OnQ Blog

How to Capture Fireworks with your Smartphone Camera

Jul 3, 2012

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

I only get to see fireworks once a year, the anticipation and action makes it one of my favorite things to photograph.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the trickiest events to photograph.  If you want to capture sharp images with your smartphone, here are a few tips to help make sure the come out colorful and blur-free. 

A tripod or a makeshift tripod is an absolute must.  Your smartphone camera’s image sensor will be capturing light for a few seconds so your picture has the trail of light and the bright explosion.  Trying to hold your hand steady while this is happening is nearly impossible; the slightest movement will make the image come out blurry.  Rest the smartphone on something steady or pick up an inexpensive tripod made for smartphones.

In the settings menu of the camera app on your smartphone, apply the following settings:

  • Turn the flash off (you want to capture the natural light and colors of the fireworks)
  • Set focus to infinity (you want to capture the fireworks that are in the distance)
  • Set timer to at least 2 seconds (you want the camera to fire on its own so you don’t inject camera shake when hitting the touchscreen)

 A tripod coupled with these settings will give you you’re the best chance of capturing sharp images of fireworks.  Also, if you find that the colors of the fireworks aren’t bright enough, go into the camera settings, find “exposure” and increase this setting. 

If you’re a more experienced photographer and have a standalone camera, keep in mind you might be able to use your smartphone as a remote control and a portable monitor.  DSLR Controller app allows you to plug your Android phone into your Canon DLSR with a USB cable. Once connected you can control the setting and capture photos.  Samsung also offers a few compact cameras that can be controlled wirelessly via Android apps.  If you use a DSLR or compact camera, these typically have more manual shooting options than smartphones; set your camera to “manual” and use the following settings:

  • Set “ISO” to 100.
  • Set “aperture” to any value between f/7 and f/22 (play around)
  • Set “shutter speed” to any value between 2 seconds and longer (play around)

 Happy shooting and happy fourth!

Engage with us on


Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

PJ Jacobowitz

Staff Manager, Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies