Every Fourth of July, for just a few minutes, there is a moment of pure magic that takes place on the ground below. As if summoned by some ancient ritual, fireworks shows explode into the sky in an array of colors and shapes. The show starts with a countdown from 10 and then it’s over. But it leaves us all yearning for next time.
Why do we love photographing fireworks in the night sky? There are many reasons to photograph this event for fireworks images:
- To capture memories
- To capture beauty
- To create art
- And to document history
There are few things as beautiful as a fireworks display. Still, many people find it challenging to capture them on camera. With this blog post’s help, you can learn how to photograph fireworks and get some fantastic results.
Find a Good Vantage Point for Photographing Fireworks
Find a good vantage point to photograph fireworks. It’s best to find a spot that is elevated and has an unobstructed view of the sky. If you’re in your backyard, try climbing on top or onto something sturdy, like patio furniture, so as not to obstruct any part from where it will be launched into the air.
Make sure there is no light pollution from buildings or street lamps. Low light pollution works better. You will find it easier to capture fireworks in low-light conditions without any glare coming off lights nearby. If this isn’t possible outside, then go inside somewhere dark but make sure nothing blocks out what would otherwise show up as bright spots against black night skies. When shooting at nighttime, one great place includes building rooftops overlooking cityscapes.
If you’re shooting fireworks in a city, then it’s best to shoot them from up high. You will have an idea of how they look like when seen by someone on ground level. It’s not just as dots or streaks against the sky that are hard for people who don’t know what they really do at night time during this event-filled holiday season! Shoot with your camera pointed towards where those lights would be coming down onto buildings below. Viewers can then see more than one angle. Also, make sure there is no light pollution blocking out any part if possible (but keep safety first).
A good spot for fireworks is hard to come by. Be sure that you’re there early enough so you can stake your claim and make the most of it!
Make sure you keep track of the time that the fireworks will be starting. Here’s the best way to keep track of fireworks’ time: you can use your smartphone. Remember to set alarms on your phone.
Bring a blanket, lawn chair, or another seat to make your experience of photographing fireworks more comfortable. Pack a warm jacket and some snacks to have for later. You’ll thank yourself when the fireworks start exploding in every color imaginable because you’re not feeling hungry or cold!
Use a Tripod to Stabilize Your Camera
A tripod is a must-have for photographing fireworks. That’s because using a tripod will help you get the perfect shot of those bright colors and explosions without any blurriness or shaking from your hands holding onto it! When people look at that photo years down in time, they’ll be able to see every detail.
Find a place to set up your tripod where you’ll have a clear view of the sky and any fireworks that will be shot off. You want your camera at eye level for it not only to capture what’s happening on earth but also above, so make sure nothing is blocking this!
Place the camera on the tripod and make sure it’s level. You can use a bubble level to make sure it’s straight.
Adjust the tripod’s height so that you can see over your head while standing or sitting but still have a clear view of what you’re photographing.
Attach your camera to the tripod with an L-bracket or ball head. Turn on the camera and set it to manual mode.
Use Manual Settings During Fireworks Photography
Of course, you could use fireworks scene mode if your camera has one. However, we find fireworks mode doesn’t do the images justice. Let’s try to make your fireworks shots dazzle. The first thing to do is turn off the flash from the camera in the setting to not go off in the dark and ruin your shot. We can’t count the number of times we’ve seen people trying to take a photo with their camera’s flash turned on when photographing fireworks. This usually results from leaving the camera in automatic mode, but if your flash is firing for any reason, find an option that disables it in your menu. A flash will not help you here and could actually ruin photos due to its sudden burst of light interfering with capturing natural-looking colors before or after bursts of color appearing through explosions overhead!
Have a Good ISO (Brightening or Darkening of Photographs)
A good ISO for capturing fireworks are some of the following:
– 100 – 400 ISO (for night shots) or 800 ISO for daytime fireworks. The higher the number, you will have a brighter photo but more noise in it as well.
Manual Focus While Photographing Fireworks
If your camera gives you the option, simply turn autofocus off. If you leave it on, your camera’s autofocus system will likely “hunt” back and forth because it won’t have a clear object to lock onto. This could cause you to miss the shot altogether. Set your focus using a thing that’s the same distance from where fireworks are going off—like a building or tree in sight of where they’re being lit up by glorious explosions! And enabling focus peaking found most mirrorless cameras can help ensure at least there’ll be no more hunting for what should’ve been easy-peasy. While not quite perfect yet, some people might find this hard with small screens.
Most DSLR lenses and some lenses for mirrorless cameras have a distance scale on the focus ring or in a separate window. This helps you know how close your subject will be, as it can measure distances up to infinity (usually). Hence, chances are, you’ll need this at night if capturing fireworks. Set your lens accordingly but don’t forget that once everything’s set up before taking any photos, not to bump into anything – even by accident!
