How to Take iPhone Pictures of Fireworks

How to Take iPhone Pictures of Fireworks

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Fireworks on New Year's eve
A special occasion seems incomplete without fireworks since fireworks makes things even more special.

It’s not Christmas, New Year, or 4th of July celebration without fireworks. Think about this, you were so happy with the fireworks last night only to find out that the images that you have taken don’t just give justice to the beauty you have witnessed. Sounds frustrating, right? We’ve all been there. We know how it feels when you badly planned and badly want to post an image of the fireworks last night but you just can’t because of the quality of the photos you have taken. 

But really, how will you pretty incredible firework images with your iPhone? Is that even impossible? Precisely, yes. You just have to learn and master how things work with your iPhone camera and sure enough, the next time you capture fireworks images, they will all be Instagram-worthy. How? Consider the following tips. 

1. Disable the Flash

iPhone's back camera with a turned on flash
Using the flash when taking firework images will make the camera harder to focus on.

The first thing that you have to do is to completely turn off or disable the flash. Your flash is not exactly what you need when taking photos of fireworks in the night sky. Why? Simply because the light coming from the fireworks is already more than enough to give you the light you need in the picture. When your flash is turned on, the shutter speed lag will increase since it’s trying to work in sync with the quick burst of light from the fireworks. 

To turn off your flash, tap the little lightning bolt icon  in the bottom left/top right corner when you’re in landscape mode or in the top left corner when you’re in portrait mode, then switch it to “Off,” not “Auto.”

2. Enable HDR

Kuwait Fireworks Display
The HDR mode will help you capture high-quality firework photos.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range is a camera process wherein three different photos at different exposures (normal exposure, darker exposure, and brighter exposure) are taken very quickly. These three different images are then blended into a single image that is way more vivid and detailed than the normal exposure along. Since fireworks don’t really last for too long in the night sky, using the HDR feature will help you capture duplication effects, light trails, and trails that you can’t capture with your normal camera. 

To turn on the HDR feature of your iPhone, tap on the “HDR” button on your Camera app and then, tap the “On” option, not the “Auto” option. If an HDR option does not appear on your iPhone camera app screen, then most probably, your iPhone is set up to automatically take HDR pictures whenever iOS detects that it is needed. To change this, go to your Camera settings and then disable “Auto HDR.” 

3. Use the Focus and Exposure Lock

Focusing your iPhone’s camera at night is a lot harder. The tendency is, the focus of your camera might go in and out since it is confused as to where it should focus. The best thing that you could do here is to set the focus manually and lock it. To do this, point your camera into the firework and then tap on your iPhone’s camera screen where you want your camera to focus. Tap it until a yellow box and the “AE/AF Lock” option will appear which means that you have successfully locked the exposure and focus for what you’re shooting. To unlock the focus and exposure, simply click anywhere on the camera screen.

4. Shoot in Burst Mode

Sparkler sparks on a New Year's eve.
The Burst Mode feature allows you to take multiple images in split seconds.

A single shot alone won’t give you the exact image that you want. So, what you can do here its to shoot using the burst mode feature of your iPhone camera. With this, you can take multiple images really fast which you can check out later on to delete the images that are not within your standards. You might be thinking that using this feature will take up a lot of your memory space and could clog up your library. But actually, the images that were taken using the burst mode do not clog up your photo library. This is because all the images are combined into a folder with one image as its thumbnail that keeps things orderly.

To shoot in burst mode, press and hold on the shutter button or any of the volume buttons. Your camera will then automatically begin taking photo after photo at a very fast pace. Also, a counter will appear to tell you how many pictures you are taking. Hold still as much as you can while you shoot and then let go when you want to stop.

5. Keep Your iPhone Steady

iPhone on a tripod
Keeping your camera stable is very important to capture stunning images.

It sounds hard, but keeping your iPhone steady when taking firework images is very important. This is because the more steady your camera, the better are the images that will come out. Place your iPhone somewhere steady most especially when your hands tend to shake most of the time. If not, lean against something to keep your body or arms steady. 

If these options still do not work, then what you exactly need is a tripod. There is no better way to keep your iPhone steady than a tripod. There are a lot of tripod options there that are not really expensive but functions well. Using a tripod keeps your camera from camera shake since you don’t really have to hold your iPhone. Just set the necessary settings and there you go. 

6. Try Out Live Photos

Another feature of your iPhone Camera that you might want to try is the Live Photos. The Live Photos feature records a short video which you can access by firmly pressing on the photos with an iPhone equipped with 3D Touch. This feature also allows you to set the key photo. This means that if the key photo shows do not interest you, you can just change it into an image that fits your standards. If you are using Live Photos and HDR Mode at the same time, then only the original key photo will have HDR properties. So, if you ever try to change the key photo, then it won’t be HDR anymore. A bonus feature of using Live Photos is that you can actually term then into long exposures as long as your iOS is iOS 11 or higher. 

To use the Live Photos feature, you just have to make sure that the circular Live Photos icon in the Camera is turned on. You will know that it is turned on when the color is yellow. If you want to continue using this key photo during the entire fireworks show, you must check it out a few times first before editing the image. Afterwhich,tap-and-hold on the little white frame which you can see on the slider. This will show your original photo. Move around until you get the angle that you want and then tap on the “Make Key Photo” option and finally, hit “Done.”

7. Try Using Third-Party Apps

Photoshop logo symbol
Using third-party apps like Photoshop could help you enhance your firework images.

Let us be realistic. iPhone’s built-in camera is very powerful but it can’t do everything. With this, you can use third-party apps and play with them to enhance your firework shots. There is a lot of apps that you can download on the App Store. Each of these apps has its own ups and downs. It is all up to you to choose which of them you like best. 

But, always keep in mind that what you are taking are firework images. So, you might consider an app that really works well with fireworks. When it comes to editing, edit to enhance the image. Do not over-edit it as it just degrades the quality of the image. Keep your edits very minimal. Apply a filter if needed only and not because you just like it. Always see what is best suited for your image. 

8. Do Not Zoom

Zooming in is not exactly when taking fireworks images. This is because most iPhones use digital zoom which basically means that it does not actually take you closer like a DSLR do but it just blows up the image you are seeing. Given the fact that you are shooting at night, most probably, you will end up with low-quality images.

The best thing to do here is to get closer to where the fireworks are. Better yet, plan ahead and find out the best location from where you can take stunning firework images. Furthermore, consider nearby lights as well that might affect the quality of your images. 

9. Create a Foreground

Firework silhouettes on the fourth of July
A foreground gives your image more drama.

Almost every firework image on the internet today has the same old look. They almost look like each other. Now, the challenge here is how will you make your images stand out? Being creative is the key. Create a foreground for your images like silhouettes of other people. You can also try experimenting with different viewpoints and angles to ensure that the images that you will take are far different from the existing images. Keep your images as interesting as possible.

10. Set Up Ahead of Time

You will never go wrong with finding out where in the sky fireworks show just before you head out to photograph it. If it is possible for you to set up before the firework show will start with an idea about where should you focus your camera, then do it. This will keep you away from rushing and also takes you away from guessing just when the firework display is going on. 

The best position here is somewhere where all the smoke from the fireworks won’t come to where you are in order to keep an open view of the night sky with colorful fireworks in front of you. 

Wrapping It Up

Firework displays are one of the most beautiful things that you could witness on special occasions. Its colors alone bursting in the night sky already ignites the excitement and the inner child in you. Thus, every moment is worth capturing and worth remembering. Capturing firework images could be a little bit tricky, but with enough knowledge, right skills, and needed materials, you will surely rock it.

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