How to Photograph Fireworks

Around this time of year, I’m frequently asked “How do I photographer fireworks?” With a little bit of information, a decent camera, a tripod and a bit of luck, you can get wonderful fireworks photos. Before I go any further, let me start out by saying that when I photograph fireworks, I don’t expect every photo to turn out. In fact, I’m happy if I get 5-10 good shots.

Let’s start with your camera. It should allow you to control the exposure settings. That is you’ll need to be able to have a long exposure and an average aperture setting. Next you’ll need a cable release and a tripod to keep your camera steady during the long exposure. I usually set my camera to ISO200, f5.6 or f8.0. Before the fireworks show starts, I look for an area where I can see the show and yet is away from any light pollution. I set everything up and wait for the show. When the show starts, I take a couple of shots of the first few bursts. I’ll look at the images to see if I need to make any adjustments and then photographer the rest of the show. I’ll try to get several bursts on one image to create a dramatic effect. If you’re lucky you can follow a rocket into the air and then get it exploding for a wonderful shot. Have a great 4th of July.