How to take a photo of a firework

It’s party ! And your municipality is organizing a fireworks display? You may want to immortalize it with a beautiful shot. Here are some tips for learning how to take a good photo of a firework, especially on a smartphone.

Do you want to take a nice picture of the fireworks, but you only have a simple smartphone? We warn you right away: this is not the easiest task. Don’t be put off though. Here are some tips to put the odds on your side and photograph a fireworks display in style!

With a tripod and good management of shooting parameters, it is possible to obtain good quality shots. In addition, do not hesitate to put the odds on your side by looking at our guide to the best smartphones for photography. However, this is only the beginning. Let’s try to list the important elements to take into account for a successful photo – in addition to a little patience, technique and above all perseverance.

Before unpacking our various tips, a simple little explanation is in order: why is it so complicated to take a good picture of fireworks? Quite simply, because these take place at night. The photo sensor thus needs more time to capture the light, which is rarer. During this time, it only takes a very small movement for the photo to become blurry. Not to mention the risk of ending up with a shot that is too dark or, on the contrary, too overexposed. You can consult our file dedicated to the operation of the photo sensors of our smartphones to go further and find out about the complexities of HDR and night mode.

First, let’s go over a few things you need to know for taking fireworks shots that apply to both cameras and smartphones.

Photographing fireworks: a few rules

The location

Choose the place where you take the photo is A essential element to take into account. Let’s break in open doors: you need a clear view, space to set up the tripod (we’ll come to that) and be sure that no one will come and sit in front. It’s stupid, but it never hurts to remember these few precautions. Good to know: the closer you are to the action, the more light the camera will capture and the better the photo will be.

Needless to say, the closer you are to the action, the more people there will be. It will then be difficult to find a quiet corner to avoid shaking the device.

It is best to be positioned with the wind at your back and above all to be far enough away from other light sources such as street lamps or bar and restaurant signs. In short, you have to plan ahead. Do not hesitate to go on location a few hours before the start of the show.

Very good stability

Taking a beautiful image of fireworks is already not an easy task in itself. So imagine taking a photo of fireworks without a tripod. The result would have almost no chance of being satisfactory. Use of a tripod is highly recommended. Indeed, the phone must be as stable as possible, and don’t expect to be able to keep your hands still for a photo. Unless you’re as frozen as a rock, you’re bound to move a few millimeters, even while holding your breath.

It is true that a tripod can be quite annoying to transport, but in the case that interests us here, it is almost essential. Here are our tips for taking great photos without professional equipment:

  • Stick your elbows against your body
  • Find a low wall or any other support to put your phone on
  • Avoid getting too close to your photographer neighbors
  • Buy a small tripod

Yes, even if they will not be as effective as large and real tripods, you can find affordable and very practical mini tripods that will do the trick. Let’s mention for example the famous GorillaPod from Joby or the Fotopro tripod for just under 30 euros which have the particularity of being very flexible and modular and of directly integrating the adapter to fix the smartphone. It is also possible to buy a tripod much higher, to pass above the crowd like the Amazon Basics tripods of 127, 152, 157 or 170 cm.

We can also recommend a monopod, but it is a little less stable than a classic tripod.


Otherwise, you can also turn to the best gimbal stabilizer for your need.

How to take a picture of fireworks on the phone?

Now let’s look at a few things to consider when taking a fireworks photo on the phone.

What photo setting for a firework?

To take crisp, bright photos of the fireworks, it is absolutely necessary to manually manage many settings such as exposure time, ISO sensitivity, focus and ideally support for recording in RAW.

To better understand the balance to be found between all these elements, we explain everything you need to know about the notion of exposure triangle which will be essential for you in this exercise.

Mistakes to avoid

For a successful photo of the fireworks, we recommend that you disable the following things:

  • the flash
  • HDR mode
  • Zoom
  • auto focus

The flash is useless as is the HDR mode and zooming in before taking a picture will destroy the quality of the latter, but you can always crop it afterwards. Finally, if some take advantage of the first shots to achieve the focus and then block it, we do not recommend such a maneuver: the autofocus risks being exceeded and the photo will be blurred.

What to do

A turn in the Pro mode of your camera will be necessary.

It is essential adjust the shutter speed torque (shutter speed) and ISO sensitivity. You can start to set the ISO between 100 and 200 then the exposure time between 3 and 10 seconds if you want to have all the traces and the sheaves. As a result, you will have to press the trigger button as soon as the rocket leaves. It is obvious that you will have to remain still during the exposure time (hence the usefulness of a tripod).

If it’s too bright, reduce the exposure time accordingly while increasing the ISO – it’s a balance to strike. Doing so will likely miss the trail left by the fireworks in its wake.

Finally, the ideal is to take the shots in RAW format unlike the classic JPEG format. Not all smartphones are compatible, but the RAW format allows greater latitude in the development and editing process. This format records much more information from the sensor, with little or no compression. It is then possible, with specialized software such as Lightroom, to make up many adjustments without loss of quality: white balance, exposure, shadows, highlights, etc. Handy for darkening the sky while making the fireworks stand out.

Also, if you don’t have a great smartphone for photos, you can always try using the Google Camera app. It won’t work miracles, but it’s worth the detour.

Some good reflexes to adopt

First, make sure to take as many photos as possible at the start of the show, before the smoke spreads all over the sky. If your phone offers a Night or fireworks mode, don’t hesitate to use it: it was created by the manufacturer for this kind of occasion. Finally, if you use a tripod, I advise you to use a self-timer to start taking the photo. In this way, you will avoid shaking the installation. Set your self-timer to a few seconds.

If you don’t have a tripod, you will struggle to take sharp photos due to the longer than normal exposure time. So try to increase the ISO as much as possible and reduce the exposure time significantly. Image quality will take a hit, but you might be able to get some decent shots. You can also try setting the self-timer to three seconds or less if possible. By doing so, you have a chance of preventing the natural shaking of your hand when shooting from being felt in the image. However, you risk missing the framing of the shot. To remedy this, switching to the ultra wide-angle may be a good solution. However, whatever your system D, we cannot guarantee the success of the operation.

Finally, if you’re tired of it, you can still film the scene with the highest definition offered by your phone – 4K more than recommended. You can then extract stills from the video that may look just as good as your hard-captured snaps. It’s a bit of the D system, but it can be effective!

A little creativity

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