Fourth of July weekend is coming up and that means one thing: FIREWORKS! Photographing fireworks can be a daunting task. You have a few things work against you.

1. It’s dark out.

2. They’re fast.

3. Did I mention it’s dark out?

After being frustrated when trying to capture fireworks, I read every tutorial I could get my hands on. I had to nail this! And I did!

And now? I’m sharing with you how!
how to photograph fireworks

1. Shutter Speed: Before you do anything, you need to remember that you will have to use a slow shutter speed when photographing fireworks. A slow shutter speed will allow you to photograph the entire firework, from the launch to the fade. To do this, you need a long exposure. Start with at least one second {1″}. The longer you set it, the more you’ll capture. Keep in mind that the longer the exposure will create more streaking. Experiment with your shutter speed and see which you like best!

2. Aperture: Next, you want to make sure you have the right aperture. Since it’s night time, you would assume that you want a large aperture {smaller f/ stop} to let more light in. However, it’s the complete opposite! The slow shutter speed will help compensate for the light. Instead, you want to shoot with a smaller aperture of at least f/ 8.

how to photograph fireworks

3. ISO: After you set your shutter speed and aperture, you want to set your ISO. Normally at night, I would tell you to crank that ISO up. But if you do that when photographing fireworks, your photos will be very grainy with a lot of noise. Also when you shoot with a high ISO, you will illuminate the sky and you don’t want that either. You want a nice dark background. You can shoot comfortably with an ISO of at least 200 for fireworks. You can even go as low as 100!

4. Point and Shoot Settings: Don’t have a dSLR? Not a problem! You can easily capture fireworks with your point and shoot. Use the night setting {long exposure} on your camera. Some point and shoots even have a fireworks setting! By switching to either of these two, your flash will be turned off and the camera will pick the correct settings to get the shot.

5. Surface and Flash: Now that you have your settings ready, you need to find a good solid shooting surface. Whether you use a tripod or a put your camera on a fence or wall, you will need something to eliminate camera shake. Another important thing to remember is to turn off your flash! You don’t want anything competing with the light from the fireworks themselves.

6. Go Manual: If you can, turn off the auto-focus on your lens. Your camera may have a difficult time finding what to focus on and you will completely lose your shot.  Instead, try using manual focus. To get the firework in focus, find something in the distance to focus on or you can just focus on the sky. Once you find something to focus on, you should be able to keep it where it is for the whole show.

how to photograph fireworks

7. Shoot the First Set: Finally, make sure you are prepared to shoot the first set of fireworks. As the show goes on, there is smoke and wind to compete with and it might make taking the pictures more difficult.

Related Post