Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How To Take Fireworks Pictures



With the 4th of July Holiday coming up on Monday, I bet quite a few people are planning to go out and try to get some cool fireworks pictures ...


While I am by no means an "expert" on fireworks photography, I have captured a few nice images over the years (including the one above). As such, I feel I'm qualified to offer up a few ...

Tips for better fireworks photography this 4th of July


  • Use a tripod. Keeping your camera steady is especially important when shooting at night, or with a longer exposure. (If you have a dSLR, you might also consider locking the mirror up, and using a remote shutter release device)


  • Set your camera for a 1 to 5 second exposure. If your camera has the capability, you can use either "shutter priority", or manual mode. If you have a point and shoot camera, set it to the "night-time scenery mode". By using a longer exposure, not only will you avoid having to "guess" when the firework is going to explode in the sky; you'll also be able to capture a sense of "motion". The picture above was a 2 second exposure. Had it been taken at something like 1/200th of a second, all you would probably only see is a scattering of blue or possibly even white dots.


  • Stop down to a smaller aperture. If you're shooting in manual mode, don't be afraid to stop down to F8.0 or even F11. The last thing you want when trying to shoot fireworks is a shallow depth of field ... much better if the whole scene is in as sharp a focus as possible.


  • Focus Manually. Speaking of focus, if your camera has the ability, set your focus to manual, find a good target off in the distance, and take a few practice shots before the actual fireworks show begins. No matter how good the auto focus function on your camera is, none of them work very well in the dark ... you will end up with out-of-focus shots.


  • Consider the Foreground and Background. Pictures of fireworks exploding in the dark sky can be dramatic and cool; but they have no context ... they could have been taken anywhere. If there is a distinctive landmark or skyline that you can include your shots, it will definitely serve to enhance the story; and your memories.


  • Take a lot of pictures. Fill up that memory card. No matter how well you prepare, your ratio of "throw-a-ways" to "keepers" is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or 15 to 1. And even those keepers will require some photoshop work ... at the very least adjustments to white balance are likely to be needed.


  • Have Fun! As easy as it can be sometimes when you have a camera "glued" to your face, don't forget to pay attention to your family and friends ... especially if you have kids. Mentally capturing that look of wonder on your son or daughter's face as they watch the show is often way more rewarding than even the perfect digital image of colorful "bombs bursting in air".

Well, that's my advice for 4th of July photography. I hope you found it helpful ... and I hope it assists you in getting some awesome fireworks shots this year.


Enjoy the holiday!

30 comments:

  1. [...] How to Take Fireworks Pictures – by my friend Todd Morris. I’m not much of a photographer myself, so I appreciate the tips and advice offered on taking good fireworks pictures. Now, if I could just manage to keep my thumb from appearing in photos I take with my digital camera, I’d be a happy camper. [...]

    ReplyDelete
  2. this one is great. it will help me a lot.much useful for me.very well written.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great tips. I live in California, so fireworks this year were sacrificed in many communities with serious fiscal crises. Those that did have fireworks actually looked rather indulgent in these challenging times of our economy. But there is nothing more awe-inspiring than the sky lit by bright explosions and sparks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good post, no wonder when i take photos of fireworks they always come out blurry and quite poor. Ill see if i can rectify that on my bday when i order some more fireworks

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good advice. Especially about the tripod. I remember the good 'ole days of film, and digital is MUCH easier and CHEAPER when taking tons of photos. Also nice to see the photos so soon after taking them, to see if any changes need to be made when shooting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love capturing fireworks picture but i never got the prints well enough. Now i hope by using your described techniques i can get much better pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  7. manchesterescortsJuly 14, 2009 at 9:54 PM

    Great post, very informative. I think a lot of people will find this very useful.Keep post in coming future as well!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, great picture1 I wish our 4th of July pics turned out this well! Thank you for the advice.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good post, when ever i take photos of fireworks they always come out blurry. thanks for your advice

    ReplyDelete
  10. you have given a very great idea to shoot the good phtos i liked it & it is very true for the photography if you want it to have a good pic then you have to follow some criteria then you'll get that!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Now my camera will going to rock these world

    ReplyDelete
  12. these really are great fireworks and i hope many people will like to read it out. You should have uploaded more and more pics of fireworks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What should I do if I am using a digital camera? How is it different from a traditional camera?

    ReplyDelete
  14. i was always trying to have a good photo of fireworks but was not succeeded in that but thanks you gave me the idea i liked it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. studentmicroscopesJuly 29, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    If you are using a digital photograph of fireworks is there a way to create a high resolution image that will not look grainy when magnified? It doesn’t need to be perfect under a discount student microscope, but a nice looking blow up image would be nice.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love Fireworks - taking pictures of them is really hard though. This information was helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey using tripod is a good idea

    ReplyDelete
  18. thanks for the idea i liked it because i always try to become a perfect photographer &m i feel very happy when i get it done!

    ReplyDelete
  19. So gorgeous! I have a decent camera for a beginner (Canon 1000D), I'll have to try taking photos of fireworks the next time Australia Day rolls around, although my skills are amateur at best.

    ReplyDelete
  20. i am very keen to take the pictures of the fast moving cars i know your tip will work i9n that too!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's awesome! I've always wanted to try photography but it's quite an expensive hobby. May be in the future when I can afford to buy a camera for professionals.

    ReplyDelete
  22. HA! I wish I would've read this a week ago when I went to a fireworks show. All my pictures were blurry and not great quality at all. At least I know for future reference. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. thanks for your suggestions, I will use it next year by Redentore in Venice, one of the biggest fireworks happening in the World!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. timberlakejustin321August 9, 2009 at 10:24 PM

    Now i''ll show my inner photographer.lol

    ReplyDelete
  25. That's very cool skill. I remember I have taken photo during river festival back in my days in Brisbane, but the photo just sucks ;(

    Thanks for the tips! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I took some stunning shots of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House and having that landmark in the background sure made a difference.

    It amazed me how many people were taking photos without a tripod though, I reckon they were going to be pretty disappointed with the photos.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..A Whole Lot Of Link Luvin Going On =-.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for the info - Ive always struggled with night shots of cities etc. My wife and I are about to go on a boat trip in the Sydney harbour the coming week so I'll make sure I take a copy of these tips - fingers crossed i can get some nice pics!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nice tips my towns are going to held a firework on my city day
    hope i can catch some nice shoot with this tips
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great tips, Todd! Mine always end up looking trippy - all squiggly with trails and tails.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey Heather .. sometimes the squiggly with trails and tails can be cool ... as long as your camera is held still :-)

    ReplyDelete