Remember, remember the 5th of November…
Everyone knows the history behind bonfire night and how it all started with a guy named Guy Fawkes - but do you know how to take the best shot of a bonfire or firework display?
Wherever you’re heading off to tonight, be sure to make those 5th November images ones to remember!
The iPhone photography school has a fantastic article here with all the essential tips and tricks for mastering night photography. In particular they have some great suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls, such as:
A shaky and blurred image at night
This is because most camera phones will use a slower shutter speed to allow more light in.
However you can reduce camera blur by steadying the phone. The most ideal way to do this would be with a tripod or a clamp but we know that’s not easy at the last minute so just make sure to rest your iPhone on a wall, a rock, or any solid surface. Or if you are outside watching a display and none of these are to hand then how about leaning against something like a lamp post or a tree to keep your body steady (with care!). Another handy trick is to also keep your elbows held against your body to steady your arms.
The dark sky appearing too grey and grainy
This is because the camera tries to capture as much detail as possible, even in the darker shadows, by letting in as much light as possible to make the image brighter. However, this isn’t what you want when trying to shoot a perfect firework image– you want the night sky to be black and the contrast to be high so the colours of the firework really pop! To achieve this all you need to do is reduce the exposure (which controls the brightness of the image) in your phone's camera before you take your shot.
Open your phone's camera and start by tapping the screen to set the focus on the part of the scene you want sharp. Then simply swipe down to make the image darker.
You want the dark areas, such as the sky and shadows, to appear black or very dark. And you want the bright areas to have visible colour and detail. Plus with a lower exposure, the camera won’t feel the need to use such a slow shutter speed so the blur risk will be all be reduced – hooray!
The experimental shot
And if your images still aren't going right then how about opting for the experimental shot instead? Have a play with long-time exposure and capture light trails!
Images courtesy of Unsplash
As most camera phones don’t let you set the exposure time you’ll need an app that lets you use a slow shutter speed like Slow Shutter Cam to capture light trails.
Image courtesy of Slow Shutter Cam app and iPhone Photography School
You choose what kind of long exposure photo you want to capture (Motion Blur, Light Trail, or Low Light). And then you adjust Blur Strength and Shutter Speed to create the desired long exposure effect.
The app works by capturing a series of images in quick succession and blends them together to create a long exposure photo that captures the movement of your subject (in this case the firework).
Even though this technique is more experimental, it is still best to keep your phone perfectly still so that any objects that may also be in the shot (like silhouettes of trees) remain in sharp focus.
And finally, don’t forget that you can also improve your images after they have been taken. Night photography tends to look great in black and white, especially if the contrast is quite high. Converting to black and white also tends to be an instant fix if your night photos lack impact in colour as it instantly creates contrast and helps to make the focal point stand out.
If black and white just isn’t your thing then there are lots of great editing apps such as VSCO, Snapseed, Photoshop express and Whitagram which can help fine-tune every element from focus to contrast – they are all free!
We hope you have a night to remember and get some banging (sorry firework humour) photos!