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November 5, 2013

How to photograph fireworks, with Nokia Camera

Today, and every 5th of November, we in Britain celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, or bonfire/fireworks night as it’s often called.

While the celebration itself is a little macabre, with burning effigies and such that date back hundreds of years, most people just celebrate to enjoy the fireworks, food and to spend time with friends and family.

Why not capture the moment using your Nokia Lumia and the new Nokia Camera app? Here are some tips for taking photos of fireworks.

Keep very still

It’s fairly obvious that if you want to effectively take photos of fireworks you’ll need to do it in the nighttime, when it’s dark. This has some drawbacks when taking a photo, with one being that you’ll need to keep the shutter open for longer which will mean blurry photos if you’re wobbling about.

Depending on which camera phone you’re using, you might want to take a tripod. For example, you can buy the Nokia Camera Grip for the Nokia Lumia 1020 that has a standard tripod mount socket for an occasion such as this.


Or, if you’ve not got a tripod, position yourself so that you can stay as still as possible.

It may be possible to rest your camera on a table while you take the shot, or you could use the side of a tree or a fence post. Hold your phone against something solid to anchor it and stop from the gentle camera shake that you’ll inevitably have when holding it free hand.

With Nokia Camera, use the manual controls and set the shutter speed to anywhere above 0 to 4 seconds. Exactly how fast, or in this case slow, will depend on the types of fireworks and the surrounding light.

Take some test shots while at the scene and if the shot comes out too light, shorten the shutter speed a bit until you get it right. Some fireworks burn for longer, so having a long shutter speed could look amazing, as you’ll capture all of the burning cinders as they float through the sky.


Turn down the ISO

The higher the ISO number on your camera, the brighter the scene will be.

By default, the camera may try to compensate and turn up the ISO because you’re in a dark environment. However, a high ISO could introduce lots of ‘visual noise’ into your final shot, so make sure you manually turn it down.

ISO 100 is probably a good place to start. Experiment from there and turn it up depending on your scene.

Frame the scene


Do you want a photo of just a firework shooting into the sky, exploding overhead? Or, do you also want to capture the skyline behind it?

Have a think about where the fireworks are being displayed. If it’s in a tight space, photographing in landscape orientation won’t really do your shot any justice – instead switch to portrait.

If there are numerous fireworks being shot skywards and you’re sitting high up above it all, opt for landscape as you’ll hopefully be able to snap up a row of fireworks as the explode in unison.

Turn the flash off

There’s absolutely no point having the flash turned on when taking photographs of fireworks.

For starters, they’re way up in the sky and too far for the light to reach and the fireworks will probably be brighter than your flash, anyway.

Moreover, you’ll also increase your chance of taking a photo of clouds of smoke resulting in a less-than-impressive whiteout shot.

And above all else…


Be careful. Fireworks are dangerous, as are bonfires. Don’t get too close.

Enjoy the light show and hopefully you’ll have lots of photographs to show off later.

And don’t forget to share them with us in the comments section below.

Image credit: Ashley Warner, PureView1000