So you’re going to try to shoot pictures and videos of fireworks again this year? If you’re planning to use a smartphone, you probably know how it’s going to turn out. Not so good.
Fireworks are some of the most difficult things to capture with a smartphone camera. Bright flashes of colored lights, smoke, and darkness present a challenge with the small sensors in phones.
As Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, and other manufacturers have drastically improved their cameras and lenses in the past few years, it’s become easier to get pretty decent photos and videos. They can look better if you pay attention to a few settings.
Here are some tips to capture the best possible photos and videos of fireworks with a phone camera.
- Put the phone on a tripod. No matter how steady you think you can hold a phone, a tripod will make the shots better. It also frees up your hands to change settings.
- Turn off the flash. Most of us have the flash set to turn on automatically as the camera detects darkness. Light from the flash can bounce off other people or objects around you and make any videos or photos terrible.
- Set and lock exposure and focus. This prevents the camera from adjusting from shooting the fireworks to focusing on smoke. Tap and hold the screen on a bright light from a firework until it locks the setting.
- Turn on night mode. Recent iPhones turn on night mode when it detects darkness but fireworks might be bright enough to turn it off.
- Make sure Live Mode is turned on (iPhone). This records a few frames before and after you tap the shutter button. You’ll be able to scrub the photo file later and select the best frame.
- Shoot with more than one camera. Newer smartphones have at least three lenses. Shoot a few in .5, 1, 2, and 3.
- Shoot the show in Timelapse mode for a few minutes.
- Third-party pro camera apps give you control over manual settings. Pro Camera+, Moment and Filmic Pro are some of the more popular camera apps for iPhone and Android devices.
- Experiment. You’ll probably try to shoot fireworks next year too. Pay attention to what works and which setting results in the best photos and videos.
If you have an older phone that doesn’t take great photos even with lots of light, just sit back and enjoy the show.
— Jamey Tucker / What The Tech?