Basic Tips for Shooting Firework Displays!

July 03, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Independence Day San DiegoIndependence Day San Diego Big Bay Boom - Independence Day 2014

Since we are getting close to Independence day, I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned about shooting fireworks.

  • Scout your location  Think about how you can ground the fireworks and add elements into the frame that reveal your location. This will make your fireworks photographs stand out!
  •  Tripod  The camera needs to be as stable and shake-free as possible.
  •  Cable release   To avoid introducing any sort of shake.
  •  Headlight  In case you are in a place where it is very dark, a headlight will help you to find your way around and keep your hands free.
  •  “Magic black cloth”  I carry a piece of black cloth with me to cover the lens in between fireworks bursts. This will allow you to get multiple bursts into one frame.
  •  Lens choice  Anything from a wide-angle to a mid-telephoto works. It really depends on the look you are trying to achieve. It’s easier to start with a wide-angle lens and then try different lenses.
  •  Manual Mode   I will use the first burst to determine my exposure.
  •  Aperture  start at f/8 – f/16   Again, fireworks are bright, so this will allow me to shoot at smaller apertures and longer shutter speeds. I determine aperture from my first test shot of the first burst.
  •  Low ISO   Fireworks are bright, and you really want to capitalize on the ability to use longer shutter speeds so you can have multiple bursts in one shot.  In between bursts, I will use the magic cloth to cover my lens.
  •  Manual Focus  The first burst is also helping me to set my focus. I will manually focus on the burst and then I lock it. Usually the fireworks are photographed from a distance and shooting at f/8 – f/16 will give enough of a range of acceptable focus.

Let me know if you found these tips helpful. I would love to see some of your shots, and I’m looking forward to capturing this year’s fireworks!

Happy shooting and happy Independence day!


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