Last Updated on 06/27/2020 by Chris Gampat
Fireworks photography can produce some truly stunning results. If you’re trying it for the first time, be sure to have this infographic handy.
Fireworks are synonymous with celebrations throughout much of the world. Here in the United States, fireworks are quintessential spectacles during the Independence Day celebrations each year. Larger than life and adored by many, fireworks can add an extra layer of dynamism to your images if photographed properly. If you’ve never attempted fireworks photography before, it can seem like a daunting endeavor. Fear not; in our latest original infographic, we’ll show you everything you need to know to get started with fireworks photography. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with these handy tips, you’ll be ready to create some truly stunning fireworks images.
The Early Bird
When it comes to photographing fireworks, finding the right location can make all the difference. You’ll want to figure out when and where the fireworks display will take place. Armed with this information, take some time and scout the surrounding area for different vantage points and backdrops. More likely than not, there will be other photographers looking to document the fireworks displays as well. You’ll likely have to contend with onlookers and their smartphones too. To ensure you can secure a prime shooting location with an unobstructed view, arrive at the area early on the day of the fireworks display and set up your camera and tripod (hours ahead of when the fireworks are set to go off). Bring some reading material with you to help pass the time. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.
Once you’ve secured an ideal shooting location, and set up your camera and tripod, you’ll want to sort out your settings. The last thing you want is to miss a shot because you’re futzing around with your camera settings while the fireworks are going off. Generally speaking, the following settings will give you the best results when photographing fireworks:
- Set your camera to manual focus and lock it to infinity.
- Shoot at narrow apertures: f8 or f11 are good starting points.
- Set your camera to it’s base ISO value (typically ISO 100 or ISO 200, but this can vary depending on your particular camera).
- Long exposures are your friend when it comes to photographing fireworks, so make sure you’re using a slow enough shutter speed (at least five seconds or longer).
Depending on the camera and lens you’re using, you may want to disable the image stabilization as well: they can sometimes cause undesired effects when mounted on a tripod. A remote shutter release can also be helpful to minimize the camera shake that comes from manually depressing your camera’s shutter. Remote shutter releases will also allow you to shoot in bulb mode for extended long exposures.
Shooting long exposures for extended periods can cause some cameras to overheat. When this happens, batteries are prone to draining very quickly. The last thing you want is to get to a perfect location but not be able to capture any images. Make sure you pack a few spare batteries with you just in case. Some newer cameras can be powered via a USB connection as well, so a large portable battery can also be used to keep your camera juiced up.
Superzoom Lenses Are Best
Although most photographers tend to gravitate towards wide-angle lenses when photographing fireworks, superzooms can actually be lifesavers. Superzooms cover a huge focal range and allows for a great deal of compositional variety. You can shoot wide to capture the entire scene or punch in to really focus on specific details. Superzooms are also helpful in case you’re unable to secure a prime shooting location. Find higher ground and zoom in to get rid of any unwanted obstacles that may be in your field of view.