It’s not a 4th of July celebration without fireworks, and it’s not the day after 4th of July without an Instagram feed filled with people’s terrible fireworks photos. Don’t be like those people. Take decent fireworks photos on your iPhone with these tips.
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This is all done in iOS’s basic Camera app, so go ahead and access it now.
Turn Off Flash
First, turn off the flash completely. It’s the lightning bolt icon in the top left corner when you’re in portrait mode, or in the bottom left/top right corner when you’re in landscape mode. Tap the lightning bolt, then tap “Off.”
HDR mode, or high dynamic range, quickly takes three different photos at different exposures: normal exposure, darker exposure, and brighter exposure. Then, it combines them all into a single image that appears more vivid and detailed than any single exposure, which is useful in low light situations (like fireworks time).
To turn it on, open the Camera app, and tap the HDR icon next to the flash icon and select “On.” You’re ready to shoot.
Use Focus and Exposure Lock
When you hear that echoing boom and see flashing colors, it’s time to prepare for your photo spree. Point your camera at the dazzling display, then tap the subject (the fireworks) on your iPhone’s screen and hold your finger there. You should see a yellow square appear, then “AE/AF Lock” a couple seconds later, which means you’ve locked the exposure and focus for what you’re shooting. Now you can snap away without worrying about the exposure and focus automatically adjusting on its own as the show goes on.
Adjust the Exposure If Needed
If you lock the focus and exposure, but think it looks too bright or too dark, you can change it. Tap and hold the sun icon next to the yellow box on your screen and slide up or down to adjust the exposure to your liking.
Shoot In Burst Mode
When you’re ready to shoot, aim for a pretty explosion, then hold down the big white shutter button. You’ll take a lot of photos really fast that you can go through later (there’s a counter that tells you how many you’ve shot while you hold it). There’s bound to be at least one decent shot from every burst.
Remember to hold still as much as you can while you shoot!
Or, Shoot Video Then Screenshot a Single Frame
If that sounds like too much work, there’s an easier option: shoot a video of the fireworks display, then screenshot a good frame later. Simply take a video with the Camera app, then watch it in full screen on your iPhone. When you see a frame you like, pause it, wait for the controls to fade away, then press the Lock and Home buttons simultaneously. Your firework “photo” will appear in your camera roll.