Every July like clockwork, we offer you tips on how to get great shots of fireworks for your Independence Day celebrations.   



fireworks in the sky: Fireworks, shot on iPhone 8 Plus


© Jefferson Graham
Fireworks, shot on iPhone 8 Plus

This year, as we all know, is radically different. We’re not supposed to congregate in crowds during a pandemic, and most cities have canceled their firework shows. 

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But not all. Washington D.C., for example, still plans to go ahead with its annual fireworks festivities, and in many other places, the show will still go on. 

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Most of you reading will want to get shots on your smartphone, so I’ve got a few basi tips for you. 

The easiest: shoot a video, and you’ll miss nothing. Then take a frame grab or screen shot of the best moment later if you want a still image. (This couldn’t be easier. Just pause the video, and the two top side buttons on recent iPhones, or power and volume button on recent Samsung Galaxy phones.)

The photo directly below was photographed, in video mode, on an iPhone 8 Plus, and captured as a still frame, via the screenshot process. 

Try burst mode

Fireworks are tough. They fly across your screen fast and are hard to capture. Who you gonna call? Burst mode, which lets you shoot multiple images in rapid succession.

To do this, slide the shutter button quickly to the left on recent iPhones and you’ll hear the shutter start to rapid fire. The same technique works on current Samsung Galaxy models.  

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Use time-lapse mode

Finally, if you want to be the coolest person on your block, try shooting the fireworks in time-lapse mode and watch the world fly by at super high speeds. You can’t do it without a tripod though. Mount the camera, click the timelapse button and let it roll the entire time.  

Not using a smartphone? Grab a tripod

If you’re shooting on a camera, photographer Rick Sammon, recommends using a tripod and a very slow shutter speed. His recipe: exposure at f/11 and shutter speed at 2 seconds to get the colors exploding in the sky. 

And as always, take lots and lots of photos. Fireworks are fast, they explode in the sky and change colors instantly, and digital costs nothing, so shoot away. You can delete all the duds when you get home.

We end with our best tip of all: This year, stay safe, skip the crowds, and if you need to see fireworks, watch them on TV or YouTube. Better yet, many fireworks ceremonies will be postponed for later in the year. So hold these tips in your pocket and get your best shots later on.

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: With your smartphone, you can capture great photographs of fireworks. Here’s how.

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