Cel­e­brating Inde­pen­dence Day has become syn­ony­mous with watching fire­works light up the night sky. Here, pro­fessor of Art + Design Neal Rantoul, director of the pho­tog­raphy pro­gram at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, explains how to take frame-​​worthy photos of exploding Bengal fires and Roman candles.

Simply put, how do you take visu­ally appealing photos of fire­works?
There are a sev­eral ways of attacking a fire­works shoot, but the two most tra­di­tional methods require you to mount the camera on a tripod to ensure that it remains steady and the photos turn out sharp.

The first option is to open the shutter for sev­eral sec­onds and then close the shutter when the fire­works die down. You will end up with a very col­orful and abstract photo. The other, more tech­ni­cally sound method would be to select the manual set­ting on the camera, increase the shutter speed and click away. You will end up with a less dynamic, but col­orful photo of fire­works seem­ingly frozen in time.

Most people take photos using their camera’s auto­matic set­tings, but for those using single-​​lens reflex (SLR) cam­eras, I rec­om­mending two things: set the focus to infinity and crank down the ISO to some­where between 200 and 400. This way, the camera will pick up less ambient light and you will get a crisper, more trans­parent shot.

Pho­tog­ra­phers often say the best camera is the one you have with you. What tips can you offer those who want to take photos of fire­works with their iPhone?
I’ve seen some great pho­tographs taken by the iPhone. To get started, try down­loading a couple of pho­tog­raphy appli­ca­tions, like Dark­room, which allows you to adjust a photograph’s lighting, or AutoS­titch, which cre­ates wide-​​angle, panoramic photos.

Pho­tog­raphy is experimentation-​​based. I sug­gest scouting out your loca­tion and taking some photos of the area at night. The cam­eras on iPhones don’t zoom in too much, so the closer you can get to the fire­works, the better. When the real show begins, point and shoot and see what you get.

What advice do you have for bud­ding pho­tog­ra­phers who plan to enjoy the fire­works on Boston’s Esplanade?
Take the oppor­tu­nity to cap­ture the life of the city. Bring your camera into the crowd of jug­glers and people having pic­nics. I usu­ally ride my bike to the Mass­a­chu­setts Avenue Bridge, near MIT, and take photos of the whole scene because it’s just so cool. It’s my favorite event in Boston.