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Capturing July 4th Fireworks

tsuacctnt, flickr

As everyone heads out to watch their local fireworks displays, inevitably you’ll want to snag some memories of the occasion.

Now it doesn’t matter if you’re using a point-and-shoot digital camera or your cellphone to take pictures of the fireworks, it is possible to take some outstanding photos. Some may even be good enough to share, not only with Facebook and Twitter mind you, but share as art.

Digital Point-And-Shoot

If you have a point and shoot digital camera then it is possible to take your amazing artistic shots with only 6 points to keep in mind.

  1. Firstly, find your long exposure setting on your camera. On newer cameras this is often called the “night” setting. (It’s usually a little man with a moon behind them on the icon wheel/menu.
    Digital camera mode wheel
    Phil Nye
  2. Lose your focus. A lot of cameras have auto-focus technology that either cannot be disabled or is really complicated to disable in normal shooting. A solution for this is to switch your camera into “Landscape” mode. (It looks like a mountain or pair of mountains.)
  3. Some newer cameras will actually have a mode called “Fireworks” that will adjust your settings to take the best shots automatically, for others you’ll need to choose your own focus. (Estimate where you will be looking and where the fireworks will go off.)
  4. Stabilize. This is the most important step for photographing fireworks and is true for every night shoot. Regardless of how stead your hands are, there will be motion blur in your photos. So you need a tripod or monopod these can be incredibly cheap at less than $10 online. A second option is to use your environment brace your camera on a tree, signpost, fence or even your car roof.
  5. Timer. This is optional but can be quite useful. Most cameras have a self-timer setting. You will need to estimate when the fireworks will detonate but if the camera isn’t in your hands then there will be no blur from you when the shot is taken.
  6. Turn off the flash. There is no reason to have it on to shoot fireworks. At best you’ll receive washed-out photos, at worst you’ll capture glare from closer objects like trees, people, cars, power-lines etc.

If you follow these simple tips and make sure to get yourself a good view you’ll be certain to take some amazing fireworks shots with your digital point-and-shoot.

Cellphone Cameras


While a dedicated digital camera is still irreplaceable for photography the vast majority of people will want to take photos quickly to share with their social networks and often rely on the convenience of their cellphone camera.

George Frey, Getty Images

Despite the questionable quality of many cellphone cameras it is possible to take some really great shots of fireworks with just a few quick tips.

  • Get Close. The majority of cellphone cameras are significantly lacking in taking shots of distant subjects like fireworks. At distance your cell will make the fireworks look like tiny flashes of light. Get as close to those fire department barricades as it is safely possible to do.
  • Make sure you have enough room on your phone. You’ll want to have enough free space to take some practice shots.
  • Turn off the flash. Again, no reason for this to be on.
  • Be Creative. On the iPhone and a few others, the camera is very slow to process photos and lends itself to creating blurry and distorted shots. You can use this to your advantage when taking pictures of fireworks. Twist your wrist as you are taking the shot to create some very artistic ‘light-painting’ effects.

When you are out this fourth of July watching your local fireworks displays, make sure to keep these tips in mind and you’ll take some amazing fireworks photos regardless of whether you’re using a digital point-and-shoot or even your cellphone.

We would love to see your results, share them on Facebook or Twitter.

CNY Fireworks Displays

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