5 Tips for Taking Better Fireworks Photos with iPhone
Heading out to watch a fireworks show (it is the 4th of July you know) and plan to use your iPhone as your primary camera? Be sure to use these five tricks for taking the best possible fireworks pictures with your iPhone… it’s not quite a DSLR, but with some proper technique you can still capture great firework images with the iPhone.
1: Enable HDR & Keep Original Version
HDR takes multiple photos at different exposures, then automatically combines them together into a single image using software. For shooting something like fireworks, HDR can be particularly advantageous because the different exposure images often capture light-trails and other details that a single image may not capture.
Turning HDR on is easy, once you’re in the Camera app just tap on the “HDR Off” button until it’s highlighted in yellow and says “HDR On”.
You’ll also want to keep the original picture because it lets you determine which is the best image to keep. If the HDR version is crummy, ditch it and keep the original, or vice versa. If you turned that feature off, just turn it back on again: Settings > Photos & Camera > Keep Normal Photo
2: Use Exposure Lock for Optimal Lighting
Once you get a picture or two that you’re happy with, use Exposure Lock to lock in the exposure details so that your future fireworks shots will come out just as good.
Exposure Lock is super easy to enable, just tap and hold on the camera screen in the region where you want to lock the exposure and lighting to. You’ll know it’s on when “AE/AF LOCK” appears at the top of the Camera screen in yellow.
Using Exposure Lock also locks the focus, which for shooting distant objects doesn’t matter quite as much, but as of now there’s no way to lock exposure separately from focus.
3: Take Many Pictures & Shoot Often
Shooting often is the dirty secret of most professional digital photographers, they make take 100 pictures and only keep a handful that turned out particularly great. You can apply that same theory to your iPhone shots when capturing tricky lighting situations like fireworks. There’s not much to this, so just take a lot of pictures with HDR, and later in the evening when the firework show is over you can go through and cull the images you don’t want anymore.
4: Try Burst Mode
iPhone Burst Mode takes many photos in rapid succession, which is great for moving objects. Sometimes this can work well with fireworks too, so try it out. It’s easy to use, just hold down the Camera button to shoot photos in bursts. This is sort of a variation of the above trick, which is to shoot a lot of pictures. You’ll want to
Optional: Try Slow Shutter Cam
SlowShutterCam is a third party app that allows you to take light trail and motion blur images by leaving the iPhone lens ‘open’ like a traditional camera. Slow Shutter Cam works surprisingly well, but for best results you’ll want to keep the iPhone very still, either using a tripod (yes they make mini-tripods for the iPhone) or by improvising and leaning the iPhone against an object like a picnic table or an upside down hotdog bun.
Whatever you use and whatever you try, have fun out there! Enjoy the fireworks!
- Run out of storage in the middle of the show? Use this workaround to keep shooting photos even when the Camera tells you the iPhone doesn’t have enough storage
- Join your burst mode photos together into animated GIFS, right on your iPhone if you capture a great sequence of a bursting firework display
- Shooting with an iPad instead? Access the iPad camera from the lock screen with Siri