How to Shoot [photograph] Fireworks

Happy Birthday USA!
Quick and Dirty Tips for Shooting Fireworks:

[If you want an in-depth step by step check out the video above from creativeLIVE]

1. Use a Tripod
You’ll want to make sure your camera is stable and secure. Check out some support systems here.

2. Remote Release
Invest in a remote release device. You can also use the timer shutter release function – but a remote release is the best option.

3. ISO
Shoot a low ISO. I recommend 100.

4. Focal Length
Timing is key with fireworks. You’re going to have to anticipate where the action is happening before it happens. This can be tricky if you’re shooting with a longer focal length and trying to stay tight. A wider focal length makes this easier, but experiment a bit. Zoom in and see if you get lucky. If you shoot wide, you can always go back and crop for the desired effect as well.

5. Aperture
Fireworks are BRIGHT. You dont need a really fast lens and the general consensus is that somewhere between f/8 to f/16 will work.

6. Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is going to be the most important aspect of your fireworks capture. A long exposure is what you’re going to want to go for. Shooting “bulb” with a remote release is the best technique. Hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until it’s finished. This could be a few seconds. At the same time,
don’t keep your shutter open too long. Remember: Fireworks are BRIGHT. Just because its dark doesnt mean that you wont completely blow out your photos if you keep the shutter open too long.

7. Framing
Get to your location a bit early. What’s in the foreground and background? Try to figure our where the fireworks are being set up and where they will end up in they sky. You will have to aim before the fireworks go off. If you are really on it – ask the folks coordinating the display for some advance information. This will be a big help. Consider your lens selection before the show start. Are you going to shoot horizontal or vertical? Dont forget how you’ve framed it up because when you’re in the dark, you might spend a lot of time looking directly at the fireworks display rather than through the viewfinder.

8. “No flash photography”
A flash will do nothing but crush your photos and leave you with smoke…turn it off or leave it at home.

Have a great Fourth of July and share some of these photos in the comments section for Thursday morning!

32 Responses to How to Shoot [photograph] Fireworks

  1. Noreen July 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Thank you, John. I loved your style and presentation. Very easy to listen to and lots of great information for someone like me. All the best!

    • Matthew Magbee July 5, 2012 at 6:38 am #

      Here is my 1st attempt at fireworks. I did ask the event coordinator about the location and where the fireworks would be launched from. After setting up and a 45 min delay …. we learned that the location was changed. My framing is all wrong becaue of it , but here is my shot anyways.
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/magbeephotography/7479098792/

  2. Si Hawkings July 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Great vlog!

    I took this set using similar methods a while back.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28200022@N02/sets/72157625202106001/

    Always great fun shooting fireworks!

  3. Steve July 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    I was wondering if Long Exposure Noise Reduction is turned off? It you are clicking away between 0.5 and 4.0 seconds the delay for the the NR to complete could be annoying…

  4. faisal July 4, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    AWesome tips, they never go out of trend.

  5. Maria E July 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    You are Fantastic John!, I <3 U

  6. Christy Harper July 5, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Thanks for this post! To bad I didn’t get to take any this year, we had rain. Happy 4th of July Chase :)

  7. DanielKphoto July 5, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Nice tips chase! Though I think you missed out on a very important part: the focusing. You gotta make sure that it’s on manual focus and that you’ve focused it the way you want before the happening starts. Otherwise your camera is going to try to focus, but it won’t be able because everything’s so dark. Most cameras won’t take a shot at all when that happens. So you might want to include that, although the fourth of July is past already :P

    Nice post anyway :)

  8. fireworksstoreonline October 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Practice on a few fireworks devices of your own. Best fireworks stores online to buy fireworks at wholesale prices is http://www.fireworksstoreonline.com. wholesale pricing to the public everyday.

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    comunque interista cane bastardo nun m romper o cazz? e non commentare piu pisciazza……se tieni le palle vieni a napoli ti facciamo vedere una bella cosa…stronzo non commentare piu

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  11. VFF April 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Nice tut. In next time I will take photos from my own fireworks.

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  14. Dan Oksnevad July 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Great tips! I agree, shooting “bulb” with a remote release is the best technique. And always remember your tripod!

  15. faisal July 5, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Best is remote release, easy.

  16. Spiros September 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Yes these are the exact settings that we fotorgaph our fireworks in Greece!

  17. Yvette Waters October 2, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Mr. Jarvis,
    How do you photograph a bride and groom with fireworks in the background?

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