How I photographed Fireworks

I really like taking photos at night, its a lot trickier and lots of trial and error, as well as googling  “how to” .. I’ve always liked seeing photos of fireworks and a few years back tried to take pictures of them.  However this was a huge FAIL…. the only good thing I did was set my camera on a tripod.  I have been doing photo workshops for the past few years and when an opportunity to go to a talk about how to photograph fireworks came up I went.  Pen and paper in hand, I felt like a kid again, eager to learn some tips.

Keep your gear simple ….practice using your gear/camera in the dark, full battery/with a back up and SD card that has room on it.    Learning to set up your tripod and how to use it in the dark.. great tip….put your camera on manual mode, manual focus, turn off your auto focus, if you have a remote control (wireless, cabled, wi-fi app) use it to reduce camera shake.  Camera settings was next – putting the camera on Manual – ISO to 100 or 200 – 2-20 sec exposures – F8 -F22  is a good place to start. Can shoot in raw or Jpeg.  Since you are focusing in the dark, you will have to find a bright spot, auto focus then lock your focus and switch it to M or you put the focus to infinity.  After your first shot, zoom in on your screen and see if you are in focus and any needed adjustments to  your composition.  Since the fireworks show goes on for about 30 min, there is plenty of time to look at what you have photographed and adjust as needed.  During multiple fireworks you can set up a timer in camera (if you camera has this feature) mine doesn’t so I have an intervalometer.  You can cover your lens every 2 sec with a ball cap or cloth then take off again to get the next shot, for 30 sec or by keeping your shutter open with your remote.  Another trick is called blooming – where you are out of focus – then zoom into focus and then back out of focus while our camera is taking the picture.  Sounds cool – but I didn’t attempt this time.

I decided to use bulb mode – I recently discovered how to use this feature and find it so easy.  I have an intervalometer, so my settings were ISO 100 – F11 – and I used the intervalometer and held the button down for as  long as the fireworks were in the sky then released it.  Some shots turned out great and others not so well – I left the shutter open too long so parts were overblown – ARG… the joy of learning.  I didn’t get too creative as I arrived at the fireworks site 15 minutes before they were about to start, so I couldn’t scope out the best location. The fireworks started and I started to photograph them.  Below are some of the photos I took, not too bad for my  kind of first attempt –


fireworks - bobcaygeon -37


If you photograph fireworks and have any other tips…please feel free to share




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