Some Helpful Tips for Photographing Fireworks

It's that time of year when the sky is alight with exploding colors, and it's a great time to break out your camera and take it to your local fireworks show. This helpful video will give you lots of tips for getting the best possible shots of fireworks. 

Coming to you from Jared Polin, this video gives his tips for shooting fireworks. The great thing about photographing them is that because you're working at low ISOs and narrow apertures, you don't need a super-modern body and expensive, wide-aperture lens; almost any body or lens will work for this (even a kit lens). One of the best tips is compositing fireworks into a single shot. If you're using a tripod, it should be easy to mask in different explosions, allowing you to create a single shot showcasing various colors and looks. Also, be sure to get there with plenty of time to spare. First, you'll want to be able to scout a location that not only gives you a good view of the fireworks, but also renders a good photographic composition and second, you'll want to beat the crowds so you can get your spot. Just be careful that you're not setting up a tripod in a high-traffic area where it might be a problem. Enjoy!

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Rex Larsen's picture

"Compositing fireworks into a single shot" ?
I sure miss the days of real photographs.

Jon Kellett's picture

When it comes to fireworks, I pretty much have to agree!

Alex Cooke's picture

Honest question: How would you feel about a single 10-second exposure that captured a bunch of explosions in a way the naked eye could never see? That was done with film all the time.

Jon Kellett's picture

"It's that time of year when the sky is alight with exploding colors..." Not around here, Alex :-)

John Skinner's picture

Jared Polin for advice on fireworks. Oh my.

Shoot Vertical or Horizontical? Is Horizontical even a word?

I'm one of the 6 people on earth who does not like long exposures of fireworks. They create a dramatic photo....that does not look anything like the fireworks in person. So I shoot shorter exposures that people say look pretty close to the real thing.

Using a tripod for stable photos is only as useful as the firmness of the platform; land is best. There is an annual Fourth of July fireworks held on Lake Murray, South Carolina (about 15 miles from Columbia, SC). The majority go out on boats to watch the fireworks.
I had my Canon A-1, loaded with ISO 400 film, mounted on a tripod, but I was on a pontoon boat. I used a 80-205 f4,5 set at perhaps f11 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds. I used the self timer of 5 seconds to fire the shutter. When I thought I got enough bursts, I cancelled the exposure. There was no frame of reference because once you're on the water at dark, there are no landmarks. There is motion in my photographs because of the wave action on the pontoon.