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Tips for photographing fireworks on a smartphone

Thursday - 7/4/2013, 4:19pm  ET

Ken Colburn, data doctors

How to get good firework photos on your smartphone

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WASHINGTON - Seeing the fireworks go off on Independence Day can evoke a lot of emotion, and naturally, many people try and snap a picture with their smartphone.

Technology expert and Data Doctors founder Ken Colburn has tips on the best strategy for capturing the fireworks on your phone. It's all about knowing your device, planning ahead and maybe using a photo app to take the shot.

"If you have a true digital camera that has a fireworks mode, you're going to probably have a much better chance," Colburn says. But if you're taking a photo with a phone, start with stabilizing it.

"You've got to keep whatever it is really still ... You can actually get tripods for smartphones. Or if you're not going to have a tripod, find a wall, a chair, a tree, something where you can stabilize the camera itself when you're taking the pictures. That one thing will make all the difference in the world," Colburn says.

Don't use a flash when photographing fireworks, Colburn says. And try focusing beforehand.

"Most smartphones you can tap on the screen to tell the screen where to focus. So let one go off, tap it to focus, so that it's ready to go. Then when the next one goes off, you should be able to get a clearer shot from a focus standpoint," he says.

Also, try and take the photo from farther back, not from underneath the fireworks show.

There are apps that might help out as well. On Androids, the Night Camera app and for iPhones, Colburn recommends the Light Bomber app.

"(They) extend the field of focus and open up the exposure for longer, which captures more light," Colburn says. That can be helpful when photographing bright bursts of light.

Here are some attempts at photographing fireworks shared on Twitter:

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