Los Angeles & California Stock Photography

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Photographing Fireworks

Fireworks Displays 

1. Use a Tripod

The most important tip is to secure your camera to something that will ensure it doesn’t move during the taking of your shots.

  2. Use a camera Release or use the self timer. 

This can work but you really need to be able to anticipate shots well and its very very hit and miss. 

3. Frame Your Shot

Planning is important with fireworks and getting to the location early in order to get a good idea of where you want to set up.


Watch your Horizons  Vertical or Horizontal? 

4. Aperture

Apertures in the mid to small range tend to work reasonably well and would usually shoot somewhere between f/8 to f/16. 


5. Shutter Speed

Probably more important to get right than aperture is shutter speed. Fireworks move and as a result the best photographs of them capture this movement meaning you need a nice long exposure. 

The technique that I developed when I first photographed fireworks was to shoot in ‘bulb’ mode. Sometimes I leave the shutter open and cover the lens with a black card then remove it when the fireworks is bursting again, then covering again and waiting for something that looks more dramatic. 

This is a mode that allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter. Using this technique you hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (generally a few seconds).

Important to remember

Shooting at a low ISO is preferable to ensure the cleanest shots possible. Stick to ISO 100 and you should be fine.

Shooting with a flash will have no impact upon your shots except to trick your camera into thinking it needs a short exposure time.

I find I get the best results when shooting in manual exposure and manual focus modes. Auto focusing in low light can be very difficult for many cameras and you’ll end up missing a lot of shots.

If you use this method, you should end up with a pretty good shot of the fireworks. You'll get better with practice, so take a lot of pictures and check out how they turned out after each one. This will give you a great idea whether or not you need to adjust any settings to improve the quality of your pictures.

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