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5 tips in Photographing Fireworks this 4th of July

This is a re-post that I wrote at The Idea Room last week;)

{Source} Fireworks with reflection in the water

Unfortunately, I won’t be photographing any fireworks in Texas, because we have a burn ban in our area due to extreme drought conditions.  But I can still offer you tips with images I found online with their sources.

#1 Use a tripod.  To capture evening light, you need to leave your camera  shutter open for at least a few seconds, and no matter how still we think we are, we move, and then the image moves. It is helpful to have a remote to trigger the shutter on that tripod, because when you press the shutter, it will move, but you can still try this without a remote. Your camera timer is an alternative, but it would be tricky to time that, but with a big firework display, it could work.

{Source} Fireworks from above, capturing the scene of the land below (with a little silhouette)

#2 Manual focus.  This is something I don’t often do because of vision issues, but in this case, you can’t use the cameras focus when the fireworks go off because a) they are too fleeting and b) with your shutter open a few seconds and multiple fireworks going off, the focal point will keep changing.  The auto abilities will go haywire and you’ll keep missing the shot.  You will need to look for something in the distance to focus on, or just focus on the open sky.  You will likely be able to set the focus once and not need to change it during the fireworks, so set that before the show begins.

{Source} Double firewworks here!  For this affect, you will need a constant light source on the couple while using the settings I have suggested for the fireworks behind.

#3 Set your ISO–Though you are shooting into a dark sky, fireworks are pretty bright, so shooting at ISO 100 works well, and will produce the least amount of grain as well.

{Source} Awesome silhouette of people watching fireworks in the distance off of a pier on the water.

#4 Set your Aperture–Shooting at a low aperture (higher number) is ideal.  Something like f/8 or f/11 would work as a good place to start, and will have the landscape in focus.

{Source} I love the skyline in this shot. This shutter was longer because you can see the falling fireworks dragging downward.

#5 Set your Shutter Speed–Last but certainly not least, how long to keep your shutter open.  You will have to experiement a little, and it depends on the effect you are going for.  At least 1 second (1″), but up to 4 seconds (4″) I would try.  The shorter amount (1 second) will be crisp lines while the longer (4 seconds) will produce the streaks more.  Like when you are using sparklers to “draw” something.

{Source} I have one of these that I can’t seem to access on my external hard drive, but you gotta try to hold still while “drawing” with the sparkler in the air.

 {Source} This is shooting up to the sky, just capturing the fireworks, which is nice to fill the frame with them.

P.S. Don’t use your pop up flash….not gonna work.

Have a great 4th of July!

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  1. Thank you for the great tips! I was watching some Canada Day fireworks from our front porch the other day and was wondering how to capture them… next year I will be able to!

  2. Rachelle says:

    Now I am even more sad that there will be no fireworks this year!!! Great tips!

  3. Scarlet scorpion says:

    Thanks so much for these! Nice pictures :)

  4. I love your pictures!! Gorgeous