Skip to content
How to take photos of fireworks with an iPhone

How to take photos of fireworks with an iPhone

Independence Day, the fourth of July is right around the corner. With all the excitement of fireworks displays, you may be planning to attend a firework show and want to take great fireworks photos.  Many professional photographers would agree that photographing fireworks can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  With a little knowledge about your camera, your camera’s settings, and potential adjustments along with the pro camera on the iPhone, you will be prepared and confident to execute your photoshoot and accomplish the best fireworks pictures you desire.

The more control you have, the better. Camera types such as DSLR or mirrorless, which have manual functionality as does the iPhone, will be your best options. This is important because fireworks don’t have a constant light pattern.  You’re shooting at night with exploding fireworks and flashing lights which can confuse your cameras automated metering system. Manual functionality will give you full control over Apples amazing IOS powered camera app. Therefore you can get constant long exposure for your shots while maximizing the number of photos you can take. 3x digital zoom is also a great feature for taking pics and videos on an iPhone Pro, so even at a distance, your pics will have fantastic exposure.

Speaking of digital zoom and distance from your image, when discussing how to get the great fireworks photos you want, we highly recommend getting to the fireworks shows early so you can get good seats and a better field of view. You don’t want to get stuck in a long distance position from the fireworks display.

Find some perfect accessories for your iPhone which will get you the best photos for different scenes. The large amount of accessories for the iPhone makes it a great camera for fireworks displays and adding some accoutrement to your iPhone.


Camera Settings

We all want to be able to take high dynamic range (HDR) fireworks photos on the fourth of July. In order to accomplish this task, there are a plethora of settings on the iPhone camera that will allow you to take different exposure shots.

Keep your phone camera's field-of-view in mind. Packed with an ultra-wide lens, a telephoto lens and a 48 megapixel main lens on the iPhone 14 you have options to chose from. There are also Android phones with some of the great camera features as found on the iPhone. For example the Sony Xperia 1 IV 5G 512GB Smartphone offers 4K HDR native 120fps video recording on all rear lenses, 6.5” 4K 120Hz HDR, OLED 21:9 wide Display, live streaming for videographers and mobile gamers and more. Samsung phones have also come a long way in their camera technology.

However, as an iPhone user within the IOS software and eco system, there are camera settings that you may not be aware of, which will assist in taking the best photos of the fireworks display that you are attending.

So, what kind of settings on the photos app on the iPhone should we be exploring? Let’s take a look.

When taking photos of fireworks you may at first find your self in a low light situation until the fireworks display begins. The night mode on the photos app is unbelievable. When taking photos in these low light conditions, the night mode will slowly use the slow shutter cam and the shutter speed to allow more light into the image and lengthen the exposure time. With the Pro camera system (48MP Main lens, 12MP Ultra Wide lens , and 12MP Telephoto lens), HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps those pics and videos will burst with accurate color gamut and beautiful exposures.

When taking photos of fireworks, you may want to see the light trail of the fireworks in your exposure. A light trail photo involves taking a long exposure at when fireworks are passing through the camera photo app, which results in capturing an image showing the movement by light. Due to the camera capturing a photo that lasts several seconds, it causes every firework to create colorful light trails of the path taken.

If you want to take a selfie with the firework display in the back round behind you, you definitely want a good selfie stick to help ensure that your image will be smooth and you can maneuver to get the best angle you want. Here are some wonderfully priced and easy to use selfie sticks.

selfie sticks


Time Lapse

With the time lapse feature on the iPhone camera, you can take compressed video of your fireworks display, that happens gradually. The still images taken every few seconds in time lapse mode gives the impression of a higher speed video. Time-lapse is great for capturing scenes like a fireworks display that may take too long to watch at regular speed. Time-lapse videos are popular, especially on social media, so feel free to upload those amazing videos. Just swipe to the time lapse option on your camera settings and press the shutter button at your leisure. Want to upload your fantastic exposures to social media? Well, your viewers and subscribers to your social media channel will love them.

