How To Photograph Fireworks

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Learning how to photograph fireworks can be a lot of fun. There is an amazing opportunity to use long, slow exposures to create beautiful light trails bursting with colour.

How To Photograph Firworks

Learn How To Add a Creative Edge to Photographing Fireworks

Top 12 Tips for Photographing Fireworks
  1. Practice.  If you have never photographed at night practice using your camera in the dark before the fireworks display. This will give you time to get used to using your camera in the dark
  2. Use a tripod.  This ensures that the camera will not move during a long exposure.  Remember to turn image stabilisation (IS) or vibration reduction (VR) on your lens to off.
  3. Use a Remote Release.  As you are using slow shutter speeds to capture trailing bursts its best to use a remote release to trip the shutter.
  4. Scout the Location.  Best to arrive early so that you pick the best viewing point.  If you were at the fireworks display last year you will have a feel of the location and know the best point to get your shots.
  5. Check Wind Direction.  Fireworks create a lot of smoke and the last thing you want is the smoke blowing directly at you as this will make your images less clear.  Find a spot where the wind is blowing away from you, either at your back or to the side of you.  If there is now wind get your shots on the first burst of lights before smoke builds in the sky.
  6. Use Manual Focus.  It’s difficult to auto focus in the dark, especially when you are shooting on anticipation of the firetrails.  Watch a couple of bursts to see their position and manually focus your lens.  You can also set your lens to infinity if you have this option on your lens.
  7. ISO.  Use an ISO of 100-200.  Low ISO gives clearer pictures and helps with long exposures.
  8. Aperture.  Use an aperture of f/11 – f16.  This gives a enough focal distance to help keep your shots in focus should the bursts be in slightly different positions in the sky
  9. Shutter Speed.  This is where the fun starts.  Experiment with different shutter speed to achieve different results to the trailing firebursts.   Start off with 4 seconds and see how it looks.  Periodically check your results to ensure you are achiving correct exposures.  Fireworks are bright bursts of light and you need to take care not to overexpose your images.
  10. Use Manual Mode.  This will give you more control and help you to achieve the look and feel you want to your photographs.  If you have never used manual mode, set your camera to shutter speed priority (TV, S.)  Control aperture by setting ISO.
  11. Framing.  Experiment with different compositions.  To give context to your image include people, landmarks or buildings in the foreground.  If the fireworks display takes place near water include reflections in your shots.  And lastly get a few colourful shots of the fireworks themselves as they burst and trail in the night sky.
  12. Pack a Torch.  It’s dark so best to take a small torch to help you see your camera and its settings.

You are ready to go!  Have a great time, and post any of your favourite fireworks photos to our Facebook page, London Photo Tours and Workshops Facebook Page.  or share on our Flickr Photography Courses Group.

About the Author

Lou Smith

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Lou Smith is a Fine Art Photographer who has a passion for sharing her photography skills. With over 25 years teaching experience Lou delivers photography courses in London with expert and experienced tuition. Lou is well prepared to help you improve your photography and take photographs you love.

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