If you live in the United States of America, you will probably link this article`s title to the 4th of July – Independence Day. Locally, well, let`s say that we tend to fire them more often, as fireworks go in tandem with festas, making sure to keep us entertained through Summer.
The earliest pyrotechnics recorded in the world`s history go as far back as around 2,000 years ago in China. It narrates that people roasted bamboo stalks, which turned black and sizzled, consequently the air inside the hollow stalks would explode.
All around the globe people are captivated with fireworks, and with the dawn of technology, especially social media, many started flocking to their Instagram or Facebook accounts to upload their latest photos, proudly describing their snaps.
It doesn`t matter if you`re a professional photographer, an amateur or just starting, you are well aware that nowadays digital cameras, or fancy, bulky DSLRs together with their equipment/accessories, have been replaced by the more handy and straight forward smartphones, and everyone is happily clicking away.
However, while we agree that there are vast volumes of photographs being taken on a daily basis, they do not necessarily translate or equal to good quality.
If you happen to be a snapper who is also interested in fireworks, well keep reading, as we discover how to take superior shots via your phone!
As aforesaid, and in the majority of cases, our daily drivers namely smartphones are replacing bulkier digital cameras to shoot photos.
Today`s devices are more than capable of capturing decent shots; however, the high-end phones will obviously hold an edge over the others. Phones hold another plus too, that of freeing us from the unnecessary weight of DSLRs, if you`re not passionate about the latter that is. If that`s the case, no worries as all opinions are respected here, however let`s now focus (pun intended) on smartphone photography shall we.
In certain instances though, even flagship smartphones will have difficulties to maintain stability, although camera lenses on phones are being equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) which detects the phone`s (thus also camera) movements and moves the lens with motors to counteract it.
However, as we will see, there are still moments where a dedicated old school tripod will be needed.
Let`s go through the different techniques we are suggesting to enable you get that perfect firework shot with your phone.
Harmonising Your Composition
While all pyrotechnics are beautiful to watch, thus photos will be appreciated, however our ambition is to try and take superior shots.
Most smartphones nowadays have a dedicated pro section within the camera, loaded with a full set of features, among which the composition grid.
You can use the grid to centralise the fireworks in your shot, or alternatively put the colourful explosives off-centre on purpose, while including more scenery for example.
For more symmetrical fireworks like pinwheels, you can also use the radial balance.
Target an Exceptional Site
The location will be your photo backdrop, so it needs to be given its importance.
Here we have an advantage since one could ask around to check from where the fireworks will be shot, then plan ahead to find an ideal spot, an angle for the upcoming masterpiece, while settling down and prop any accessories if need be like a tripod.
Away from the gathered crowd is always best, less noise and distractions around you, more space to work, and the picture turns out better.
Try to get high up to acquire an improved view from that of the crowd, while also experimenting with angles during the display.
Employing a Tripod
We mentioned this earlier. There`s a big chance that your smartphone has an OIS, but if you`re in a midst of a moving mob or your hand gets tired staying stable for a prolonged time, well you can use the old faithful tripod.
There are tripods which are designed for smartphones too. Alternatively, you can use a selfie stick, or rest the phone against a tree, a wall, or the sort, ensuring that your desired scene is in focus. Then you can even utilise a Bluetooth remote to snap your pictures.
Consider the Use of a Timer
Utilising a timer for your shutter is a great idea!
Smartphones camera features hold a timer which gives you enough seconds (usual range 2-10) in between the moment you click the shutter and putting your finger back around the phone for steadiness, or leave it alone if its set on a tripod, or resting against something else.
This needs to be done fast in case of fireworks, so don`t set those timer seconds too high, however it`s a very good way to avoid any shakiness.
Many flagship phones hold a superb zoom which can take you closer to the action, use it!
Quick Look at Other Popular Modes
- Night Mode – Use this instead of the flash!
- Portrait – Fireworks don`t need to be your centre of attraction, but you could use them as a backdrop or setting, maybe mixing in even a bokeh effect
- Burst Mode – Take photos in quick succession to anticipate fireworks, capturing the perfect shot
The world of photography is fascinating as much as fireworks, and together they make an excellent and enticing concoction.
To be fair, not everyone agrees, as we must not forget our older, sick, or vulnerable folks, who are rudely awaken or jolted by the explosives. Ideally, we revise and manage to bound the amount of pyrotechnics or what material is used to limit the noise as much as possible.
For most of us though, fireworks represent celebration, happiness, colours, and freedom, uniting in common sensations those who are left in awe staring at the sky.
Immortalising such events is a unique experience, and when you acquire that excellent shot, you feel ecstatic and rightfully proud. Imagine if you manage to do such via a smartphone. Keep snapping!