Every year I end up with around 20 or so blurry, crappy pictures from the Fourth of July fireworks. Fireworks are so spectacular I just want to capture each burst and sparkle on my camera roll! But, it never works out.

Well this year it's going to be different! I'm planning to get some great shots at the Amway Family Fireworks at Ah Nab Awen Park this Saturday, with these six tips on how to get awesome firework photos, shared by a professional photographer with Time Magazine

1. Turn off the flash

Because fireworks are at night... in the dark... the camera on your smartphone is going to automatically turn on the flash. Turn it off, otherwise everything over ten feet away will end up under-exposed (too dark). If you want to snap a pic of someone with fireworks behind them, try to find a light source coming from behind you, the person who's holding the camera.

2. Turn off the HDR

And now I know what HDR is... It stands for high dynamic range. It's a function that takes three quick photos at different exposures, then combines them into one image to make the lighting look better. Sounds like a good thing, right? But, HDR isn't good with fireworks because they are constantly moving, so when the camera goes to combine the multiple exposures, they won't match up. Blur-city is what you'll get.

3. Create a long exposure

Courtesy of Amway
Courtesy of Amway

"The longer your shutter is open, the more light gets exposed to the photo sensor," it's explained in Time.

OK, this is kind of a tough, because the default camera app on your phone probably doesn't let you control this. However, there are apps you can buy that will let you keep

your shutter open for longer.

4. Don't just shoot the sky 

This was one of my mistakes. But like, the fireworks are in the sky, so....? The article suggests trying to get skyline in the shot too, or maybe a person looking up at the fireworks, because fireworks just by themselves tend to be boring.

 5. Use a selfie stick

I can't believe I'm supporting this. Under no other circumstances are selfie sticks OK... but, Northrop says,

"I know people revile these things, but I actually like them."

He suggests people use a selfie stick to get unexpected shots, like getting a good angle over a crowd. He also says the selfie stick is good to use for stability, like a one-legged tripod to steady your shot, which is helpful in low light, because the more you move, the blurrier your picture will be.

6. Edit your shot

Northop suggests reducing the contrast and making the shadows brighter for shooting fireworks.

"If that washes the color out, adjust the saturation slightly, but not too much. And, of course, crop the photo for maximum effect."


They give us a bonus tip too! Shoot video instead! If you want to capture the magic of fireworks, seems like a good idea to just shoot a short vid. You can always pull a frame out of the video to make a still photo too.

I hope these tips help you grab great pics at the Amway Family Fireworks this Fourth of July at Ah Nab Awen Park!

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