Firework Photos

Watching fireworks in the night sky is an amazing fascination but for some, capturing fireworks correctly with your camera is much more difficult. Here’s how to obtain fantastic photos of fireworks:

  • As firework displays are shown best at night you should consider taking a small torch along with you to enable you to make adjustments to the camera and to check the surrounding area
  • Take a tripod and securely fix the camera (easier when you have a small torch)
  • With the camera securely mounted on the tripod and to avoid any unnecessary movement when you release the shutter, it might also be worth using a cable-release as you can start taking the photo at exactly the time you want. Utilising the delayed timer function can also work but incurs a short (2 – 10 second) delay – needs to be allowed for in your timings
  • Check where the display is going to be shown and allow for obstructions; trees, houses, people etc. Although, you may choose to have these included as silhouettes within the scene!
  • When composing your scene also allow for the type of fireworks, obviously rockets and the like will be going much higher in the sky than the ground-based type
  • Adjust the ‘Mode’ dial to Manual as this will allow you to take control of the shutter speed and aperture settings. Although you will have no likely idea just how bright the fireworks will be I can provide settings for a good base to start from. More on this below.
  • I recommend using a low ISO (100-200) as this will provide a much better quality image. Do NOT use ‘auto ISO’ because you’ll be pointing the camera upwards (black sky) and the camera will automatically increase the ISO setting dramatically, giving you a very grainy poor photo
  • With regards to actual settings I suggest a shutter speed of around 3 – 5 seconds initially should be sufficient to capture the launching of rockets into the sky and their subsequent explosion. The aperture will be set around f5.6 – f8
  • Note: The camera’s metering will see all the dark sky and advise/indicate to you the exposure is too dark! This is because as yet the fireworks have not exploded light into the scene
  • Please do not use autofocus as in the dark sky the camera will be unlikely to focus until the rocket explodes – too late! I suggest either pre-focussing on a distant object or manually set the focus to almost infinity. Either way, once set, leave the focus in manual
  • Check the result and either extend the shutter speed slightly or reduce it to ensure the scene is not too bright (burnt out!) and also check the scene in case you need to adjust the composition, perhaps try framing in portrait/vertical or landscape/horizontal.

I do offer feedback on photos so please try the ‘Photo Evaluation’ section within my App to have your image(s) judged and receive constructive feedback from a professional photo competition judge 🙂

Please contact me for more details on improving your photography results and skills, either on a photo course or with one-on-one tuition, or see my web site for more details – thank you.

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