How To Photograph Fireworks

The Fourth of July is almost here! Fireworks Displays are beautiful and spectacular and at the same time challenging subjects, to capture.
Wondering about photographing fireworks ? Check out following tips on how to capture great photographs of firework displays.

Use a Tripod & Remote Release

Keep your camera still by using a sturdy tripod and remote to fire the camera. A remote release will ensure that you won’t have to physically touch the shutter release thus eliminating the possibility of camera shake.
If you don’t have a tripod handy, place your camera on a makeshift solid platform, like a railing,a fence post or a wall. None of them are as steady and convenient as a tripod, but they are definitely better than hand-holding.

Photo Credit : Norman Wilkinson

Do remember to bring an extra battery, as long exposures tend to use them up quickly.

Find a good location

Scout your location ahead of time and get there early to choose your vantage point. Nab yourself a great spot without any trees or obstacles in the way of the sky. Think about the foreground and background elements of the scene and plan on how you would incorporate them. One way of getting an interesting foreground is to incorporate silhouettes. Buildings, trees, and even people can all make for great silhouettes. Set focus on an area of sky where the fireworks will be, or on an object the same distance away. Make sure that you don’t have people’s heads bobbing up into your shots.

Focal Length

The focal length depends on your distance from the fireworks and the composition you’re looking for.
Wide angle lenses are a good choice as they allow you to add context to your image instead of focusing solely on the firework itself. Telephoto lens will allow you to get up close and personal with the fireworks, but they’re more difficult to use.


Use a mid-range f-stop as apertures in the mid to small range work reasonably well. Start at f/8 and work towards f/11 or f/16 if required. Avoid using wide apertures, as they would probably overexpose the colors.

Shutter Speed

Set your shutter speed to between two and ten seconds in order to capture the light trails. Longer shutter speeds will record longer radiating trails of the fireworks bursts.
A great way to capture action is to shoot in ‘bulb’ mode. This mode allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter, preferably using a remote shutter release. Hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until the burst has faded, generally a few seconds.


Turn off the automatic ISO function. Set your ISO low, like 100 or 200. The higher the ISO, the more noise will occur into your images.

Switch off your Flash

The fireworks themselves are very bright and provide all the light you want. Using your camera’s flash won’t do anything to help your shot. Conserve your batteries and set your flash to “off.” So, go flash-less.

Shoot in Manual Mode

Switch to manual mode as it will give you more control over your exposure parameters. Set your aperture to f5.6 or f8 as these are pretty optimal for fireworks as the light streaks are controlled by the size of the aperture. Closing down more will make the light trails thinner, opening up more will make them wider and too over exposed.

Good luck, and have fun!


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