Capture fireworks on your phone
Fireworks displays are awesome visual spectacles, and capturing photos of them are a part of the experience. Unless you've got the right photography kit or the appropriate smartphone apps, capturing good fireworks photos can be pretty challenging. Mobile tripods certainly help, but you'll still want to take over manual controls of your camera. Thankfully, a variety of camera apps are available on both Android and iOS with options for shutter speed, along with other settings that can help you take clear and impressive fireworks shots you can share with your friends. Check out these camera apps for taking fireworks photos, as well as a few other fireworks-themed apps.
Manual (iOS: $3.99)
Apple introduced manual camera controls for iPhones and iPads five years ago, but the Manual app puts them front and center in the user experience, with a number of features useful for those looking to take good fireworks photos. Shutter speed controls let you lengthen your exposure, ISO and exposure compensation settings let you brighten up a dark picture. An update this year made the popular app even more intuitive while continuing to support newer iPhone models. Of course, you'll probably want to take a few test shots first, as fiddling with the settings for each shot can be tough on the fly, and if you're taking shots with long shutter speeds, a tripod is a near necessity.
Camera+ 2 (iOS: $2.99)
Camera+ 2 is another popular third-party iOS camera app that gets good marks for power features and ease of use. It's a great automatic camera that can salvage or punch up subpar or adequate shots with the smart Clarity filter. You can mix things up further with separate exposure and focus points, a "digital flash" for clearing up dark photos, and more.
Slow Shutter Cam (iOS: $1.99)
Another neat option is Slow Shutter Cam, an iOS app which does exactly what it says on the tin. Users can set the shutter speed or exploit handy presets to take photos featuring motion blurs, light trails or simple low light shooting. Whether you're looking to shoot fireworks, or experiment with effects like light painting and motion blur on waterfalls, Slow Shutter Cam includes a lot of settings to help you. Apple Watch support and a built-in self-timer also lets you set up your phone in a stable position for your shot.
Manual Camera (Android: $2.99)
Manual Camera takes advantage of direct camera controls introduced a few years back in Lollipop's Camera2 API to provide users with near total manual control over their camera settings when taking shots. You can manually configure settings such as the shutter speed, focus distance and exposure compensation, allowing you to set up your shot just the way you want it. The entire point is to give the photographer as much direct control over the shot as possible, including the critical shutter settings for long exposures that are perfect for low-light shots of fireworks. (To see whether your device supports Manual Camera, check out this compatibility checker.)
Camera FV-5 (Android: $3.95)
Camera FV-5 is aimed squarely at photography enthusiasts and combines a feature-set and interface that mirror that of a manual DSLR. The app packs numerous settings within easy reach, such as ISO, white balance, focus modes and more. An intervalometer lets you set up time lapse photography and videos, while a long exposure mode lets you create low-light photos and light trails. If you love making manual tweaks, Camera FV-5 might be the app for you. Again though manual camera controls require the new camera API, which might not be implemented on your phone. See the Manual Camera compatibility checker again.
Open Camera (Android: Free)
Another interesting option on Android is Open Camera, a free, open source Android camera app that comes loaded with a ton of features and options, along with experimental support for manual controls from the Camera2 API. It's got a whole slew of helpful tools, from auto-stabilization, ISO and exposure controls, exposure lock, shutter controls, a configurable GUI and more. The open source nature and continuing development also means that the app's features continue to grow.
iLightningCam 2 (iOS: $1.99)
iLightningCam 2 isn’t necessarily built with fireworks in mind. Rather, app maker Florian Stiassny designed this iOS photography app to take optimized pictures of lightning strikes. But the same features that calculate ISO settings and use real-time recognition features to automatically detect lightning strikes also work for fireworks. (There’s even instructions on shooting fireworks on the developer’s website.) The result should be a perfectly composed shot of the sky, whether it’s filled with a lightning bolt or exploding fireworks.
Fireworks Arcade (Android, iOS, Free)
If you can't make it to a fireworks display, or can't afford to spring for some, well, you can still content yourself with a computerized fireworks display. Fireworks Arcade is a simple Android and iOS app that you can use to fire off your own barrage of virtual fireworks, as well as engage in a few fireworks themed minigames. An in-app purchase removes the banner ad.