Shooting fireworks with the Huawei P30 Pro: A practical guide

Shooting fireworks with the Huawei P30 Pro: A practical guide

Capturing fireworks can be tricky but with the right gear and these tips, you just might be able to shoot like a pro.

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You don't need a DSLR to capture stunning fireworks shots.

Singapore’s 54th birthday is just round the corner. While the venue of this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) has moved from the Marina Bay floating platform to the Padang, one thing remains unchanged – the dazzling fireworks.

Whether you are at the parade or around the City Hall area on Aug 9, don’t miss the opportunity to capture some fantastic shots of the fireworks.

You may not even need a full-fledged DSLR for the job. Huawei’s flagship  smartphone – the P30 Pro – is aimed at tackling all sorts of photography moments, thanks to a formidable Leica quad camera system that touts a 40MP primary camera, 20MP ultra-wide angle camera and 8MP telephoto camera. The Huawei P30 Pro also supports 10x hybrid zoom and up to 50x digital zoom.

Here are some tips and tricks to get the best fireworks pictures.

KNOW WHERE TO 'PARK' YOURSELF

Once you have identified a location, be kiasu and arrive early. This gives you time to pick the best spot before it gets too crowded. If you are new to the area, roam around and do a few test shots first.

Also, look for foreground objects like bridges or buildings to make the photos more exciting. For this NDP, the best location to be at if you don’t want to spend a dime is the Merlion Park at Fullerton Road. But NDP fans know this too – so be there early.

Other good and popular spots include the Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay, and the Roof Garden at the new Funan Mall.
 

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If you are shooting wide and there are other elements in the frame, keep the horizon straight.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE AUTO MODE

Recent smartphone cameras such as the P30 Pro come with an Auto or AI-assisted Photo mode that is intelligent enough to identify the scenes they are looking at and adjust the settings automatically.

The trick to getting a good fireworks shot using Auto mode is knowing when to press the shutter release button. Since you can’t control the shutter speed, we suggest pressing the button just before the entire burst. This gives the camera the opportunity to capture a fuller display if it uses a longer exposure.

If you are not confident of your ability to anticipate the perfect moment, keep your finger on the shutter button to engage Burst mode. The camera will take dozens of photos that you can go through and select the best ones to keep later in the Gallery.

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Thanks to AI-assisted scene recognition, capturing fireworks with the P30 Pro is a simple point-and-shoot affair.

TRY OTHER CREATIVE MODES SUCH AS LIGHT PAINTING

A key difference between smartphones and traditional cameras is the sheer number of creative shooting modes the former offers. In the P30 Pro’s case, you can try the Light Painting mode, which can be found under Camera > More > Light Painting. There are four modes under Light Painting and among them, Light Graffiti is the best for recording the flowing streaks of fireworks.

Low-light shooting modes such as Light Painting work their magic by using a slow shutter speed to give the camera ample time to capture the light trails. Because of the longer exposure, use a tripod for the best result. If it has to be a handheld shot, keep your elbows to your sides and try to keep your hands as still as possible.
   

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Anticipate the height so that you leave enough room to capture the burst.

DON'T FORGET TO GO WIDE

When shooting fireworks, many people have the tendency to zoom all the way in to get a "closer" shot. This is fine if you have the P30 Pro that can do 10x hybrid zoom.

But shooting with a telephoto lens also increases the chance of a burst going out of frame. To prevent this, we suggest using a moderately wide-angle lens like the 27mm-equivalent lens that the P30 Pro’s main 40MP camera has – or better yet, the 16mm-equivalent lens that is on the phone’s 20MP ultra-wide-angle camera.

An ultra-wide-angle lens will also come in handy when you want to capture multiple bursts across the sky in the same shot. Try to use the wider view to include landmarks or people – this will help the photo tell a better story.
 
USE MANUAL MODE TO EXPAND THE POSSIBILITIES

Many smartphone cameras today come with a manual shooting mode that allows you to adjust settings such as ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, white balance and metering. On the P30 Pro, this is called Pro mode and is one of the options you see when you swipe above the shutter button.

Shutter speed is the most important setting when shooting fireworks. Anything between 1 and 4 seconds works well with fireworks – go longer if you want to capture more bursts and shorter if the burst is quick and near.

As fireworks are bright and you are already doing longer exposures, use a low ISO setting such as ISO 50 or 100 to keep the noise down.
 

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The P30 Pro has a Pro mode for users who want the power to manually tweak exposure levels.

PRACTISE AND EXPERIMENT

If this is your first time shooting fireworks, be prepared to make mistakes. But know that it is through trial and error that you get better. Once you get the hang of it, you can try new ways of shooting, such as zooming into the fireworks and framing with a different orientation.

Final tip: Need to practise? Catch the NDP rehearsal tomorrow. Another option to hone your skills is at the Wings of Time show at Sentosa.

Happy National Day!

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There are tips to shooting fireworks, but no fixed rules – always experiment and adapt when you are out in the field.

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