Capture the essence of the 4th of July by using your smartphone!

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| July 3, 2014


As many of you are probably aware, tomorrow is the 4th of July, a very patriotic holiday here in the states that marks the approval of the Declaration of Independence, officially making America a free nation. More importantly than freedom, however, the 4th of July also gives us an excuse to barbecue, shoot fireworks, and celebrate together! Given that the 4th of July is such a big event for many people, it’s also a great time to capture the moment with photos, videos, and music - and what better gadget to do that with than with your own smartphone?


First and foremost, I would say that if you’ve never used your phone to take pictures of a gathering or an event before, now would be a good time to get familiar with your camera's settings and how they work. A lot of people don’t realize that smartphone cameras often have a lot of settings similar to traditional digital cameras (different shooting modes, brightness/contrast adjustment, etc.) which can really help when taking photos throughout different times of the day. Of course, if you’re not sure whether a certain shooting mode will turn out well or not, you can always just do what I do and go for “Auto” mode and hope for the best. You can always edit photos later.


Speaking of editing photos, it’s also a good idea to scour the market for good photo editing apps. Cutting straight to the chase, here are some of my favorite (free) photo editing apps that I’ve used over the past couple of years:


Photo Editor by Aviary (Free); Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8

Pixlr Express (Free); Android, iOS

Fotor (Free); Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8

Adobe Photoshop Express (Free); Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8

Instagram (Free); Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8


Although BlackBerry 10 apps weren’t specifically mentioned, it is worth noting that anybody using BlackBerry 10 version 10.2.1 or above has the ability to download Android applications directly to your phone hassle-free. Anything approved for Android should work with BlackBerry 10 as well.


Now, on to the fireworks. Fireworks are tricky to capture on camera when trying to take pictures, which is why I specifically don’t recommend trying to use a smartphone camera to try and take still pictures of a beautiful fireworks show. Instead, I would highly recommend using a video function to record the show, and go back later and take camera stills of the best-looking moments. As a side note, and from personal experience, I would also recommend only glancing at your screen every once in a while to make sure you’re actually capturing the show, but should try to actually watch the fireworks show with your own eyes. It’s much prettier and less disappointing this way.


Since we’re on the topic of fireworks, if you have a little one at home who might be too afraid to watch a loud fireworks show, you can still take part in the festivities by letting them play with the (much quieter) Fireworks Arcade app, available on all mobile platforms.


While smartphones can be handy and can enhance a good time with company through easy access to photos, videos, and apps, my biggest recommendation when it comes to using smartphones on the 4th of July is to use it sparingly if out with friends and family! Here’s to hoping that all of our readers have a safe and happy holiday tomorrow!


Images via Wonder How To, Verizon Wireless