Not everyone has a professional grade DSLR or film camera and most people have ditched their consumer grade camera because smartphones have gotten so good.
Here are some tips for getting the best out of your phone’s camera when shooting fireworks.
1. Location, Location Location – composition is a big deal. Pick a location where you can get a good view and don’t be afraid to move around and try different angles and foreground objects like crowds, trees, buildings, but not so close to them that your auto focus keys to the foreground objects instead of the fireworks which could make them blurry. It might be worth experimenting with your phone’s landscape or night scene mode if your phone has one.
2. Turn off the flash – The flash will do nothing for you. The light should be coming from the fireworks, not the tiny little flash on your phone that will do nothing but light very little of your foreground and annoy the red-eyed people unfortunate enough to be looking in your direction when you take the photo.
3. Get some apps – There are quite a few camera apps out there for iPhone and Android that can improve your pictures. Some can increase the amount of time your shutter stays open, bringing more light into the camera and creating awesome light trails from the trajectory of the firework. Others can increase the amount of light digitally (ISO). Check out Angel Camera for the Android and Slow Shutter Cam for iPhone.
4. Stay still! – Little movements you make can make your photos blurry. Most cameras have a stability mode which helps, but nothing beats keeping the camera steady as possible. The best option is a tripod, but that might be cumbersome to carry around. Try leaning against a building or tree or car. To keep your arms still, put your elbows on your stomach and lock them.
5. Clean out your memory – to have the best chance of getting good shots you will need to take a lot of photos. Download all your pictures to your computer and delete them from your memory card before you go to the show. It would be terrible if you have to miss half the show because you run out of memory and have to pick and choose what gets deleted.
6. Shoot Now – Edit later – Instagram and other photo programs are awesome. But the time you take to add your effects, crop and upload to social networks is taking away time from shooting. In the time it took you to do all that processing you missed 4 fireworks. Experience the show before trying to share your experience.
Have fun and enjoy the show!