Fireworks can result in beautiful photos, but the task of capturing fireworks in your own photos can be intimidating if you’ve never tried it. Thankfully, photographing fireworks isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some simple tips that you can follow to ensure that you come away with quality photos.
1. Consider the Background
While fireworks may be the main reason you’re interested in taking the photos, think about the background and the composition of your shots.
There are a few options when you’re photographing fireworks. You could line up in a position that allows you to capture only the fireworks on a plan black sky. While these photos can be beautiful, incorporating other objects into your photos will typically make the end result more interesting.
The options available to you will depend on the surroundings and where you are shooting. If you’re in a city, you may be able to position yourself to capture the fireworks along with the skyline. Or, you might want to capture people on the ground watching the fireworks.
Ideally, you’ll want to consider these factors ahead of time and get yourself in the position of your choice before the show begins. Since you’ll be working with a limited amount of time, it’s best to be set and in position so you have as many opportunities as possible to photograph the fireworks.
2. Find a High Spot
Assuming you don’t want people in your shot, it’s best to find some high ground. Again, take some time before the show begins to scout out the location and find the spot where you want to set up.
3. Set Up Your Tripod
In order to get sharp photos of fireworks, you’ll need to use a tripod. You’re going to be using slow shutter speeds, so any handheld shots are sure to be blurry.
Depending on your position and what is around you, you’ll probably want to extend your tripod legs to the maximum length so your camera is high, to avoid people or other objects getting in the way.
4. Turn Off Vibration Reduction
In most cases, you’ll get sharper results if you turn off vibration reduction when you are shooting from a tripod. The vibration reduction is intended for handheld shots and since you’ll be relying on a tripod for stability, it’s best to turn this setting off.
5. Use a Cable Release
Since getting the sharpest images possible is the goal, any possible movement that you can reduce or eliminate will help you to get closer to that goal. It’s possible that even pressing the button to open the shutter will cause a slight vibration or movement. By using a cable release, you won’t need to touch the camera to take the photo.
6. Shoot in Manual or Bulb Mode
Manual mode will give you full control over the settings of your camera, but bulb mode is likely to be more practical for photographing fireworks. With bulb mode, instead of setting a specific shutter speed, the shutter will remain open as long as the button is pressed (or by use of the cable release).
Determining the shutter speed can be tricky with fireworks, because you don’t know how long the burst will last. Using bulb mode you can start to take the photo at the beginning of the burst, and then stop the photo when the light from that firework is gone.
7. Use Manual Focus
Auto focus may not be the most reliable when you are photographing fireworks. Using manual focus is recommended in order to ensure that you get sharp photos.
Since you’ll be photographing from a tripod, you can set the manual focus and leave it set unless you change your focal length.
8. Choose Your Focal Length
You could use a wide angle lens, a standard lens, or telephoto, depending on your distance to the fireworks and what you want to capture.
9. Choose Your Aperture
Generally, an aperture somewhere around f/8 – f/11 should work well for photographing fireworks, but of course, you can experiment with this.
10. Use a Low ISO
In order to avoid noise or grain in your photos, set a low ISO. An ISO of 100 should be good.
Gear for Photographing Fireworks
Aside from a camera and lens, here are a few items that you’ll want to have with you.
- Tripod – Necessary for sharp photos.
- Cable release – Helps to avoid any movement caused by pressing the button.
- Spare battery – You don’t want a dead battery to ruin your opportunity.
- Memory card with plenty of space – You’ll be taking a lot of photos in a short time.
- Flashlist – Useful for finding your gear and checking your settings after it gets dark.