How to Take Great Fireworks Pictures

Fireworks pictures attempt to capture the action with a colorful play of lights. Some photographers may feel frustrated with capturing the elusive right moment when it comes to fireworks. Here are a few suggested tips to improve firework photographs:

Step 1: Do Not Forget to Use a Tripod

Cameras will capture any movement or detail occurring while the shot is being taking. Photograph fireworks using longer shutter speeds to capture the movement and change of colors. Use a tripod to keep the camera still while taking the shot.

Step 2: Consider a Remote Release

Remote shutters make it easier for photographers to capture images of fireworks. These are accessories which are bought separately. Purchase one fit for the brand and model of camera. Newer cameras also have self timers which allow the device to photograph after a specific amount of time. To use this feature effectively, photographers will need to know when the right moment will occur and adjust the timer settings accordingly.

Step 3:  Compose the Image

One of the more difficult aspects of photographing fireworks involves thinking where to position the camera and aim the lens before the action starts. Photographers who know in advance where the fireworks will be coming from or will be seen should plan beforehand where to go and setup the equipment. Finding an area with a clear vantage point to where the fireworks will be seen is necessary to be able to compose the shot without worrying about bumping into other observers (or including people’s heads in the shot). Think of the horizon line and whether the image will be taken vertically or horizontally.

Step 4: Determine Focal Length

It is difficult to direct the lens at the right spot at the right time, using the right settings. With photographing fireworks, it is better to photograph using a wider focal length and crop afterwards. If tight shots are needed, bring a spare camera with a different zoom lens for this purpose.

Step 5: Determine Aperture and Shutter Speed

Fireworks emit enough levels of bright light for short periods of time. Work with apertures between the small to mid level range of around f/8 - f/16. More important is the shutter speed. With the amount of movement in the sky, use longer shutter speeds to capture the movement. Hold the shutter half way down to allow some light in. Do it the moment before the explosion and let go after a few seconds. Remember not to hold it too long, otherwise the image will be overexposed.

Step 6: Choose a Low ISO

With the amount of detail and light during a fireworks display, a low ISO is more preferred. Use ISO 100 for cleaner shots.

Step 7: Use the Manual Mode

Avoid using autofocus when photographing fireworks. The changing amount of light makes it difficult for the camera to focus properly. Keep the flash off. There is no use for flash because of the distance between the photographer and the fireworks.

A fireworks display lasts only for a few minutes in most cases. Take a few shots during the beginning to check if the settings are okay. Photograph other elements for a different view.