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8 Ways To Take Better Smart Phone Fireworks Photos

♪ Ohhh say can you focus? ♪

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Every Independence Day, pisspoor photos of fireworks flood Instagram and Facebook.

But this is America! We can do better!

Here are a few tips that will make your firework photos the ~best they can be~.

1. Turn off the flash.

"If the flash fires, it will capture the foreground of the image and take away from the awesomeness of the fireworks you are actually trying to capture," photographer Jonathan Griffith tells BuzzFeed Life.


2. Don't zoom.

"Zooming will lessen the quality of the photo," Griffith says. It's better to take the photo and crop it afterward — otherwise you will lose lots of detail, like in the photo above.

3. Keep the phone as steady as possible.

Simply resting your elbow on a table to steady it will help. If you really want to capture the perfect shot, photographer Hamish Robertson says using a tripod will really give you sharper firework photos (the one pictured above is $29.95 here).

If you have an Apple Watch, Robertson suggests using it to fire the shutter remotely. "It's a much more precise way to make sure you get the firework you want and not a great shot of a black sky in-between explosions," he says.

4. Try a slow shutter app.

"This will create awesome light trails as the fireworks shoot into the sky," Griffith says. "And of course, all of the previous rules still apply using a slow shutter app." Try Slow Shutter Cam for iPhone or Camera FV-5 for Android.

5. Get the right exposure, between the darkest and the lightest part of the screen.

Using the HDR feature on the iPhone makes this easier: it takes several exposures of the dark and the light areas of a photo, then blends them together to make an image where the darks aren't too dark (underexposed) and the lights aren't too light (overexposed). "It kind of takes the guess work out of getting the right exposure with the iPhone," Griffith says.

You can also tap and hold on one part of the screen to lock the exposure — read more about how to do that here.


6. Clean your lens.

Think about all of the places your phone has been, and how many times you've probably touched the lens through the day. That grime is going to do weird things to the light in your photos. Griffith says all you have to do is wipe it off with your t-shirt, though, and you'll be good to go.

7. Use the "burst" mode to take lots of photos all at once.

Natalie Brown / Via

"Holding your finger down on the shutter button activates burst mode — the shutter opens and closes multiple times — giving you a group of photos to look through for the perfect shot," photographer Brian Ladder tells BuzzFeed Life.

8. Practice! And enjoy the fireworks show.

Happy Fourth!