The Fourth of July is here once again, so you know what that means — fireworks! However, this year may be a bit different, with many places not having public displays of fireworks due to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. However, you can still find safe 'n' sane fireworks available for sale at stands, and light them up at home as you celebrate with close friends and family. But what if you want to capture those explosive moments with your iPhone? Here are a few tips to help you get the best fireworks photos with just your iPhone.
- Use rapid fire
- Try to zoom in
- Make use of Night mode
- Get creative when editing
- Boomerang it
- Be picky
Use rapid fire
Since fireworks are always moving and ever-changing while they go off in the sky, it can be difficult to capture a single good shot. That's why you should take advantage of your iPhone camera's rapid fire, also known as Burst mode.
With Burst mode, your iPhone is able to quickly take a lot of photos at once, as long as you keep the shutter button held down. Once you release, it stops capturing. iOS intelligently selects what pictures it thinks is the best of the bunch that you took, but you can also go into the stack and check out every single photo that was taken.
Burst mode is a definitely lifesaver to have when it comes to shooting anything that's moving or changing direction, especially fireworks, so take advantage of it!
Try to zoom in
If you have a more recent iPhone with a telephoto lens (iPhone 7 Plus and later), then you should make use of the telephoto lens for zooming in. While you may want to capture fireworks from a wide scene to capture the full range of the explosion, sometimes zooming in can give you something that's fresh and unique. And using an iPhone with a telephoto lens means you won't be sacrificing image quality to get those up-close shots either.
After all, everyone's going to be taking photos of fireworks from far away. Getting a little up close and personal with a firework's explosion or pattern (not physically, of course) could lead to a more interesting perspective.
Make use of Night mode
If you have an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max, then you have access to the powerful new Night mode feature. With Night mode, the iPhone pulls in as much light as possible from the environment to brighten up photos taken in low-light situations. Basically, the shutter stays open longer to pull in that extra light. This can work wonders for fireworks if used correctly.
The only thing about Night mode is that you will need to hold your iPhone still during that length of time for Night mode to work (it ranges from 1 second to 10 seconds). Otherwise, you may end up with a bad, blurry photo. However, Night mode is usually automatically set at 3 seconds, but you can also manually adjust the length of time for the exposure if needed. Even at 1-second, the results are pretty good, and a big improvement over photos without Night mode.
I used Night mode to capture fireworks at Disneyland, and the results were pretty fantastic. So if you do have an iPhone 11 series device, give Night mode a try.
Get creative when editing
There are a ton of photo editing apps out there, and iOS even has native editing tools built-in to the Photos app. So it's actually super easy for anyone to edit their photos anywhere, anytime. For a lot of people, editing can be as simple as slapping a filter on an image, or going deeper and making manual adjustments to brightness, contrast, and other things.
But with fireworks, it's a different story. I mean, once you see one picture of a firework exploding, you've pretty much seen them all. You're going to want to think outside the box when editing your photos of fireworks — you want someone to stop at your firework picture and take a closer look, rather than just scrolling on by.
Some interesting ways to edit could involve overlapping multiple firework pictures into one, selective coloring (pick one explosion that keeps the color while turning the others into grayscale), or even clone-stamp one firework and spread it out into a kind of trail. The possibilities are endless here, it just takes a little bit of creative thinking outside the box.
Have you heard of a Boomerang? It's one of Instagram's separate photo apps, but it's also built in to Instagram as a Story option. Essentially, a Boomerang consists of a burst of photos that are taken and stitched together into a video, which plays forwards and backwards in a repeating loop. Yeah, kind of like a GIF.
When you combine fireworks with Boomerang, the end result is much more appealing than a still photo. Just imagine it — watching a firework explode, then reversing itself and exploding again? It's much more mesmerizing than a boring old photo.
If you're having trouble with figuring out how to make a cool Boomerang, make sure to check out our tips.
As you take photos of fireworks, you're going to end up with a lot of similar-looking pictures in your Camera Roll. The same goes for concert photos too — no one really needs to see your dozens of photos that look like the same thing, just with different colors and such.
If you plan on sharing your fireworks photos on social media, then you should go through and pick only the best photos that you took. Ones that really stand out, are unique, or just look really cool to you. But don't post the ones that are blurry, out of focus, or just bad — you're not impressing anyone with those.
You can also make use of those 24-hour social media networks (Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Stories) to post your fireworks photos too. That way, you won't be flooding the timeline of your friends with fireworks.
Have a safe and sane Independence Day!
How are you celebrating July Fourth this year? Are you lighting up some fireworks with family and friends? Have any photo tips to share with others? Let us know in the comments.
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