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How to Take Photos of Fireworks

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Fireworks look magnificent. But if you try to capture a shot, more than likely, it will just end up looking like a blob of light in the sky.

But if you’re trained with the right technique, you’ll be able to get impressive photos you’ll be proud of.

With the fourth of July right around the corner, now is the perfect time to share firework photography tips and tricks. Here are a few you’ll want to know about.

Avoid Camera Shake

Since fireworks are moving, you’ll want to stay as still as possible. A tripod will be helpful in achieving this goal. You can further eliminate shake with a remote shutter that can be external, or you can also get the effect by setting your camera in advance.

It’s best to use a long shutter speed when shooting fireworks, another reason why you’ll want to avoid shake.

Get Your Framing Right

When it comes to firework photography, getting the framing right is one of the biggest challenges. After all, you can never be exactly sure where the fireworks will appear.

There are no guarantees when it comes to getting the perfect composition, but here are some helpful tips.

• Scout out your location in advance to find a spot that won’t be obstructed by people or buildings.

• Keep the horizon in a fixed place within the frame. This is one constant you can be sure of.

• Decide whether you’ll be shooting vertically or horizontally. Vertically tends to be best for fireworks since they go straight up into the air but either option is acceptable.

• It’s easy to pay more attention to the sky than your viewfinder when fireworks are happening, but it’s important not to lose sight of your framing.

Experiment with Focal Lengths

Longer focal lengths will make for tightly cropped shots as opposed to wide angles that will capture the entire scene. It’s good to experiment, but generally, wide angle shots are preferable. They will capture the entire scene, so you are less likely to miss the fireworks. They can also be edited in post if you prefer tighter images.

Set the Aperture Accordingly

Many people think you need a fast lens to capture fireworks, but the bright light will work better with a slower lens set with a mid to small range aperture. Anywhere between f/8 and f/16 tends is advisable.

Get the Shutter Speed Right

A long exposure works best for firework photography. You may want to try shooting in bulb mode which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you hold it down. That way you can press the shutter when the firework is about to explode and keep holding it down until it is fully revealed.

You can experiment with shutter speeds, but you definitely won’t want to hold your shutter down too long. This will overexpose the pictures.

Use a Low ISO

A low ISO, set to about 100 will help you get the cleanest shots.

Turn Off Your Flash

Your flash will not be helpful during a firework shoot. It will only trick your camera into thinking it needs a short exposure time which can do more harm than good.

Shoot In Manual

If you let your camera autofocus in low light, you’ll miss out on a lot of shots. It’s best to use manual focus and manual exposure modes. Once your camera is set to these modes, it’s unlikely you will need to change them during your shoot.

Check Your Shots

Check your shots every so often to see how they are coming out. Make adjustments if necessary.

Now that you know how to get terrific firework shots, you’re all ready for the fourth of July. Here’s hoping you get images that impress.


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