This week, we are gearing up for the 4th of July and that means only one thing: FIREWORKS! And taking a photograph of fireworks is no easy task. Before I started studying the subject of photographing fireworks, I read every tutorial I could find. Then, I practiced. Today, I’m going to teach you how to photograph fireworks this July 4th.

how to photograph fireworks

Tip #1: Shutter Speed

You need to start with a slow shutter speed. This will allow you to photograph the entire firework, from the launch to the fade. To do this, you need a long exposure. Start with at least one second {1″}. The longer you set it, the more you’ll capture. Remember, the longer the exposure will create more streaking. Experiment with your shutter speed and see which you like best!

Tip #2: Aperture

Before you shoot, you want to make sure you have the right aperture. Since it’s night time, you are probably thinking that you want a large aperture to let more light in. However, it’s the complete opposite! The slow shutter speed will help compensate for the light. Instead, you want to shoot with a smaller aperture of at least f/ 8.

Tip #3: ISO

Before you shoot, you want to set your ISO. Normally at night, I would tell you to crank the ISO up. But if you do that when photographing fireworks, you’ll get grainy photos. When shooting with a high ISO, you  will illuminate the sky and you don’t want that either. You want a nice dark background. You can shoot comfortably with an ISO of at least 200 for fireworks. You can even go as low as 100!

Tip #4: Point and Shoot Settings

Don’t have a dSLR? Not a problem! You can easily capture firework pictures as well. Use the night setting {long exposure} on your camera. Some point and shoots even have a fireworks setting! By switching to either of these two settings, your flash will be turned off and the camera will pick the correct settings to get the shot.

how to photograph fireworks

Tip #5: Surface and Flash

Now that you have your settings ready, you need to find a solid shooting surface. Whether you use a tripod or a put your camera on a fence or wall, you will need something to eliminate camera shake. Another important thing to remember is to turn off your flash! You don’t want anything competing with the light from the fireworks themselves.

Tip #6: Go Manual

If you can, turn off your auto-focus. The camera may have a difficult time finding what to focus on and you will lose your shot. Instead, use manual focus. Turn the lens to the infinity symbol. Next, try to find something in the distance to focus on or you can just focus on the sky. Once you find something to focus on, you should be able to keep it where it is for the whole show.

Tip #7: Shoot the First Set

Finally, here is a great tip that I have learned. Make sure you are prepared to shoot the first set of fireworks. As the show goes on, there is smoke and wind to compete with and it might make taking the pictures more difficult.

how to photograph fireworks

Your challenge this week is to capture some fire in the sky! If you don’t have fireworks near you, try using the tips above with sparklers. These are fun to take and you can even spell out words or capture different shapes. Don’t forget to share your photos on our Facebook page.

how to take sparkler pictures

New to The 365 Photography Project? Check out our Photography Tutorial Library. Want to see how others are creating their photography photo books? Here’s Denise’s 365 Photography Book.


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