How to Photograph Fireworks with a Point and Shoot Camera or a Smart Phone

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 2, 2015

Fireworks CloseUp

With the 4th of July almost here in the United States, I was asked to write on how to photograph fireworks.  I know many of you are very knowledgeable about your cameras, settings and taking excellent photos.  So before I go into the “Tips” for Photo Taking, some tips and queries on being creative :

1 – ACTIONS – In addition to broad, full view scene of the usually broad, expansive and brilliant displays, do some zooming in. You might be surprised at what shows up once downloaded.  Then be prepared to notice how you handle the resulting photos… keep them as they are… apply filters… select and crop…combine with others… or ??? (See my post on July 5, 2013)

2 – QUERIES – In keeping with the 10 year underlying, “Self-Reflecting Queries” theme of Picture to Ponder – Photography and Transformation posts, I invite you to observe, as you are photographing, what it is that most excites you… colors… grandeur… sounds… quiet in between… the people around you… or ???

3 – FUTURE – How can you, then apply to other areas of your life, what you found to be most satisfying for you in the live fireworks photographing experience and then what came after with the photos?

The controls vary depending on which camera(s) you are using.  The most important thing I’ve learned is to keep the camera steady. Using a tripod is best. (See photos below.) If you do not have a tripod prop your camera on a solid surface…. car, railing, mailbox… In the absence of that take a deep breath and hold it, as you position your elbows tightly against your body. I’ve know some to prop their cameras on the steady shoulder of a partner.

For Point and Shoot cameras – Check your camera for “Scene” modes.  I got quite excited the year I discovered the “Fireworks” option as a choice in my Canon PowerShot SX10IS. The photos in this post were taken with my Canon.  If you do not have that option, use the landscape setting with 100 ISO.

You might also try using the “Sports” for taking continuous shots. With that option selected, you can then select the best.  I have also played with the video option on my Canon camera and intend to do the same with my phone this year.

For Smart Phones – There are Fireworks Apps for both Android and iOS phones. In searching for Apps my preference on my iPhone and iPad is to do the search in Safari on the device for [app desired] in iTunes…or Android in Google Play.
This is my first year with the iPhone 6 which I just purchased.  Even without an app, I plan to try the Burst mode, the same procedure on for both Android and the iPhone… Simply holding button in will automatically and rapidly take a series of continuous photos. Again, the best way of holding the camera steady is to use a tripod, or prop it up.

Tripods – Although I have a full-height tripod for my Canon, there are times I’ve used the Joby Gorilla Pod which I had purchased for my iPhone.




Bottom line to this post is “Have fun. Play. Experiment.”


Please share your experiences with photographing fireworks, or not, this year or any other year.  If you have photos posted somewhere feel free to share them in the comments below. Do include what cameras and settings you used.


Ute Goldkuhle July 2, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Sheila, your knowledge, expertise and talent shine in this post. Good to know about the apps for such photos. I would have never thought that they exist for these specific exposures.
Love the pictures; it shows that you know the tools to use to have bring out the beauty through your artistic eyes!

Sheila Finkelstein July 2, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Thanks so much for your kind comments, Ute. Once again, I’m reminding myself how important it is for us to see ourselves as reflected in other eyes, almost always far bigger than we see ourselves with our sometimes disempowering mind chatter. Thanks also for reminding me of my mission to empower others to see the beauty in their worlds.

Please come back and comment here should you start experimenting more with your point and shoot and iPad cameras.

Howard Siegler July 2, 2015 at 8:33 pm

That first shot is amazing…I imagine the tips are solid too! Keep up the good work Sheila!!! : )

Sheila Finkelstein July 2, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Thanks, Howard. Now the real FUN will be when we get you a little more into technology :), though this is not all that technical… Simply a matter of being open to “play!”

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