How to take Instaworthy fireworks pics with your iPhone

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Despite the severe drought spread throughout the Midwest and western U.S., fireworks displays are still set to take place this weekend for Independence Day celebrations.

Whether you’re packing up your family and heading to the grandstands to watch a show put on by professionals or lighting your own fireworks, pictures never seem to look as good on screen as they did in the sky.

So what is the best way to capture those red, white and blue memories?

KELOLAND News compiled a list of tips and tricks from Fireworks.com, Nikonusa.com and some of our very own news photographers to help you get the best pictures for your photo albums and Instagram feed.

1. Use a tripod

Both Fireworks.com and Nikon say a tripod is essential for taking pictures of fireworks. Using a tripod eliminates shaky hands, which leads to blurry pictures. But if you don’t own a tripod or don’t want to invest in one, you can make yourself into a “human tripod.”

The first step to becoming a human tripod is to stabilize yourself against something. For example, rest your elbows on something that’s at a comfortable level.

Digital Photography School’s website suggests trying out different positions to find what’s most comfortable. They suggest crouching down and putting your elbows on your knees or laying on your stomach and resting your arms on the ground.

Imagine yourself as a triangle, and your camera is the top point. As long as you’re stabilized and able to hold steady, you should see some changes in the quality of your photos.

2. Turn flash off

Whether you’re using a phone or a DSLR camera, make sure the flash is turned off. Flashes are typically used to light up objects a few feet in from of you, Fireworks.com says. If your phone is equipped with it, use HDR mode. This mode allows you to take pictures with different exposure levels and combines pictures to create a more vivid image.

3. Hold your phone horizontally

Holding your phone horizontally in landscape mode gives you a wider image. This format is more user friendly, and allows you to use the image on multiple platforms. Remember to, “Shoot it wide, side to side.”

4. Don’t use zoom

Fireworks.com says using the digital zoom on your phone’s camera can sometimes diminish the quality of your photos. They note that you can always go back and crop the image to cut out hands, trees or other objects in the way.

5. The less exposure, the better

Exposure is the brightness of the photo. If you decrease the exposure, you’ll be able to take a picture of fireworks without it looking too bright or overexposed. If you’re using your phone, tap the screen and it will automatically adjust the exposure. With most phones, if you tap the screen, a sun will appear and you can drag up or down to change the exposure. You’ll want to drag down.

6. Experiment

As the sun goes down and the excitement builds for the big show, experiment with what works best for you. Make sure you are in a spot with a clear view of the sky.

Fireworks.com suggests experimenting with the live picture and burst modes. If you hold down the button to take the picture, it’ll take multiple images.


If all else fails, start a video of the fireworks display. You can take screenshots during the video to find the best, showstopping explosions.

Newer cell phones let you shoot stills at the same time as video by clicking the white shutter button as you record. However, experts don’t recommend this option because tapping the shutter button may make your video shaky or blurry.

And last but not least, remember to be safe this Fourth of July. Fire experts say it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. They say how you end your celebration is crucial.

“You need to properly dispose of fireworks before throwing them in the trash and how you do that is we ask you to soak them overnight in a pail of water. And then the next day, wrap them up in some plastic so they don’t dry out, and then dispose of them into your ordinary combustible garbage,” Tyler Tjeerdsma, fire inspector with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, said.

It’s those simple steps that could prevent your holiday from ending in disaster.


We can’t wait to see the snapshots you take during the holiday weekend! Share your photos with uShare@KELOLAND.com. We’ll start a gallery online and they may even be used on-air.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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