Don’t be that person posting crappy fireworks pix on Instagram and Facebook, ok?
The worst thing about the Fourth of July is the truly awful photos that explode all over Facebook and Instagram.
We get it, photographing fireworks is hard. They blast off at night, far away from you, and it’s hard for your phone to distinguish between the dark sky and the bright light.
But snapping the perfect firework pic can be done. “It’s not an impossible thing to do,” Gary Hershorn, the photo editor for Fox News Channel, told Moneyish. “People do take some beautiful pictures with their mobile phones.”
Here’s his three most important tips to taking fireworks photos that sizzle — not fizzle.
Hold it steady. Rest your phone or camera on a surface — a tripod, a railing, even your friend’s head or shoulder — to avoid blurry photos. “Almost all bad pictures taken with a mobile phone have to do with movement of the actual camera,” he said. “Steadiness is everything.” There’s even $20 portable tripods, like this one from Joby, that can bend or wrap around a lamppost or pole if you’re watching from the street.
Avoid overexposure. Many amateur photographers wash out their fireworks by keeping the flash on, or brightening the exposure too much. That’s why you get shots of white bursts instead of the red, purples and blues that you saw in the sky. Switch to manual settings, and turn the exposure to its lowest setting, or even on night mode. “Touch your phone screen on the brightest part — usually the firework — which will make the whole screen go darker as the camera focuses on the smaller point of view,” he said. You’ll usually see a sliding exposure scale on your screen. Set it as low as you can go.
Time it right. Once you see the firework exploding in your viewfinder, it’s already too late to get that shot. “It’s really important to snap the firework at that critical moment just as it explodes,” said Gershorn. That’s the difference between getting a fully-exploded firework that shows colorful, straight lines shooting outward and upward in a perfect circle — and what Gershorn calls “droopy” fireworks. “You’ll usually see the trace of light shooting up before the firework,” said Gershorn. “Follow it, and then when it stops, start snapping so you catch it as, boom, it explodes.”
This article was originally published in 2017.
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