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Ultimate Guide to 4th of July Photography Using Your Smartphone

This guide will help you capture some fantastic Fourth of July photography using your smartphone.

I’ll give you eight tricks for capturing the fireworks display, which is Independence Day’s most traditional but challenging subject.

Then, I’ll give you a few ideas for capturing this day’s spirit of patriotism and celebration.

Let’s have some fun!

8 Tips for 4th of July Photography Using Your Smartphone

The fireworks shows happening throughout the US are one of the most appealing things to photograph on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most challenging to capture.

If you want to take some amazing fireworks photos using your smartphone this year, here are a few tips and tricks you can try.

Location, location, location

Credit: Jeffrey Hamilton

In photography, as in real estate, location is key.

Once you know where the fireworks display will happen, you need to do a little research. You can use Google Maps and Google Earth to find the best spot to capture the show.

Remember that the best spot isn’t necessarily close to the actual location. Instead, it needs to offer you a great view. Maybe it’s a parking lot or a rooftop bar.

If possible, scout the spots beforehand so you know how accessible they are, if there’s glass in front of you, etc. Ensure you get the necessary permits if it’s private property – you don’t want to be escorted out just before the show starts.

Arrive with enough time to set up and grab a spot in the front row because many other people will probably be there, too.

Use a tripod

Stabilizing your phone is essential to capturing sharp Fourth of July fireworks pictures. If you can use a tripod, you’re golden. However, there’s not always room to set one up due to the crowds, or it might not be allowed.

In this case, a monopod or gimbal is a great solution. If you don’t have one, you can improvise by resting the phone on your backpack or a handrail. Sometimes, the solution is quite apparent, and other times, you need to get more creative.

Bring a power bank

After a day of capturing friends and family over a 4th of July barbecue or taking pictures of the Independence Day parade, your phone is probably low on battery.

If you can, charge it again before photographing the fireworks. Since this is often impossible, having a fully charged power bank with you is a good idea.

This way, you can be sure that your phone isn’t going to die on you midway through the fireworks.

Try burst mode

A large fireworks display lights up the night sky above a body of water, with reflections visible on the surface and buildings in the background.

Credit: Dibert

Capturing the exact moment fireworks explode into a myriad of dazzling, colorful sparks can be tricky.

This is particularly challenging because phones have a shutter lag, which means there’s a delay between the moment you tap the shutter button and the moment the picture is taken.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to use the burst mode. This mode allows you to take multiple photos in a sequence for as long as you hold the shutter.

Once you hear the fireworks go off, tap the shutter button and don’t let go until the explosion is finished. Then, you can scroll through the images and pick the best one.

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Save a video frame

Another easy way to capture the right moment when the fireworks burst is to save a frame from a video as a photograph.

Some phones have features that allow this natively. For example, on a Samsung phone, you simply need to choose a video from your Gallery. Scroll through the frames until you find the best one, then tap on the Capture icon.

If this feature isn’t available on your phone, you can download apps that allow it, such as Frame Grabber.

It’s also possible to take a screenshot – although this will probably give you a lower-quality picture.

Do a long exposure

Most native camera apps have a photo mode that allows you to control the camera settings – some call it Manual, others Pro. If yours doesn’t, you can download another camera app that offers this feature, such as Manual Camera or Slow Shutter Cam.

Once you have access to the settings, you need to slow the shutter speed. Lower the ISO to the minimum to avoid overexposing your photo. You won’t have the aperture to balance the exposure as you would on a camera.

You’ll have to regulate the shutter speed according to the amount of light. This technique is a bit more challenging than the others, but you can master it after some trial and error.

Try time-lapse mode


Many smartphones have a time-lapse mode on their camera app. Alternatively, you can download a dedicated app, such as Framelapse or Time Movie, that will give you more control.

Time-lapse is a technique in which the camera takes pictures at set intervals during a specific period of time. The phone then processes the images and puts them together as a video.

Apple Live Photos

iPhones have a fantastic feature called Live Photos. When enabled, your iPhone will capture a 1.5-second video before and after you take a picture.

Using this feature, you can capture amazing photos of fireworks from the 4th of July. If you missed the burst, all you have to do is go to Live Photos and choose the right frame from the videos it took before and after the shutter went off.

You can also create fun and engaging visuals using the Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure modes included in Live Photos.

Try them out, and if you don’t like them, you can turn the effect off and keep a regular video or a single frame.

4th of July Photography Ideas – Shooting More Than Just Fireworks

If you want to add some variety to your 4th of July photography, there are plenty of eye-catching subjects to choose from. Here are some ideas.


A hand holds a lit sparkler and a small American flag against a dark background.

Credit: Stephanie McCabe

Sparklers are the baby brothers of the fireworks, and they’re present at almost every 4th of July celebration. Make vibrant photos of them lighting up, or do a long exposure where you use them to write or draw (also known as light painting).


A table with hot dogs, potato chips, cherry tomatoes, condiments, popcorn, and American flags on a wooden surface.

Credit: Kateryna Hliznitsova

Remember to take mouth-watering food photos, whether it’s a barbecue, a picnic, or the traditional hot dog. You can also try some flat-lay compositions.


A classic red convertible adorned with American flags and decorations drives down a street during a parade. A participant walks alongside, and spectators are seated along the roadside.

Credit: Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flags, balloons, bands – there’s no better way to capture the spirit of celebration than photographing the Independence Day parade in your community.

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, you’ll have many interesting subjects to capture.


A man wearing a red shirt hugs and kisses a smiling woman in sunglasses. Both hold drinks, and are adorned with festive accessories. They stand outdoors with trees in the background.

Credit: Big Bear Vacations

Whether they’re enjoying the food, hugging family members they haven’t seen for a while, or having fun with friends, people making fond memories are some of the best subjects you can take this day.

You don’t need any fancy equipment – you can capture emotions using just your smartphone.

For more, check out these 25 essential iPhone photography tips.

Credit : Source Post

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