silhouettes of people can add interest and atmosphere, and give a sense of scale.
Although this may seem like odd advice, try pointing your camera away from the sky. Some of the best fireworks photos are captured in the background, so try taking a group photo or selfie in front of them. Close-up shots of sparklers, faces around a bonfire, the outlines of trees against the night sky… it’s not just about the fireworks, there are lots of stunning scenes to capture.
If all that sounds like too much work, there’s an easier option: shoot a video of the fireworks display, then screenshot a good frame or two later. When watching the video back, if you see a frame you like, pause it, and take a snap. It won’t necessarily be the best quality, but it might be the best way to capture the moment and still enjoy the experience without worrying about taking that perfect photo.
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