Tips on Photographing Fireworks

July 4th is near and there are a multitude of Firework displays to see.  Obtaining images of fireworks can be a challenge.  Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your firework images.

  • Use a Tripod

    Fireworks require long exposures making hand-holding the camera impractical.  Make sure your tripod is stable and turn off image stabilization as it is not needed on the tripod.

  • Use a Remote Release Trigger

    This will also help prevent movement of the camera from pressing down the camera’s shutter

  • Use the Lowest ISO available on your camera.

    This will generally be 100 or 200.  While these displays take place at night, the burst of fireworks emit a powerful light and therefore a higher ISO is not needed.

  • Set your F-stop from F8 to F16.  

    Trial each F-stop until you find what works best for you.  A smaller F-stop will allow you to capture the trails of the firework bursts.  Smaller F-stops will  limit the amount of light coming into the sensor. With a smaller F-stop  you will be able to leave the shutter open longer without overexposing the firework.

  • Use the Manual setting on your Camera and Use Bulb mode.

    This will allow you to manage the shutter as the firework happens.  Use your release trigger to open the shutter from 2-10 seconds.  Trial several shots at the beginning of the fireworks, then review to see what timing works best for you.

  • Scout out your location ahead of time.

    Ask where the fireworks will be set off, then pay attention to the wind direction so you can account for what direction they may travel. Figure out what you would like for foreground or background and adjust your position accordingly.  If you can arrive prior to dark, you will have time to set your focus for your planned shots as it will be difficult to manage once the darkness comes and the display begins.  If taking location shots, remember to keep the horizon straight.

  • Leave enough room in the frame for the height of the fireworks.

    After your first couple shots.  Review your images and adjust accordingly.

  • Try using a telephoto for a few shots.

    Getting a closeup shot of some of the trails of the fireworks can make a very effective image.