Tips on Photographing Fireworks

  • Published July 2nd, 2009 by HUth & Booth

With July 4th just around the corner, we thought that a few tips on photographing fireworks might be in order.

  • Most importantly Use a tripod. This keeps the camera still and allows a sharp image.
  • Use a remote release. This removes camera shake when you release the shutter. Or use the self timer. This is not as good a method as it does not allow you to pick your timing.
  • Frame your image. Look at the foreground and be sure you will not have heads in your way when the fireworks begin. Scout your location before time for the display and choose your spot carefully. You must anticipate where the burst of light will be and frame your photo accordingly. Be sure to keep your horizon level - another reason for the tripod. Keep in mind what the framing in the camera is as you probably will be watching the sky rather than looking through the camera.
  • For most images a wide angle lense will be the best. You can photograph in either the vertical (portrait)or horizontal (landscape) format. Vertical will allow for more trail of the light. You can try a few closeups, but they are unpredictable. It is easier to crop after the fact.
  • Shoot in Manual mode where you can set the apeture and the shutter speed independently. Your Apeture should be f/8 or f/16 and the Shutter Speed should be either bulb and expose for one - two seconds or you can set the camera for several seconds. Or set you camera to Shutter mode and set it for a long 1 second exposure. Release your shutter when you see the first of the display. Do not leave the shutter open too long as fireworks are really bright and will overexpose.
  • ISO should be 100 - 200 to get the best quality images.
  • Never use flash. It will do nothing but iluminate your foreground which is not what you want.
  • Experiment. Bring a flashlight so you can make changes in your exposure as you see the results on your LCD screen. Have fun and take lots of images.

Hope these tips are helpful. It is a place to start your exposures and go from there. Bracket and check your LCD. Let us know what other things you would find helpful. We would love to hear from you.