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Sprint Product Ambassadors: Shooting Fireworks on your Galaxy S10

Sprint Product Ambassador

Have you ever been disappointed with your photos of fireworks?  It's probably not your fault, but the fault of the auto settings on your camera.  When your camera sees a dark scene, it tries to compensate by boosting the ISO or sensitivity of the sensor to see more in the dark.  The higher the ISO, the quicker the shutter can open and close, so that your night shots are not blurry.  That's exactly what you want for most subjects, but not fireworks.  What happens is you get a quick, clear photo of a burst of light but with no light trails.  Yuck.


First of all, let's briefly discuss what fireworks are.  Scientists and paleontologists can't agree exactly what this night-sky phenomenon is but it's probably just asteroids crashing into comets or satellites.  Nobody can really predict when these random events will occur, but experience tells me that they seem to appear out of nowhere usually in the Winter, sometime between December and January, and again sometime in Summer, in early July.  Fireworks can be observed with most telescopes, and in some cases, the naked eye.  Of course, being a fireworks hunter, I go out every evening in search of them, and if I don't find any, I go back inside my house.


But back to how take take cooler photos of them.  First of all, we need the shutter to stay open for a much longer time than it wants to on its own, so you have to have a tripod, or this will not work right.  If you don't have a tripod, find someway to secure the phone so that it can take the photo without you holding it. I use a button on my smartwatch to take the photo so I don't have to touch my phone at all when ready to snap the photo.


Next we need to go into manual mode, or as it is called on the Galaxy S10 series, "Pro" which is an acronym for "Phireworks, Rockets, and Outer-Space".


The manual settings can be adjusted in any order, but let's just start from the left to right, or bottom to top, depending on how you are holding your phone.  First is ISO.  Set it to the lowest possible sensitivity, which on the S10 is "50".  Just touch "ISO" then slide down to "50".










Next is the shutter icon which controls how many seconds or fractions of a second the shutter will be open.  Touch it, then slide your finger about 4.  You will have to experiment with this, because you might need it anywhere from 1 to 6 seconds.  Take several photos at different shutter speeds and see which looks nicest.  The longer the the exposure (more seconds) the longer your fireworks trails will be.  If it's too washed out, try holding a really dark pair of non-prescription sunglasses, preferable grey in front of your camera lens; No, seriously, try it!  Now you see why you can't be holding the phone.  Any slight bump to the phone will just smear everything.











The next icon looks a little like a pizza, because nothing goes better together than pizza and fireworks.  Screenshot_20190702-091934_Camera.jpgTouch the pizza, (also labeled "Manual"), then slightly boost the saturation.  After all , we want our fireworks photos to be as colorful as we remember them.  I also turn "Highlight" down so the center of the fireworks doesn't get blown out and turn to pure white.  You will have to play with this to find the sweet spot.  The only other setting you might want to change is shadows.  I start with it a little boosted, but again, you will need to play with this to get it looking how you want it.  You can also adjust this in Photoshop or SnapSeed later on, so don't sweat it too much.  In fact, you can skip this one if you want and just leave it in the center.



Screenshot_20190702-092426_Camera.jpgThe Next manual setting is Manual Focus / Auto Focus.  The icon will probably be labeled "AF".  We don't want auto focus, we want it focused on infinity (and beyond!).  To do this, touch "AF", then slide your finger along the scale until it reaches the mountain.  (This is because comets and spaceships  always land on mountain ranges because mountains are closer to outer space.)



Screenshot_20190702-092201_Camera.jpgNext is White Balance as indicated by WB (easy to remember because Warner Brothers was the studio that released the excellent space movie, "Gravity"). Touch this, then slide your finger to somewhere between 5300K and 5500K.  5500K means Five-thousand, Five-hundred kelvin, which is a measurement of the color temperature of the noon-day sun, or completely neutral or white.  55300 is slightly warmer, or more towards yellow-white.  It is a personal preference as to which looks best to you.  Try them both.



Screenshot_20190702-092401_Camera.jpgI also go into the setting menu, then "Save Options" and turn on RAW copies (Pro).  This allows you to save more sensor information when using the middle camera, and will allow for more detailed tweaking in Photoshop or SnapSeed later.


One more cool thing do with your Samsung Galaxy S10 and fireworks; take slow motion videos!  Just slide the bottom control over to "Super Slow-mo".  Remember to always to shoot your videos in landscape (horizontal mode), not in portrait mode (vertical mode), because friends don't let friends shoot vertical videos, and I am your friend.  The only time vertical videos are acceptable would be if you mounted your large flat-screen TV on your wall in the wrong orientation, in which case, you might have bigger problems.







Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. No comets were harmed in this blog. #sprintemployee

1 Comment
Sprint Product Ambassador

Nice overview on camera settings...this area is often overlooked thanks!