You are tempted to just hold up your phone to the dark sky and snap an image of the fireworks as they are bursting. And then you look at them and they are perhaps blobs of bright lights.

It’s not the easiest thing to replicate a full-frame camera on a tripod with a slow shutter speed, but you can get better images out of the recent cell phones. Here are some quick notes:

1)   Hold your phone in a vertical position so that you can get the most out of the entire scene.

2)   Get down low and include something in the foreground…..people, boats, buildings……to give the scene more interest and context and to leave some space to crop for Instagram.

3)   Night mode.

4)   Normal lens… wide angle

5)   There’s a lag from the time you press the button till the image is actually taken, so practice timing it just before the fireworks burst.

6)   If the fireworks look too bright, make the adjustment by darkening with the arrow and box in the center of the frame.

7)   Edit the images.  Bring up the shadows and bring down the highlights.

In the end, fireworks are about the experience…..take a few images and then enjoy the rest of the show.

Bright white fireworks at Chicago Navy Pier

Full disclosure: The images in this article were taken with a full-frame Sony camera on a tripod.