HDR Mode

Setting your camera app in HDR mode for the best high dynamic range photos. With the groundbreaking iPhone 14 Pro you can utilize the 3X digital zoom to hone in on those far away images, so even in your field of view of the fireworks display is further away than you would prefer, the digital zoom will assist you in getting the pics and videos with amazing clarity. HDR videos and pics can be taken up to 60 FPS for extreme clarity and great exposures of fireworks displays.

Apple Watch

The remote shutter on the iPhone’s camera lets you include yourself in the photo while avoiding the limitations of a selfie. For example, it allows you to take a picture of a wider scene with you included in the frame, which is ideal for landscape shots, fireworks displays and more. On the apple watch, the shot is taken after three seconds to give you time to move into position, but you can disable the time and control other camera settings including flash, Live Photo, and HDR by tapping button with three dots. You can then switch to the front or rear camera easily.

If you don’t have an Apple Watch, don’t despair. You can use voice control which is located in the accessibility section of the iPhone settings. You can even use Siri to take the image or video for you.

AF Lock

The AE/AF Lock feature is superb for getting amazing iPhone focus and having the camera app let the settings for your fireworks show can be automatically achieved with perfect focus and amazing exposure in your pics.

If you aim your iPhone camera at a scene while photographing fireworks, tap the shutter button, and the camera will decide which part of the scene to focus on. It will also set the exposure level.

However, to create the best possible image at a fireworks display, it is crucial that the camera is focusing on your intended subject or object. So rather than letting the iPhone decide what to focus on, you should always set the focus point manually. This will allow you to access the camera settings and knowing what type of exposure you want, you can manually control all the settings such as shutter speed, ISO amongst others and thus the exposure is finalized the exact way you want it.

Burst Mode

Using Burst mode on your iPhone camera which can take up to 10 pics per second to assist in capturing a moving subject or object when you want to take multiple burst photos moving at high speeds, so you have a number of exposures to chose from. Burst mode photos can be taken with both the front and rear facing cameras on the iPhone. However, it is important to note that taking many burst shots, especially in 4K HDR 60 FPS, you may run into storage problems depending on the model of iPhone you have and it’s internal storage. iPhones do not have memory card slots for expanded storage.

Several options are available to help manage storage. You can obviously delete any of the photos that you don’t want to keep. There is also the option of iCloud storage. If you subscribe to iCloud which most people in the IOS system do, you can store your photos there. So go ahead and take those great photos of fireworks and decide which ones you want to keep.

Apple Raw

Apple ProRAW gives you the information of a standard RAW exposure combined with the iPhone image processing to give the user additional control when making adjustments to the image including exposure, color, shutter speed, and white balance among other features. Apple Raw is available on both the front and rear facing cameras. Raw photos also offer a higher dynamic range for great photos.

However, keep in mind that Apple RAW photos produce large uncompressed file which take up quite a bit of storage and it also has slower write time slower write time down when shooting rapid sequences. This may come into play when shooting a fireworks display, depending on the speed of the fireworks show.

In addition when using Apple Raw you will need to convert to the file to a JPEG or TIFF on a computer before printing. Check your camera settings as, some of the conversion may be able to be accomplished with the edit feature on the iPhone camera app.

Final Thoughts

As we all know and love the Fourth of July filled with barbeques, family and friends gatherings and of course a jaw dropping fireworks show, you want to get the best photos and videos you can. Well, with the amazing iPhone camera with it’s three lenses on the Pro models, the features we have discussed and the ease of use, there is no better way than to capture a fireworks display on a smartphone than with your trusty iPhone. Being in the IOS system offers so many options for storage, editing and processing of your image. We highly recommend using an iPhone if your are taking pics of fireworks displays with a smartphone.


Happy Fourth of July to All!

Previous article Secrets to Getting Great Photos at the Beach
Next article Best Photography Tips for Wedding Guests

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields