What’s the Proper Way to Photograph Fireworks?

It’s that time of the year when many members of our community are looking for tips on how to shoot fireworks. The Art of Photography shares a few things to consider if you’re planning to shoot fireworks this 4th of July:

Considerations When Taking Fireworks Photos

  1. Fireworks are bright. That means they stand out against a pitch black sky.
  2. They move, which means you can expect some amount of motion blur.
  3. They are unpredictable. Meaning, you are never quite sure how far they will reach in the air or in which direction.

As a result, you need to employ a few tricks to capture good images. You need a tripod and you will also need to shoot longer exposures. You will need to also experiment with your exposure.

how to shoot fireworks

Tips for Fireworks Photography

  1. Pre-focus your lens and shut off auto-focusing so that the lens doesn’t try to re-acquire focus after a while.
  2. Choose the smallest ISO number that your camera supports.
  3. Turn on Long Exposure Noise Reduction (note that this will double the exposure time).
  4. Set your lens aperture to f/8 or f/11. That should give you enough depth of field for a sharp image of a fireworks display.
  5. Experiment with the shutter speed by setting your camera to bulb mode. In this mode, your camera shutter remains open for as long as you have the shutter button pressed down. Start from something like two seconds and experiment. Take many shots to get the best effect.

Avoid Boring Fireworks Shots

Fireworks are one of many popular photography subjects. That is why, if you are experimenting in your approach, you’ll likely turn up with similar looking shots to what’s already on Flickr.

How can you incorporate a new approach?

Try to use a wider lens to capture more of the immediate environment. Give your shots a little bit more context.

fireworks photography tutorial

Incorporate the people who are around you. Try to capture their emotions or what they are doing or feeling to give it a human touch.

“Of course when all else fails, if you’re really not achieving the results you want, a lot of times they say, turn your camera towards where everyone else is not shooting. And just try to get reactions of the people around you. You will be surprised at some of the things that you’re able to find.”

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One response to “What’s the Proper Way to Photograph Fireworks?”

  1. Linda garland says:

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