How To Set the Aperture for Fireworks Photography
Exposure time such as long exposures and short exposures make the biggest difference in firework photography. As far as the aperture is concerned, try starting off at f/8 and adjust from there. This can be especially tricky if you’re in bulb mode since you won’t have any set shutter speed to base your exposure on. If the exposures are too bright, shoot close down to a smaller number like 11 or 13. The brightness will depend on either long exposure or short exposure times.
Simultaneously, if they’re dark open up for more light when you set your camera with numbers like 5.6 or 4, respectively, depending on how long of an exposure time it takes for them because shorter exposure times allow less brightness into the frame than a long exposure.
This could make the image brighter than necessary due to its reflective nature. Practive short exposure and long exposure times to find the best balance.
Experiment with Shutter Speed
I’ve found that experimenting with shutter speed settings is a great way to determine what kind of shots work best for you when you push that shutter release button. Sometimes, I’ll play around with shutter speed and take photos using slow shutter speeds and a long shutter speed than usual to get some really excellent results!
Try using slower shutter speeds (between 1/30th of a second and 4 seconds) for dramatic effects like streaks of light coming out of the firework as it explodes in midair. Or try a faster shutter speed (between 1/500th of a second and 1/4000th), which will create more detailed images. You’ll have a good experience with these shutter speeds, especially when photographing individual fireworks exploding one by one at different intervals.
If you want to capture the fireworks photo in motion, use a tripod and set your shutter speed around 15-30 seconds.
Try Panning Fireworks Shots
I bet you haven’t tried panning when you photograph fireworks. This technique involves following the firework path while you’re shooting so that it appears as though it’s moving across your frame. The effect is best achieved using a longer focal length such as 50mm or 100mm lenses. However, any lens length can be used depending on how fast you want the movement to appear in your shot.
Experiment with Different Angles
When you photograph fireworks, experiment with different angles while hitting the shutter release button and frame your shot. Try shooting your camera from the ground, or try to get high up in a building during shutter release.
Suppose you are on top of something tall like an apartment block. In that case, it is best not to have your camera too close. Closeness will create reflections off your lens which can spoil shots and make them unusable later. If possible, experiment with different angles by getting higher than usual with your camera. There’s less chance for reflection problems.
But still, you’ll have enough room around each side (or even better, at least one whole wall) without any reflective surfaces nearby. Otherwise, just stay down low where no light sources may reflect camera lenses such as street lights (etcetera). If using long of a focal length on fireworks photography, remember these need more space between subject/camera when taking photos due to their narrower field-of-view.
Another idea is to capture some of their reflection on water or other reflective surfaces such as buildings.
Have the Right Gear for Fireworks Shots
Gear plays an important part when taking a photo of fireworks with your camera. You’ll need a camera, lens, and tripod when you go to shoot a fireworks show.
The type of gear you use will depend on the kind of style that is more appealing to your eye. For example, if it’s something like a fireworks show in an urban setting, maybe using long focal lengths would be best. Whereas, when photographing them at night time with lots going off all around might require wide-angle lenses instead, so experiment beforehand!
Finding the Perfect Camera To Photograph Fireworks
Most people don’t need expensive equipment and cameras to take a good photo of fireworks. Any camera that allows shooting in manual mode will work perfectly fine! Some point-and-shoot cameras do, so double check your manual and see how you can switch to manual mode.
However, some great cameras at capturing fireworks include some tremendous low light cameras such as the Nikon D850, Sony a7 III, Canon 5D Mark IV, and Fujifilm X-T3 camera. Having a great camera in low light will reduce the level of noise in the photo and capture more detail.
Lenses for Photographing Fireworks
When it comes to capturing a photo of fireworks, the camera lenses that work the best are wide-angle lenses. We like to use prime lens vs. zoom. Prime lenses are typically sharper and lighter than other types of camera lenses, but they’re more expensive too, and you have to get up close with them for the photo of fireworks to be clear enough without zooming out on your subject matter (which can cause distortion).
A zoom lens is also great at capturing fireworks photos because they allow you to get a broader view of the scene. The downside is that they can be more expensive and heavy. Still, suppose your camera has an image stabilization feature. In that case, it will help reduce any blurriness in photos from shaking hands or motion when shooting fireworks photos with zoom lenses.
With these great tips on shooting fireworks, you’ll be sure to impress your friends and family with your photographs of fireworks in the night sky.
The key to a good fireworks photo is to have a good camera. And have a lens (prime or zoom) that can capture the scene at night without being too dark on one side of the frame while overexposing it in another area from all those bright lights. Also, have some sort of image stabilization feature. So you won’t get any blurriness when shooting photos using zooming lenses for wide-angle shots like I did here!
And remember: always set your camera to RAW vs jpeg if possible because this will give better quality images than JPEGs do as well allow more editing later after taking pictures which means less post-processing time needed before uploading them online.
Also, don’t forget to capture multiple bursts so you can choose the best during a short fireworks display on the Fourth if July. You’ll have a fireworks burst collection to look through at the end. Hope these tips help make photographing firework displays easier next year!!