Photography Tips - Fireworks

Photography Tips - Fireworks

If you are celebrating New Year’s Eve with a bang, here are some simple techniques for taking great shots of fireworks.


Be Prepared

When you are photographing fireworks, planning is key. Make sure you have enough memory cards and batteries. You will need a tripod, a wide-angle or a telephoto zoom lens depending on how you want to frame your shots, and remember to arrive early. Place the camera on a tripod, and turn the mode dial to M (manual) mode. Set your aperture to at least f/11 – f/16 for a large depth of field and set your focus to infinity. For a really dramatic result, try to capture multiple fireworks trails across the sky. 



Include People

Position yourself in a good spot at the center of the action. It’s a great idea to include the heads of other visitors, as it gives a sense of perspective and dimension. Wait for multiple fireworks to go off, and use a cable release to take the photo. Don’t use flash because it could ruin the effect in the image, and take a longer exposure to catch various stages of breath-taking fireworks.



Use a Slow Shutter Speed

When it comes to shutter speed, you should pick a slow exposure, anywhere between 1 – 15 seconds in order to capture the light trails. The longer the exposure, the more lines will appear and the longer they will look. Any faster would not catch the extended moment of the fireworks exploding. You should take the image using the camera’s self timer or a cable release so that you can avoid camera shake. If you don’t have anything to hold your camera steady, increase your camera’s sensitivity to light by increasing the ISO. This will give you shorter exposures without blurs, but be prepared for more grain or ‘noise’ in your fireworks pictures.



Click Away

Snap up the action, but avoid shutter lag (the time it takes between pressing the trigger and the camera taking the picture) by keeping the shutter button pressed halfway. When the right moment comes, press all the way down to instantly capture the desired image. Let the smoke clear away before taking your next shot, so as to reduce the need to edit the fireworks photos with software later.



Recommended Equipment

Always take a tripod – there’s no other way to use a long shutter speed without getting camera shake. Use a telephoto zoom lens if the fireworks display is far away from you or a wide-angle lens if you want to capture the surroundings or the people at the event too. Remember to use a low ISO for a high quality image and you can also choose a small aperture for a sharp picture, although your camera must be on a tripod for this. Use a shutter release cable or a remote to take the picture – you can’t use self timer as you can’t predict exactly when the firework will go off.




One of the most important things when it comes to shooting fireworks is timing. You don’t want to capture it taking off or when it has finished so try to anticipate the key moment. With some practice you will be able to catch some stunning and attractive images worthy of your portfolio!

Posted by Graham Fry
31st December 2018

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