How to Take Photos of Fireworks With a Phone or DSLR Camera

The 4th of July is the ultimate day to see fireworks light up the night sky, with plenty of shows planned in and around Charlotte for the holiday weekend.

But capturing the perfect image of a fireworks display to remember your vacation is often easier said than done, even in an age when many of us have access to high-quality cameras directly on our phones.

Going a little further than just pointing and shooting can go a long way in sprucing up your Instagram feed.

Here are some tips from The Charlotte Observer’s award-winning photography team to help you get the most out of your fireworks photo shoot:

Invest in a tripod

One of the easiest ways to up your photography game is to invest in a tripod, advises Observer team photographer Alex Slitz.

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“A tripod is very important for your average photographer,” he said, even if you just plan to shoot with your phone.

“They do little clips that you can get at Target or wherever,” he said.

Pay attention to your settings

Making sure your settings are set is key to getting good photos, Slitz advises, especially when shooting fireworks, as changing focus and light can make it difficult to land at the scene. good place.

A “very low base ISO” – 100 or 200 – is a good starting point, he advises. And “you want to stay in manual mode all the time”.

“You can sort of adjust the exposure from there,” he said. “Anywhere from half a second to a minute.”

Even if you’re shooting on an iPhone rather than a camera, you can still play with your settings, Slitz notes. On many models, you can toggle “Exposure Adjustment” and “Creative Controls” in your camera settings and then be able to adjust more settings in your camera app.

“You have a lot more leeway on the iPhone, almost like a pro camera,” Slitz said.

Put more than fireworks in your photos

A good fireworks photo, according to Slitz, often includes more than just fireworks.

“Having people in the foreground, or a building…Here in Charlotte, maybe try putting some of the skyline in the foreground,” recommends Slitz.

Incorporating more elements into your photos will make them more intriguing, he explains.

“It’s not just fireworks, it gives context, and we’re going to get a little more interesting.”

truist_09.JPG
Fireworks light up downtown and Truist Field after a Charlotte Knights game in Charlotte, North Carolina, Friday, April 15, 2022. Alex Slitz [email protected]

Try a photo editing app

These days, there are plenty of ways to edit your photos after taking them, even just from your phone.

Slitz recommends the Adobe Lightroom app, which requires a subscription to access all the tools it has to offer, but notes that there are also free apps available.

A photo-editing app will let you play with things like exposure after the fact to help correct “if you miss it a bit” when taking your photos, he explains.

Take lots of pictures

Another key to capturing the perfect shot, per Slitz, is having plenty of images to choose from.

“It’s about experimenting with that type of image,” he said, “because it’s so unpredictable… Just let that engine rip and hope you get something that comes out. “

This story was originally published July 1, 2022 1:46 p.m.

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Mary Ramsey is a duty reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Originally from the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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