New Year's Eve is insanely hectic: There are a billion parties to pick from (or you have to make the hard decision to stay home in your PJs with your cat and a box of wine… tough choice, tbh), you have to spend time organizing and wrangling together intoxicated friends/family as they sloppily blow on noise-makers, and don't even talk to me about choosing the perfect outfit.
While all of this can be ridiculously stressful, capturing these moments and memories doesn't really need to be. You don't actually have to be toting around a massive DSLR at that gigantic party or stressing about your GoPro getting lost in the midst of midnight celebrations.
All you really need is your iPhone, some tips and tricks, and a big ol' dose of creativity!
Here are some different ways you can record and remember the end of 2018, while ushering in the New Year in pro photography fashion!
- Boomerang yo'self
- Slap a lens on it!
- #BoldBrightandBeautiful: Play with color
- Let there be smoke & sparkles!
- Try underexposing when shooting fireworks and sparklers
- Play with manual focus
- Shoot in RAW, or not
- Pick up a tripod
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Download Boomerang and start playing around with it, because you may never want to take photos the standard (boring), old way ever again!
The app essentially makes a 4-second video that loops instantly and repeats itself, and because it's designed mainly for Instagram use, if you upload the video to your IG account, it'll automatically loop over and over, giving it that incredibly popular GIF-able effect.
Boomerang is a really great tool if you want to capture a group shot of your pals, food being cooked, noise-makers being blown, confetti being thrown, and so, so much more. All you need is a little movement, a creative eye, and a LOT of good timing.
The other cool thing you can do is go to Giphy's create page and throw your Boomerang video in there to turn it into a GIF. Then it'll loop automatically, and you can easily send it in an iMessage or post it on other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter!
If you're at a party, there really isn't anything cooler than watching slow-motion footage of people dancing, drinking, interacting, and, well, partying!
Next time you go to take a video of the party you're at, turn on the slow-mo settings and pump the brakes a bit. You'll be able to see your night from a whole new perspective if you take a slo-mo video or two, and whether people are dancing like crazy, bonking noise-makers, bouncing off the furniture, or setting off fireworks, you'll be happy you're slowing everything down a bit.
Of course, slo-mo isn't for everything, and if every single shot that night is in slo-mo, you'll probably hate yourself the morning after, so try switching it up a bit.
You can even play around with timelapse at New Year's if you're at a place that has a good angle and you're not worried about your iPhone taking off in someone else's pocket.
Slap a lens on it!
If you haven't already, you should definitely pick up a lens kit for your iPhone. These little things are amazing for getting creative with your New Year's Eve photography!
External lenses work in a number of ways. There are some models that clamp on, some that need to be secured to a plate, and others that are magnetic or attach to an iPhoneography-specific case. Regardless of whichever one you prefer shooting with, there's absolutely an external lens out there that's bound to catch your eye.
Personally, I'm obsessed with fisheye lenses of any sort, but depending on the types of lenses you pick up, you can add wide-angle, macro, fly-eye, and other effects to your iPhoneography.
You can also shoot video with the lenses, which will not only make your photography stand out from all the boring stuff online, but it'll also take your Snapchat and Instagram stories to a whole new level!
#BoldBrightandBeautiful: Play with color
Take photos of bright, vibrant things against dull backgrounds. Take photos in black and white. Over-saturate the picture while you're editing. Photoshop out the color but keep the mustard yellows and reds.
Play. With. Color!
A lot of us get in the same rut when we're photographing and editing things, but it's important to recognize that combining different colors, patterns, textures, and editing styles can make for some really, really cool photographs and videos.
If you live in a place that's particularly snowy, try shooting off sparklers or playing with smoke (see the point below for more info on that) in the cold to get that stark contrast of white and color, or if you're at a party and there's little to no light, try fiddling with some left behind Christmas lights or glow sticks to make some really unique videos and photos.
In the same breath, playing with black and white is also a really cool idea and makes for some incredibly striking photographs (the black and white filters on VSCO really are a dream to edit and work with).
Let there be smoke & sparkles!
If there's one night during the year that's really appropriate to play with fire, sparklers, smoke, and things that go BOOM, it's New Year's Eve!
Photographing and taking slo-mo or macro lens videos of things like sparklers can be incredibly cool and striking, especially if you have a great quality camera like those in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro/Max.
Another thing you can do is head down to your local paintball shop and pick up some rainbow colored smoke effects. They photograph beautifully and shooting the smoke in slo-mo really makes for some incredibly unique, vibrant, and most importantly, NOT BORING New Year's photography.
In the same vein, try playing around and photographing with glitter and sparkles to give yourself some extra glitz for the evening.
Try underexposing when shooting fireworks and sparklers
You're bound to find some fireworks, sparklers, and other cool and dazzling objects when ringing in the new year, so make sure you photograph or film them correctly! You should definitely try pushing the exposure down so that the image is underexposed, because this way, the fireworks or sparklers end up with more detail and sharpness, and the motion "freezes" better due to reduced shutter speed. Your end image should be a darker background, but brighter sparklers, fireworks, and other fun sources of light.
Play with manual focus
In general, we should always have focused shots when it comes to photography. But with the holidays and New Year's, it's okay to experiment because the lighting usually can result in some cool effects.
You should test out manual focus in a third-party app, such as Halide Camera, to shoot fireworks completely out of focus (sounds a bit counterintuitive, I know). The fireworks should become abstract shapes against a dark sky background, which can be very interesting and unique. Bokeh is always surprising, isn't it?
Shoot in RAW, or not
RAW is an image that takes the image data from the sensor and saves it in an unedited and uncompressed format. RAW files take up much more space than JPG, which is a compressed image file and usually the default for digital cameras and iPhones.
While the iPhone's native Camera cannot shoot in RAW, you should look into other third-party apps that support RAW, such as Halide. RAW works best when there is a lot of light, so if you're photographing things like a lot of fireworks or sparklers, then you should consider RAW. It also helps reduce excessive noise in your photos.
But if you're in a darker environment, RAW may not be your friend. These images will benefit from Apple's default noise reduction for a more uniform appearance, at the cost of detail.
Pick up a tripod
Since you may be dealing with a lot of dark environments with a lot of various light sources, you'll need a steady hand to capture the best moments. But you could also use a tripod if you have one, as these help make sure that the camera doesn't move at all, so there's no blur (unless that's what you're aiming for).
If you don't have one, take a look at some of our tripod recommendations.
How are you capturing your New Year's memories?
Will you be picking up your DSLR this New Year's Eve, or will you be strictly shooting and experimenting with your iPhone?
Be sure to let us know what photography tips and tricks you have up your sleeves and don't forget to tag iMore in all of your New Year's Eve iPhone snapshots on Instagram @iMoregam!
Updated December 2019: Updated with more tips for your New Year's photography!
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.