Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

Photographing Fireworks

fireworks at cliff's

It’s almost time for fireworks again! Fireworks are always a popular subject; here are some tips for better photos:

  • Cameras with full manual ability and a sturdy tripod are required.  If you do not have both, just sit back and enjoy the show.  Feel free to have fun with your phone, but don’t plan on making the photos any larger than your phone screen (they will not be clear enough).
  • Location is everything!  Find a vantage point with an unobstructed view of the area that is upwind.  Often, this will be away from the crowd.  Check your view for errant light like street lamps.  Fill the frame with the burst (using a zoom) or pull back to include water, buildings and bridges.   Don’t forget to photograph the spectators’ faces.  A silhouetted crowd or structure is also a good shot.
  • Plan on using all of the memory and battery power that you have.  You will take MANY photos and will not have time to delete during the show.  Be sure to keep enough in reserve for the finale.
  • Settings – aperture f/8 or f/11, ISO 100, manual focus to infinity, no flash. Let me repeat – no flash! It will not improve your photo and WILL annoy the person next to you.
  • Shutter speed will make or break you.  Experiment with the shutter open from 2 seconds to 30 seconds.  In general, a professional show will require a shorter shutter speed than a backyard show (professional grade fireworks are bigger and brighter).  A small device called a shutter release is worth its weight in gold.  It holds the shutter open with one click and closes it with the next.  You’ll have complete control over the shutter and won’t need to touch (and perhaps shake) the camera. With this, you can keep the shutter open for several minutes and capture multiple bursts.  Check the manual to see if your camera accepts one.
  • As with all fast-action photography, you have to shoot before it happens.  Open the shutter when you hear to explosion and close it when the light trails start to disappear (somewhere between the oohs and the ahhs).
  • Don’t get so absorbed with the photography that you forget to watch the show!

Send in your best fireworks photos to share!  Email your jpeg to me ( and I’ll post them on my Facebook page.