How to Set Up for a Fireworks Photography Session

With the 4th of July right around the corner, it’s time to get ready for some awesome fireworks displays. Getting great fireworks shots isn’t really that difficult, but if you’ve never done it before, it can help to start out with a few tips. With that in mind, photographer David Bergman gives you everything you need to know in this brief minute tutorial:

Tips for Taking Fireworks Shots:

  1. Scout your location ahead of time. Keep in mind, this might mean needing to reserve your space, as the best vantages tend to be in high demand.
  2. Provide context. While fireworks on their own can be pretty stunning, giving the context of your shoot (e.g. the foreground or background) can add depth and interest to your photo.

long exposure fireworks photo

  1. Choose the right camera settings. A good starting place for fireworks is an of ISO 100, f/11, and a long shutter speed. Bergman recommends starting at something as long as 8 seconds, but you can cut that down to something as quick as a half a second if you’re looking for something faster. The longer shutter speed will capture as many bursts as possible in one frame and give you a brighter exposure on your foreground. A quicker shutter speed will allow you to capture as many different shots as possible. (You’ll need a tripod either way.)
  2. Shoot in manual mode. This will prevent your autofocus from wasting time figuring out what to focus on while you’re trying to capture that perfect firework. Also, turn off your flash.
  3. Stabilize your tripod. Add some weight to it to keep it from moving. Most tripods have a hook on the center pole that will let you hang something on; many photographers simply use their backpacks.
  4. Use a cable release. Fire your shutter using a cable release so you don’t have to touch the camera while taking the photos. This will avoid any inadvertent camera shake.

getting great fireworks photos

Camera Gear for Fireworks Photography

You can take some amazing fireworks shots with just about any DSLR and tripod, but in case you’re wondering what David Bergman prefers, here’s his equipment list:

  • Canon 5DS R
  • Canon EF 24mm-105mm f4 L IS USM lens
  • Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum 3 Sections Tripod
  • Manfrotto MHXPRO-BHQ6 XPRO Ball Head
  • Canon RS-80N3 Remote Switch
  • Domke Gripper Camera Strap, 1″” with Swivel Quick Release, Black
  • Think Tank Airport Security V2.0, Carry On Roller Bag

fourth of july photo ideas

If this is your first time shooting fireworks, you’ll most likely be surprised at how easy it is to get good shots. If you’re an old hand at it and have  more tips for us, let us know in the comments!

For further training: The How to Photograph Fireworks eBook at 55% Off

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2 responses to “How to Set Up for a Fireworks Photography Session”

  1. BOB DUMON says:

    All good advice, but I’d like to add a couple more. One, take a flashlight with you for looking for things in your bag, adjusting settings, etc. Second, take water with you. And third, you may wish to consider taking along a folding beach chair. Have fun, and get some good shots!

  2. lanie lambert says:

    i’m a first timer i have never shot photos of fireworks in my life because i’m a student photographer

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