Watching fireworks with family and friends is a long-standing tradition on the Fourth of July. Once the sky begins to light up, everyone wants to capture the perfect shot of the display. However, not everyone is a professional photographer or has a fancy camera. Check out these tips on how to use your iPhone to photograph fireworks like a pro. Some of these tips can be used on Android phones, depending on the model.
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A firework only lasts for a second before disappearing, so rapidly taking photos will increase your chances of capturing the best shot. To take burst photos on an iPhone, open the camera app and continuously hold down the shutter button while action is occurring.
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Smartphone cameras have automatic features that adjust every time a new picture is taken. To prevent blurry or dark/overexposed photos, manually select and lock your phone camera’s auto focus and exposure. This helps you maintain the same settings throughout the duration of the show. Wait until the fireworks begin and then press and hold the screen to lock the focus on the fireworks. You’ll see a yellow box appear where you pressed and you can now adjust the exposure by swiping up or down.
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Even though you are taking photos in the dark, the fireworks themselves are bright enough to make flash unnecessary. A flash will also delay the shot and cause you to miss the moment, so you can safely turn it off.
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Taking hand-held photos increases the possibility of shaking, which can result in blurry photos. There are a few ways to minimize or eliminate this camera shake. The safest option is a tripod or setting your phone on a stable surface. If those options are unavailable, you can turn your body into a stabilizer by taking a wide stance, slightly bending your knees, and pulling your elbows into your sides. You can also lean your phone against a rock, railing, table or a backpack and use burst mode on a timer.
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There are tons of apps in the App store (Camera+, Manual App, 645 MK III, VSCO Cam, Composition Cam, Pocket Light Meter) that give you DSLR-like controls for your camera with customizable features. Shooting with a long exposure allows more light into the camera sensor, and playing around with the settings can create intriguing and beautiful photos. Make sure to do a couple test runs on some sparklers or similar light source to gain some practice before the big show.
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Taking video of fireworks may seem like an easy way out, but iPhone users get the best of both worlds with video mode - users can both record and take snaps at the same time. The shutter button appears to the left of the record button once recording starts. With this technique, you can capture a beautiful still and have video as a nice backup, too. You can also go into the video, pause it at the perfect moment, and take a screenshot of the image. A short 5-15 second clip of the show can also be an interesting social media post instead of a still image.
There are plenty of professional firework photos on the internet, and after July 4th, social media will be swarmed with pictures of the different shows friends and family went to. Have your photos stand out from your friends’ with some unique touches: include your family, friends and nearby landmarks for a truly personal touch to your snapshots. Use a timer and tripod to take photos of yourself and a significant other in front of the show, or look for places other people won’t think of watching the fireworks from.
iPhones include basic in-camera editing functions that can enhance your photos. A good place to start includes lightening shadows and increasing the saturation. Make sure to play around with different angles and composition and try adjusting the highlights and contrast too.