Fireworks Photography

Photographs of fireworks are fun to take and good to look at. As with so many successful photographs, a little advance planning is necessary to ensure success. If planning to get fireworks photography at a public display, get there early. It makes no difference what the weather is like: even in pouring rain people will flock to see a first class display. Once in position, try to find out where the fireworks will go off.

Many of the most successful shots of fireworks, especially of rockets or other aerial displays, are in fact multiple exposures. There are two ways to achieve these shots. In either case the camera should be set on a tripod and a cable release fitted. Try to ensure that no one will jostle the camera this can be difficult in a crowd. Point the camera at the place where the rockets are expected to explode.

If the camera has a multiple exposure device, take two or three shots of the rockets. For ISO 100 the correct exposure is in the region of 2 seconds at f5.6.

If the camera will not take multiple exposures, set the aperture to the same size but turn the shutter ring to the B or T setting. Have a lens cap or some other device ready for covering the lens. Before the rockets go off, cover the lens and fire the shutter. If using the B setting, keep the cable release depressed. When the rockets explode, take off the cap for about 2 seconds, and then replace it. Repeat this two or three times, then close the shutter by letting go of the cable release (for B) or pressing it again (for T).

Photographs of individual fireworks can be quite effective. Depending on the brightness of the firework, an exposure of 2 to 4 seconds at f5.6 will probably be right. Adjust the aperture size accordingly to the brightness of fireworks.


Flash can also be used for fireworks shots to light something else in the foreground. The exposure could be around 5 seconds at f8. The flash set at f8 to correctly illuminate the boy, while the rest of the exposure time recorded the trail of the sparkler.

More about camera shooting techniques

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