Fireworks on the Fourth – A Photo “How To”

Tomorrow will be the annual “fireworks fest” as we celebrate the country’s anniversary.

Here are some quick tips on taking pictures of fireworks.

1. Put the camera on the “manual” setting so you can dictate a slow shutter speed (below an eighth of a second – better a least a half a second). This will keep the fireworks from getting “clipped”, where the burst is not allowed to finish and is truncated.

Fireworks on Bastille Day

Bastille Day

2. With the slow shutter speed, you probably will need a tripod. Sometimes you can rest the camera on something and get away with a slightly shorter exposure, such as the one here of Bastille Day (France’s big fireworks day). The area was jammed with people, but I was standing next to a tree which helped steady the camera. Make sure you have “image stabilization” on.

3. The fireworks are a lot brighter than you think. You will probably be shooting at f11 or higher at an ISO of 100. After the first big burst, check your LCD and see whether you need to adjust your f stop.

4. To be very steady, use a remote trigger, or if you don’t have one, set the camera timer on 2 seconds so you can get away from the shutter button and allow the camera to stop vibrating.

5. If there is a steady bright light in your frame (like a streetlight), try to keep it out. A very bright, constant light can ruin your picture.

6. Try to include silhouettes of people or lit buildings in your image for locators.

7. Experiment. Most all fireworks images look similar. This one, by David Harp, was shot off a tripod, but from a anchored boat. The resultant image looks like palm trees!

David Harp's Fireworks

From a Boat

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