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How To Photograph Fireworks

11 February, 2021

How to photograph fireworks

Photographing fireworks can seem a little daunting, but they really are a great subject that every photographer should try to capture at least once.  Get it right and you’ll have a set of spectacular images that will look great printed on large canvases; get it wrong and you’ll wish you just watched the firework display instead! This week we’re going to share our failsafe guide to capturing the best firework images possible.

The gear you’ll need

You can have a go at this with any decent camera that allows you to shoot with a long exposure, but if it has a “bulb release” option you’ll have far more control of your pictures. This means that a DSLR, CSC, or high-quality compact will be ideal. Other essential items are a sturdy tripod and a remote shutter (either wireless or cabled) because you’re going to be using quite long exposures and will need to keep your camera steady. We recommend a standard to midrange zoom as this will give you more versatility and allow you to control your composition better.  


Decide if you want to add some context to your firework images by including more of the scene in your shot, or if you’d prefer to focus entirely on the explosion – the choice is yours. If you’re planning on including part of the scene, remember that while the fireworks are the star of the show it’s also important to balance your images by using the thirds – oh, and don’t forget to keep your horizons level!

Get your setting right

If you’ve tried to take firework pictures before – perhaps on your smartphone or compact camera – you may well have ended up frustrated and given up. However, once you understand the settings you need to use it’s really quite easy. Let’s take a look at how to set-up your camera:

Shoot in manual mode and manual focus.
Choose an aperture of around f/8 – f/16, depending on how bright the fireworks are.
ISO 100 is a good starting point because explosions are very bright, but be prepared to increase this a little if necessary.
Choose “Bulb” mode (consult your camera’s manual to find out how to do this).
Manual focus rules!

We suggest using manual focus and a deep aperture because your camera will hunt all night trying to lock focus on the fireworks. Set your focus early in the display and leave it there – you should have plenty of depth of field to keep everything sharp.

Using Bulb mode

Bulb mode is simple to use and gives you complete control of how long the shutter is open for. Simply click the shutter open just before the firework goes off and click it closed just after it dies away.

Even though firework photography may be outside of your comfort zone, it can also be a lot of fun, so be prepared, expect plenty of rejects, and keep clicking until you’ve captured some stellar images.

11 February, 2021


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