Categories:> Lifestyle, Photography

Sydney NYE Fireworks Time-lapse from an iPhone

When I got my iPhone 6 Plus I practically stopped using my SLR, and in doing so no longer needed to carry around a lot of equipment (such as a tripod) for day-to-day/general photography. The camera in the iPhone has been perfect for what I’ve wanted to capture for the most part. However, recently I found a different use for my tripod after discovering a new accessory – an iPhone tripod mount – which allows for more advanced techniques beyond hand-held photography.

The tripod mount I use is the SideKick360Plus – as the name suggests it rotates 360 degrees, but also pivots, alternates between vertical and horizontal, all while remaining compatible with just about any iPhone from the now smaller iPhone 4s, to the large 5.5-inch iPhone 6/6s Plus.

Attaching your iPhone to a tripod has its advantages when it comes to capturing video, long exposures, video chat and time-lapse photography, etc. For me I’ve recently had an interest in time-lapse photography – the tripod attachment is perfect  for this, as it holds the iPhone completely still in place so I can capture the best time-lapse possible.

iPhone Tripod Mount SideKick360Plus

For those unfamiliar with the time-lapse feature on the iPhone, it allows you to capture minutes of video (even hours) and essentially squeezes it into a short movie to watch back. For example if a race car driver was to record his or her drive around a track what would say take 5 minutes each lap could be watched back in a few seconds.

After taking a few time-lapses I asked myself, what would it be like to capture the Sydney NYE fireworks? I was concerned about how well the iPhone would capture the fireworks from Marrickville (approximately 7km from the city), especially in low lighting, but decided to test it anyway.

A few minutes before the fireworks were due to start I set up my iPhone on the tripod pointing towards the city, ready to go (including turning on the airplane mode in case anyone was to call during the 12-minute firework display which would stop the recording). To ensure the fireworks were going to record the way I wanted I decided to disable the iPhone auto focus and auto exposure feature by locking the focus in the Camera app. [Simply tap and hold the subject you want to focus on and an AE/AF Lock will display.] I then adjusted the exposure by lowering it a little by dragging down – you know you’re doing it right when you see a sun icon. In low lighting, this makes a bright subject more obvious and clear.

The rest was simple, tapped record a few seconds before the clock struck midnight and here was the result:

To my surprise, the fireworks ended up being quite visible throughout the video –especially when viewed in its full 1080p quality.

Equipment Used


  • Lock the iPhone auto-focus and auto-exposure
  • Adjust exposure down
  • Ensure your battery is charged if you plan on recording a long time-lapse
  • Consider putting your iPhone in airplane mode to prevent incoming phone calls which will interrupt the recording

About Ben See all posts by author

Sydney, Australia. Love travel, photography, architecture, technology, gaming, web design/design - 26.

Your comment