How To Take The Best Fireworks Photos


Fireworks always bring a lot of excitement not only because they are so beautiful and spectacular, but also because they associate with some special events, where you can watch them. A question about how to take qualitative firework photos quite often arises among the beginners. Indeed, taking a fireworks photo is not an easy task at all, as it may seem from the first sight. About how to take a good firework photo we are going to tell you in this lesson. 

The main mistake of a newbie, who decided to take a picture of a firework, is an attempt to take a camera and press a shutter button at the very moment when the fireworks explode. Alas, the photos taken in that case are far from perfect. In order to get really interesting shots you need to make several easy manipulations regarding the camera settings and finding a proper landscape.

Choosing a location

While taking a fireworks photo it's very important to make a plan first. Choosing an open, good place to take a photo and an early arrival is also very significant. Take into consideration where the fireworks will be taken from, and the areas of the sky on which they will look better. Also, choose which fixed-focus lens you are going to use and set it up before the show begins. Preferably, choose some kind of a hill, so as you can capture not only the fireworks but also some parts of the ground.

Vertical or horizontal

There are two basic types of framing in photography – vertical (portrait) and horizontal (landscape). Both can be used when taking a firework photo, but you should preferably use vertical, considering the vertical direction of the majority of the fireworks. Horizontal will match if you use a wide-angle lens and try to include a lot of details simultaneously in one shot. Advice: watch the horizon to avoid unnecessary details on your photo.

Adjusting your camera settings

Focal length. It's better to choose a short focal length, however, you could try to take several pictures on long focal length, it will allow to fill the whole shot with bright colors. The best decision is: zoom lens.

Diaphragm. Many people think that for fireworks photography you need a fast lens with a wide-open diaphragm, however, in reality it's different, as the lights of the fireworks are quite bright. Medium and closed aperture works quite well and usually the range from f/8 to f/16 is used.

Exposure. A more important question, than the proper diaphragm, is exposure. The lights of the fireworks move, as a result to reproduce this movement you require rather long exposure. The half-closed aperture also requires this. You should also try a bulb mode, which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as the shutter button is pressed. Herewith you open the shutter when the fireworks is about to explode and keep it open, until the flash of the fireworks will disappear.  Usually the exposure takes several seconds. Advice: don't leave the shutter open for too long.

ISO. Shooting with the low ISO is preferable for the clarity of the photos.


You are on the place of the future shooting.  Now let's do the following:

•    Turn off the built-in flash.

•    Set up the camera on a tripod 

•    Choose the manual mode in your camera

•    Change ISO settings on your camera – the lowest, which it allows. Don't forget to turn off Auto ISO.

•    Turn off auto-focus. Focus the lens to infinity. It's required to avoid the camera trying to focus on the dark sky, because it won't manage to do that.

•    Take a remote control (is required to ensure that we won't touch a shutter button, otherwise you can blur the image by accidentally pulling the camera). Choose a bulb mode. In this mode the shutter opens as we press a shutter button and remains open, unless we release the button. If your camera doesn't have such a function, set exposure on 2-3 seconds, however, in this case you have to guess when the firework will fire. Buy a remote control once and for all.

•    Adjust a diaphragm value f/5.6-11 for ISO 50-100 and f/11-16 for ISO 200. 

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