Saturday, July 4, 2015

How To Take Great Photos Of Fireworks Shows With Your Smartphone Camera

Today, July 4, 2015, America celebrates 239 years of independence. Sunset will usher in thousands of Fireworks Shows across the country. A few of the viewers will bring the appropriate equipment to capture these beautiful displays, but most will shooting with the camera in their pocket - the Smartphone. So, how do you snap great shots with these point and shoot devices.


First, all Smartphone cameras are not equal. The quality varies widely, particularly when shooting the night sky. No matter which device you use you will need the ability to set a slow shutter speed - long exposure shot. In most cases, this will require a special App. Here are three suggestions - one for each of the major Smartphone platforms.

1. IPhone (IOS) - Slow Shutter Cam ($.99) - will allow you to lengthen your iPhone's shutter speed. With both Automatic and Manual capture modes, Slow Shutter Cam is the closest you can get to turning your phone into a real, high-quality camera.

2. Android - Camera FV-5 ($3.95) - a professional camera application for mobile devices, that puts DSLR-like manual controls in your fingertips. Tailored to enthusiast and professional photographers, with this camera application you can capture the best raw photographs so that you can post-process them later and get stunning results. There is a learning curve, but the results are worth the effort.

3. Windows Phone - ProShot ($2.99) - Includes different modes such as Auto, Program, Manual, and two Custom modes, with the ability to manually adjust Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Focus, Flash, Aspect Ratio, AF Assist Lamp, etc,.

Now for a few tips:

1. Turn the flash off.

2. Try the HDR & Burst modes.

3. If you use a slow-shutter app, use a tripod. You can pick up a small Portable tripod like the GorillaPod that will attach to most anything.

4. Try to get as close to the action as possible - don't use the digital zoom.

5. If you are using Slow Shutter Cam for IPhone, pick Light Trail from the Capture mode, set your shutter speed to Bulb, and then manually start and stop the capture. For the Sensitivity setting, it is condition specific, so start with something like 1/16 and go from there. This should allow you to get the rocket trails and "blooms" when they explode, but experiment to find what works best for your particular situation.

Happy Independence Day!