The Fourth of July is here once more and you know what that means: fireworks! While the past few years may have had fewer public displays of fireworks, it looks like things are back in full swing this year for most people. But even if you don’t end up going to your local firework show, you can always light up some safe and sane fireworks at home with family, too. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, fireworks make for some great photo opportunities. But what if you only have an iPhone, and not a full-fledged DSLR? Fret not, we’re here to help.
If you have a more recent iPhone, like the iPhone 13 Pro, then you have some powerful camera tools at your disposal. From a telephoto lens to Night mode to Boomerangs, we have you covered with these tips on how to take photos of fireworks with just your favorite iPhone.
Use rapid fire
Since fireworks are always moving and ever-changing while they go off in the sky, it can be difficult to capture a single good shot. That’s why you should take advantage of your iPhone camera’s rapid fire, also known as Burst mode.
With Burst mode, your iPhone is able to quickly take a lot of photos at once, as long as you keep the shutter button held down. Once you release, it stops capturing. iOS intelligently selects what pictures it thinks is the best of the bunch that you took, but you can also go into the stack and check out every single photo that was taken.
Burst mode is a definitely lifesaver to have when it comes to shooting anything that’s moving or changing direction, especially fireworks, so take advantage of it!
Try to zoom in
If you have a more recent iPhone, then you should make use of the telephoto lens for zooming in. While you may want to capture fireworks from a wide scene to capture the full range of the explosion, sometimes zooming in can give you something that’s fresh and unique. And using an iPhone with a telephoto lens means you won’t be sacrificing a ton of image quality to get those up-close shots either.
After all, everyone’s going to be taking photos of fireworks from far away. Getting a little up close and personal with a firework’s explosion or pattern (not physically, of course) could lead to a more interesting perspective.
Make use of Night mode
If you have an iPhone 11 or newer, then you have access to the powerful Night mode feature. With Night mode, the iPhone pulls in as much light as possible from the environment to brighten up photos taken in low-light situations. Basically, the shutter stays open longer to pull in that extra light. This can work wonders for fireworks if used correctly.
The only thing about Night mode is that you will need to hold your iPhone still during that length of time for Night mode to work (it ranges from one second to 10 seconds). Otherwise, you may end up with a bad blurry photo. However, Night mode is usually automatically set at three seconds, but you can also manually adjust the length of time for the exposure if needed. Even at one second, the results are pretty good and a big improvement over photos without Night mode.
I used Night mode to capture fireworks at Disneyland, and the results were pretty fantastic. So if you do have at least an iPhone 11 series (or later) device, give Night mode a try.
Get creative when editing
There are a ton of the best photo editing apps out there and even iOS has native editing tools built-in to the Photos app, so it’s super easy for anyone to edit their photos anywhere, anytime. For a lot of people, editing can be as simple as slapping a filter on an image or going deeper and making manual adjustments to brightness, contrast, and other elements.
But with fireworks, it’s a different story. I mean, once you see one picture of a firework exploding, you’ve pretty much seen them all. You’re going to want to think outside the box when editing your photos of fireworks — you want someone to stop at your firework picture and take a closer look, rather than just scrolling on by.
Some interesting ways to edit could involve overlapping multiple firework pictures into one, selective coloring (pick one explosion that keeps the color while turning the others into grayscale), or even clone-stamp one firework and spread it out into a kind of trail. The possibilities are endless here, it just takes a little bit of creative thinking outside the box.
Have you heard of a Boomerang? It’s one of Instagram’s most popular Story options. Essentially, a Boomerang consists of a burst of photos that are taken and stitched together into a video, which plays forward and backward in a repeating loop. Yeah, kind of like a GIF.
When you combine fireworks with Boomerang, the end result is much more appealing than a still photo. Just imagine it — watching a firework explode, then reversing itself and exploding again? It’s much more mesmerizing than a boring old photo.
The only thing is that you need to create a Boomerang as a new Instagram Story, in which the moment may have already passed. Instagram used to have a standalone Boomerang app but it seems to have been removed from the App Store. But if you tend to post a lot of Instagram Stories anyway, then maybe you can get the timing just right and have a cool firework Boomerang.
As you take photos of fireworks, you’re going to end up with a lot of similar-looking pictures in your Camera Roll. The same goes for concert photos too — no one really needs to see your dozens of photos that look like the same thing, just with different colors and such.
If you plan on sharing your fireworks photos on social media, then you should go through and pick only the best photos that you took. Ones that really stand out, are unique, or just look really cool to you. But don’t post the ones that are blurry, out of focus, or just bad — you’re not impressing anyone with those.
You can also make use of those 24-hour social media networks (Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook Stories) to post your fireworks photos too. That way, you won’t be flooding the timeline of your friends with fireworks.
Have a fun Fourth of July
Despite all that’s going on in the country, take some time this weekend to reflect and celebrate the good that is still here. I know it’s been rough lately, but it’s time for pool parties, BBQs, and explosive fireworks. Try and make the most of it. Hopefully, our tips here help you capture some good firework pictures and videos this weekend.
Updated June 2022: These are still the best tips for photographing fireworks with your iPhone.