Photographing Fireworks – 10 Useful Tips

Photographing fireworks can present some challenges, but with some thought and preparation the results can be worth it. Follow our useful tips for firework display photos below and you should be successful.

1. Use a Tripod

In order to maximise the quality of your fireworks photos you really need to ensure your camera does not move during exposure so you need to use a tripod or place the camera on something secure, such as a wall. This is very important in photographing fireworks because you will be using much longer shutter speeds than normal and which will not only capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement of the camera itself.


2. Try a Remote Shutter Release

One way to ensure your camera is completely still during the firework display is to invest in a remote shutter release or you could use the camers self-timer button - this can also work well, but you really need to be able to anticipate shots well as it can be a bit hit and miss!


3. Frame the Shot

Photographing firework displays needs some preparation if you want to be successful. One of the first obstacles is where to point the camera so again anticipation is key.  You really need to point your camera to where you think the firework is going to explode.

Try and visit the site before the firework display so you can think about where to set yourself up with a nice clear view of the scene. See if you can establish where the display is going to be set up and what sort of fireworks are going to be let off.  This information will help you to prepare what equipment and film to use for fireworks photos.


4. What Focal Length

 We recommend using a fairly wide focal length for fireworks photos as it gives you more chance of capturing the shot. If you need tightly cropped shots then it may be better to do this after taking the pictures using Photoshop or similar package.


5. Which Aperture to Use

If you set your camera to between f/8 – f/16 you should get reasonable results as the light created by the firework display is really quite bright against the black sky.


6. Shutter Speeds

To capture the movement of the firework display means you need quite a long exposure. A lot of people find using the ‘B’ mode [Bulb] works well as it allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter/shutter release. Using this technique hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until it’s finished.


7. ISO Film Rating

Photographing firework displays at a low ISO is recommended to ensure the best results.


8. No Flash Required

As we have already discussed, we need long  exposure time to photograph the firework display so a flash of light will have no impact whatsoever, all it will do is make your camera think it needs a shorter exposure time. So switch the auto flash off before you begin taking your fireworks photos!


9. Shoot using Manual Settings

Most people believe they get the best results photographing fireworks using the manual exposure and focus controls on the camera. Auto focus does not always perform well in low light situations so the results may be a lot of out of focus shots. Once you set your focus you should not really have to change it while photographing fireworks, especially if you’re using a small aperture which increases depth of field.


10. Check your Results

Remember, remember to check your results every now and then to ensure you are getting the fireworks photos you want.