Take Pictures Of Fireworks

Taking Pictures of Fireworks Improves Your Photography

Why do I say this?

Because taking photos of fireworks brings into play most of the settings, and some of the pressure, you will encounter in almost all other photography.

Spectacular Fireworks Display

Fireworks photography teaches you the most important aspect of photography, the exposure triangle or the way that the ISO, shutter and aperture combine to create the perfect image.

With fireworks photography you have a combination of an absence of light (most fireworks happen at night – right?) and a burst of powerful light (the fireworks) visible for a very limited time.

Learning how to handle this combination is an art in itself.

To Take Pictures of Fireworks You Need The Right Combination Of:

ISO (also referred to as ASA). This is the film “speed”.  There is no “film” with digital cameras but there are pixels; the digital equivalent of film.  Pixels are the dots that make up the image.  The higher the ISO the brighter the image will be but what will also affect it is referred to as “noise”.  Essentially, and without getting too technical, this means a grainier (less sharp) image. You need a fairly high ISO for taking photos of fireworks but still want to keep it as low as possible. For fireworks photography try not to exceed ISO 400

Well Composed Picture of Fireworks with lighthouse in foregroundAperture setting or f-stop. The aperture setting is the size of the aperture allowing the light in.  It works like the pupil of your eye.  The bigger the aperture the more light that enters the camera and vice versa.  The confusing thing about apertures and the f-stop number is – the smaller the f-number the wider (bigger) the aperture. The aperture setting also influences the depth of field – or what parts of the image will be in focus.  This time the smaller the f-number the smaller (more shallow) the depth of field creating a sharper image with a blurred background. Taking photos of fireworks is usually done from a distance so use a medium f-number as you want a sharp image but can never be absolutely sure of the distance from the lens – chances are you won’t have time to focus and then shoot.

Shutter Speed. Determines how long the shutter is actually open to allow the light in (like your eye lid).  Shutter speeds can vary from several minutes (and even longer) to 1/8000th of a second. The longer the shutter speed the more likely you are to have camera shake. For this reason, and others, a tripod is recommended.  For fireworks photography you will need  a shutter speed that is fast enough to capture the action and slow enough to capture the detail.  This is where knowledge and experience of using the correct combination of ISO, shutter seed and aperture control come in.

These three elements in photography are referred to as the “exposure triangle” and it is important to understand and master this if you want to take good photographs.  As I said earlier taking photos of fireworks is a great way to learn quickly.

Setting Up to Take Pictures of Fireworks

Golden Fireworks display over water with dark backgroundWhere to Aim. Sounds obvious but … the first thing you need to know is where to aim.  Where in the sky, relative to your camera position, the fireworks will be exposing their beauty. No point in aiming off to one side only to discover they are popping off somewhere else.

Set up Your Tripod.  Yes you will need a tripod as it will make your job so much easier and your photos so much better by reducing camera shake.  If you don’t have  tripod invest in one. They range in price from about $25.00 upwards but you get what you pay for.  If you buy a light cheap set up chances are you will soon be looking for another one.  You need something that is solidly built to hold your camera steady and withstand wind.  Shop around for a sturdy second hand one if finances are a concern. The best and most popular tripods are the Manfrotto range.  Well worth the money, will last you a lifetime and hold their value.

Dial in the Settings on Your Camera. Set the ISO, Aperture and shutter speed before hand.  Take your first picture and review it.  Where adjustments are needed make them quite dramatic to get to the perfect setting quicker.  So for example if your ISO is 400 and shutter speed was 1/60th of a second and the picture was underexposed either increase the ISO to 800 or slow the shutter down to 1/30th of a second.  Review and adjust again.

Use a Remote Shutter Release. Avoid using your hands to press the shutter.  You will likely press down hard, and suddenly, on the shutter (as the fireworks go off and you try to capture the image) resulting in camera shake. A remote shutter release is the answer.  Easy to set up and easy to use.

Composing the Shot. When taking pictures of fireworks it’s not easy to compose the shot by planning ahead but there are a few things you need to think about.  Firstly if the fireworks are in the far distance you can still include some foreground material to create depth and interest.

If you are really close to the action do you want a black sky with the entire fireworks at their best in the frame or would you like an impressive and busy explosion filling the frame?

It’s all a matter of personal choice and sometimes, because of the unpredictability of your subject, very little you can do about it.

Fortunately our calendar allows us many opportunities to take pictures of fireworks so if you missed it tonight there’s always the next celebration to plan for.

Impress Your Lover With a Romantic Fireworks Sulhouette.

Give her this photo of the two of you for Valentines Day – you can thank me later.

Take a fireworks picture like this to impress any woman


To learn everything you need to know about ISO, apertures, shutter speeds, image composition and lighting (without taking forever to do it) consider getting some help. I highly recommend the very entertaining and extremely capable Jarod Polin and his FroKnowsPhotos program.  Jarod takes you by the hand and shows you exactly how to master each aspect of digital SLR photography.

Click Here to Visit the Official Site of FroKnowsPhotos.

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