Now that summer is upon us and the 4th of July is coming up, I thought I’d give you some of my best tips on how to photograph fireworks! Fireworks are one of my favorite parts of any celebration, and I was able to perfect my skills when we went to Dove Mountain two years ago. (Yes, this post has been brewing in my mind for two years.)
How to Photograph Fireworks
1. Get a tripod. I bought one from Walmart for $49.99. Best $49.99 I ever spent. It came with a bag for easy carrying, and it’s probably 66″ – when it’s fully extended, I can use it comfortably (I’m about 5’10”).
2. Turn your camera to manual. You’re never to going to learn how to photograph fireworks in auto. Focus your lens and switch off auto focus. I used my 50mm, f/1.2 for these photographs, but you don’t need a super fast lens for fireworks. Given our location, I just liked the way the pictures looked compared to 16-35mm f/2.8 lens.
3. Switch your ISO to 100. I used an f/8.0 and an shutter speed of 6.0 seconds. You may need to play around with it and see what works for you. 10.0 seconds was too long for me. I shot the finale at 2.5 seconds, but it was the only image that I shot at that shutter speed. Everything else was ISO 100, f/8.0, shutter speed 6.0 seconds. I didn’t use a remote shutter release at all, but you could if you wanted to minimize camera shake. You can also do the 2 second release.
How to Photograph Fireworks – Post-Processing
I edit all my photos using Adobe Lightroom, so I recommend DoubleConvex.com’s fireworks presets. These presets do a great job of bringing out the natural colors in the fireworks, minimizing the appearance of smoke, and allowing you to quickly adjust the black.
When cropping photos, consider it from different angles. Sometimes centering it looks best. Compare the vertical and horizontal. Use the rule of thirds to play with composition. Try to fill the frame. Leave a lot of black space. The beauty of learning how to photograph fireworks is that you can do so many things during post-processing.
How to Photograph Fireworks – Final Thoughts
Learning how to photograph fireworks was really easy – once I learned to set my camera and forget about it. Know that you want to try and shoot at the beginning as much as possible so that you can minimize the smoke interference, but it will show up in your pictures as the firework show goes on.
For More on How to Photograph Fireworks
(and tips & tricks):