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How to shoot great fireworks photos with any camera

Dave Johnson | July 4, 2013
Believe it or not, it's fairly easy to capture dramatic and vivid fireworks in a photo.

Rather than simply capturing fireworks in the sky, frame the shot to include some of the landscape as well.

Capturing fireworks with a smartphone
Now for the inevitable question: Can you get nice photos of fireworks with a smartphone? Unfortunately, smartphones simply aren't equipped for the rigors of taking fireworks photos. One limitation is their inherently wide-angle lens; another is their inability to control the aperture or shutter speed.

However, with an app like Top Camera, which includes the ability to force your phone to use a slightly slower shutter mode, you can try to capture some fireworks. In doing that, remember to stabilize your phone, since holding it in your hand will inevitably give you blurry results.

Other tips
Once you get the hang of shooting fireworks, try setting the shutter speed to the Bulb setting, if you have one. Bulb leaves the shutter open for as long as you depress the shutter release, and it's a great way to make sure that you capture exactly what you see in the sky --you control when the exposure starts and stops. Be careful not to leave the shutter open too long, though, or you can get an overexposed mess. You can always review your last shot in the LCD display, though, to see how you're doing.

If you have control over your camera's focus, set it at infinity and leave it there. The fireworks will likely be far enough away that the camera will focus at infinity anyway, and manually making the camera focus at infinity will save you time and frustration. Fireworks and Landscape modes do this for you automatically; with an SLR, you'll need to remember to dial the focus to infinity on your own.

Also, leave the camera's ISO at the lowest setting--probably about 100--so that you can minimize noise, which will be worse than usual because of the long exposure times. Likewise, if your camera offers a noise-reduction feature, it's a good idea to turn it on.


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