We’re off to celebrate the holiday today, but first, how to shoot fireworks! Shooting fireworks are not too complicated in terms of photography, it’s just a long exposure, a photo taken for a few seconds versus a quick snap.
You’ll need a DSLR, preferably, otherwise a point & shoot camera with manual controls or a fireworks mode.
With longer shots, the camera needs to be off you and on a tripod. Any movement shows in the photo so you can’t hand hold your camera.
If you can’t hold your camera, you can’t touch it either. The camera’s two-second timer will work to catch fireworks but a cheap shutter release lets you control the camera manually.
Spare Battery & Memory Card
It’s the one thing everyone forgets but make sure you have spare charged batteries and spare empty memory cards! You don’t want to be midway through fireworks and realize your camera can’t take any more photos.
A flashlight is a must, for those unfamiliar with your camera this lets you adjust things in the dark so you’re not hunting for a button or potentially have an accident.
You can set the shutter speed between 2-8 seconds or better yet use bulb mode. Bulb mode working with a release gives you the option of pushing down the button when the firework launches and stopping after the pop, getting the timing perfect. An aperture around f/8 and ISO 100-200 will get the rest as your shooting a light source in this case. If this sounds too complicated look through your camera’s scene settings for a fireworks option.
Make sure to switch off vibration reduction/image stabilization on your lens. While normally this is a good tool for preventing handshake in your photos, on a tripod it actually hurts your images.
Early bird gets the photo
Get there early before it gets dark! This lets you find a good spot for composition, not accidentally have a nasty power line in your photo, focus your camera, and level out the shot. Once it’s dark if you find you do need to refocus your camera just max out your ISO. It’s going to make for a horrible photo but we’re just looking for focus. Take a shot and see where you are focused, adjust, and try again.
Timing is key!
Time the shot out so that you capture it from the start as it heads up for a nice trail to your blast. This is where bulb mode and the camera release can be useful, as long as you hold down the button the camera is shooting so you can catch single fireworks.
Watch for smoke
Early fireworks are going to make the best photos. As the event goes smoke builds up unless there’s a breeze so the first few moments are your best chance.
Grand Finale = A ton of light
And watch out for the grand finale, more fireworks = more light, you’ll have to lower your shutter speeds as otherwise, you’ll have a super bright image.
Don’t plant yourself, getting multiple angles will make for great photos. A bunch of photos from one spot is nice but variety helps! Have fun, it’s a holiday!