How many times have you shot spectacular fireworks, only to have photos that look like a colorful blur? Follow these pointers to get good results – even if you’re shooting with a cell phone.
- Scope the ideal spot and angle ahead of time. Make sure you have a clear view, unobstructed by people, trees, flags or ferris wheels.
- Use a tripod. If you don’t have one, brace yourself against a rigid fence, a picnic table or another sturdy item.
- Avoid camera shake by using a cable release.
- Use landscape mode.
- Shooting with a cell phone? Don’t even bother with the zoom. Rather, crop your photo later, writes Mario Aguilar on Gizmodo.
- Turn off the flash, and avoid positioning yourself near external light sources – neon signs, for instance, or street lights.
- Bring extras: batteries and memory cards. You don’t want to run out just as the show is reaching its zenith.
- Set ISO, aperture, and shutter manually. “For fireworks photos, I expose anywhere between 1 and 4 seconds," writes Jim Barthman of the New York Institute of Photography. "Shorter exposures don't always capture the full burst and longer exposures tend to produce washed-out results."
- Frame your shot: "If you're in a city, try and frame the skyline or a landmark towards the bottom of your photo, showing the fireworks going off above it," writes Jim Fisher in PC magazine. "If there's water in the shot, all the better, as the reflections of the show in the water can add drama."