Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Photograph Fireworks

Who’s ready for fireworks?  They are saying that our local fireworks are supposed to be bigger and better than ever this year.  Don’t they always say that?  I’m holding them to it.  Well, if I can stay up that late. I do have to work at 8am on the 4th.  Rough, right?  Maybe I’ll just have Nate photograph the fireworks for me. Hmmm…

How to Photograph Fireworks

Here are some tips for capturing awesome fireworks memories:
  • Use a tripod as capturing fireworks requires a long exposure. 
  • Set the focus to manual.
  • Change the adjustment ring to infinity (the sideways 8). 
  • Switch the camera mode to manual (M on Nikon).  Select “Bulb”mode (for Nikon it will say TIME on the screen for the exposure time) and then set the aperture to something between f8 and f16 (I used f16 for all our shots last year).
    • Bulb mode lets you set the amount of time the shutter is open.  Use one press to open the shutter and then another press to close it.  This allows you to leave the shutter open as long as you need to capture the fireworks.
    • If you do not have a remote  then do not use Bulb mode.
  • Use a remote shutter release for best results.
    • Pressing the button on the camera will create shake in the camera and the picture will not be as sharp. 
    • If you do not have a remote shutter release, set the shutter speed to at least 2 seconds (most of my shots were somewhere around 10 seconds) and use the self timer at 2 seconds to avoid shake.
  • These photos were shot in RAW and I did some minimum processing in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw (changed white balance, made the color pop a little bit through the camera profile settings) but shooting in JPEG would work as well.
You can see more fireworks photos from last year here.  Please don’t read the post. I didn’t proof read it.  Be glad Nate doesn’t write this nonsense…

Are you pumped for fireworks?  Anyone else going to have trouble staying up that late?  Any other poor saps have to work on the 4th?


  1. Genius! I've always tried to take pics of fireworks, and they're always sort of small colorful blobs in a black background. LOVE this!

  2. I have to work the day after the 4th, so I don't know how late I can stay out. The 4th of July is my FAVORITE holiday, so it sucks that it's on a Wednesday this year. :(

    That fireworks picture is AMAZING! I'll have to pull up this blog posts when I go see fireworks so I can get my settings right. :)

    Thanks so much for the tips & info.

  3. Ah - I always try to photograph fireworks and Joe always tells me to just watch them! I may have to use these tricks!

  4. These tips won't work for my top-of-the-line Target special. But keep the pretty firework photos coming.
    I love fireworks. My favorite are those glittery, sparkly ones that look like falling stars.

  5. Unfortunately I live in Colorado and fireworks have been banned throughout the state except for 4 shows in the whole state. There's so much devastation so I know it's a good thing! So please have Nate take good photos so I can live vicariously through your fireworks photos!

  6. Gorgeous pictures! I'm definitely going to have to remember your tips!

  7. Love the pictures, nice work! I have to work during the fireworks here, actually 12 hour shifts all week (let the pity party begin!)!

  8. One question... Wouldn't a long exposure make the actual fireworks just colorful streaks in the picture?

  9. Gosh, how beautiful! I'll be honest and admit that I'm not even going to attempt this. So for now will live vicariously through your photo skills.

  10. I don't have to work ON the 4th, but i have to work at 8am on the 5th, so I can't stay out late either :(. thanks for all the tips!

  11. I absolutely LOVE this picture!!! Amazing. What is not amazing though, is how to take could be because I have a headache though.....Sorry you are stuck working on the 4th...pharmacist must be the only ones working that day ;) I am an old soul, so I usually hear the fireworks from my bedroom...and when we do go out to see them, we tend to stay in the car...way too hot, plus the mosquitoes love us.

  12. ooh thanks! I never thought photographing fireworks was possible for mere mortals like me!

  13. Your depth of SLR knowledge is really impressive. I need to get better at it myself, but it's very intimidating.

  14. This is a great tutorial- thanks for sharing your tips! Yes- they do say Bigger & Better every year and it's always the same. But the best part is the whole show is done by 10 pm- even I can manage that! Small towns are great!

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