How to Take Amazing Photos of Fireworks Using a Smartphone: 10 Tips

Smartphone photography is a convenient way to get great shots without being weighed down by a heavy, bulky DSLR. You might think you need a professional camera setup to get amazing fireworks photos, but the camera in the palm of your hand is good enough.

By using these smartphone photography tips, you can enjoy any fireworks display and get great shots without lugging a big camera bag around. Let’s cut to the chase.


1. Balance your composition

The basis of a beautiful photo lies above all in the composition. Fireworks are always pretty and make for great photos, but by experimenting with the principles of composition, you can take a photo from beautiful to amazing.

Most phones have a setting to enable a composition grid that helps compose your photos with the rule of thirds. This makes it easier to balance your photos by placing the fireworks slightly off center.

You can also use radial balance for more symmetrical fireworks like pinwheels. Get closer to fill the frame with the circular motion of individual fireworks.

2. Extend a single location

Location, like composition, is critical. If you can, determine the location of the event early to find unique vantage points. If not, learn how to include interesting foreground and background elements in your photos.

It is best to find a location away from the mass of the crowd. Otherwise, you might have a lot of distractions in your photos and you’ll struggle to get unique photos.

Try getting up high, which will give you a better view than other audience members and allow you to take unique photos from different angles. Getting up high also minimizes additional distractions between your camera and the fireworks themselves.

3. Use a tripod

Smartphones have near-zero internal stability hardware, and to add to that, when shooting at night, your camera takes in less light, making it harder to get a steady shot. Using a tripod means you don’t have to consider stability when taking photos of fireworks on your smartphone, as the tripod holds your phone perfectly in place.

Although most tripods are designed for DSLRs, there are plenty of excellent smartphone tripods available. In a pinch, you can use a selfie stick or lean your phone against a wall or object for extra stability.

4. Set a timer

Whether you’re using a tripod or leaning your phone against a wall, setting a timer can be another way to eliminate shaking from your fireworks photos. Most phones have timer options of around two seconds and ten seconds. Pressing the shutter with a timer gives you plenty of time to hold your phone steady or leave it alone, so it doesn’t shake when you press the shutter.

For the best way to avoid shaking, use a timer with a tripod. Selfie sticks often have a built-in shutter release, although holding a selfie stick can result in a wobbly photo if it’s not resting on something else.

5. Enable Night Mode

When shooting at night, Night mode keeps the shutter open to let in as much light as possible. Newer smartphone cameras have Night mode built in, but you’ll need to manually enable it to use it.

You should use a tripod when using night mode because you need to keep your phone as still as possible to allow for the extra time the shutter is open.

You can use the Night Mode setting to experiment with long exposure when shooting fireworks. While most phones don’t offer much customization for holding the shutter open, you can capture some cool motion by snapping photos just as fireworks explode or shoot into the sky.

6. Use Portrait Mode

Taking pictures of fireworks doesn’t mean the fireworks have to be the star of the show. You can use them as a fancy background when shooting portraits or other subjects.

Turn on Portrait mode and make sure the fireworks are exploding somewhere far behind your subject. Portrait mode ensures your subject is in perfect focus, and if the fireworks are far enough away, you can create bokeh effects.

Even if the bokeh doesn’t work, having fireworks in the background will still make for a fantastic portrait.

7. Use Zoom

Older smartphones may not have the best digital zoom, but many newer smartphones are built with internal telephoto lenses that allow for high quality zoom.

Using the camera zoom should be a last resort if you can’t get physically close. But you can zoom with your feet as well as with your camera.

Get as close to the action as possible while staying safe and in a good composition location. If you find yourself stuck away from the fireworks, digital zoom can help eliminate distractions.

8. Kill The Flash

You shouldn’t need to use the flash when shooting fireworks, especially when using your phone, because you can’t control the flash settings.

It’s best to turn off the flash and use Night mode or the ambient lighting emitted by the fireworks themselves. Using flash will white out any foreground and make no difference to the lighting of the sky itself; it will light up any flying creatures or dust in front of your phone which will surely spoil your shot.

9. Enable Live Photo Mode

Not only can fireworks be unpredictable, they also move quickly. Using Live Photo mode helps you capture movement as well as the seconds just before and after pressing the shutter, in case you missed the action.

On an iPhone, you can turn Live Photos into long exposures. Live Photos also make great GIFs for social media that will wow your followers by showing the motion of the explosion.

10. Use burst mode

If you have trouble anticipating when a firework will explode, you might miss a good shot. Using burst mode, your phone takes multiple photos in quick succession, making it much easier to get the best shot of the fireworks.

You can browse your Burst photos and select the best of the action. It’s a simple way to increase your chances of taking the perfect shot of fireworks.

Take amazing photos of fireworks on your smartphone

With these tips, you can easily create impactful and amazing fireworks photos from the palm of your hand. You no longer have to lug around a heavy DSLR, constantly change lenses, or figure out which settings are best. All you need is your smartphone and some foolproof techniques.

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