An Introduction to Shooting Better Images of Fireworks

fireworks for the 4th

When it comes to capturing fireworks, you’ll want to do a couple of things first. If you’re looking to do that this 4th of July consider some very basics. First off, you’ll want to get to and claim a good spot for you to see them. Some of the best are along a waterfront or on someone’s rooftop. When you claim your spot, you’ll want to settle in and not move until after the fire show is done.

When that’s been conquered, you’ll want to follow these short tips.

What You Need

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1x product images (1 of 7)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 4.0

In order to capture the fireworks, we recommend that you get your hands on the following gear:

– A DSLR or mirrorless camera with the equivalent of a 18-200mm


– A superzoom point and shoot camera with a large sensor like Sony’s RX10. However, something like a Canon G1X Mk II can do just fine as well.

– A tripod with a good ball head. MeFOTO, Benro, and Manfrotto can offer good options.

That’s really all that you need. What’s going to be key is the stabilization,

Shoot in Shutter Priority or Manual

Overview of EF 20mm on 5DmkII

When you’re shooting fireworks, you’re going to need to ensure that you use a camera with manual functionality. To make this easiest, using shutter priority (marked by the Tv mode) or Manual mode (marked by the M) will be the best to use when photographing fireworks. The reason for this is because when you’re capturing the rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air you’ll want to create a beautiful long streak of light in each photo.

A Slow Shutter Speed, A Low ISO, and a Narrow Aperture


There are specific ways to shoot fireworks, and for the most part it requires this formula:

– Long shutter speed + Low ISO + Narrow aperture = long light trail photos

When you do this and combine it with great framing, you’ll be able capture the light trails that we talked about. When combined with the tripod, you’ll also have lots of stability in your photos.

Just remember to also turn of the image stabilization in your lenses.

Shoot Wide to be Safe, Telephoto for Better Framing

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 VC image samples (34 of 36)ISO 4001-250 sec at f - 3.2

When you’re shooting fireworks going off, you can choose one or two ways of capturing them. The safe way is to capture a very wide scene and also look at the world in a very wide angle or to focus in on one area with your telephoto focal length. The latter is tougher but can be more rewarding.

And lastly, be sure to manual focus out to infinity.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.