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Take Better Firework Photos

1 - Find a Good Backdrop

Take time to consider the potential backdrop options for the display you’re attending. This will help you to identify the best spot to take the photos that you’re after in advance of the evening.

2 - Get to the Spot Early

Once you know where it is you want to be stood for shooting the photos you want, make sure you don’t miss out by getting there too late. Arrive well in advance of the show starting to claim the spot you need to get the best possible photos.

3 - Position Yourself Upwind From Smoke

By working out roughly which direction the smoke will be heading from the fireworks display, you can give yourself the strongest vantage point in terms of comfort; whilst smoke can also help add to your shots.

4 - Add Reference Points to Your Framing for Better Photos

If you’re looking to use the firework photos you take ‘outright’, rather than introducing them to other settings through layering, the reference points you include within your framing will be vital. Consider how buildings and objects can be used as reference points for the fireworks. This will help those viewing them to gauge scale and spectacle.

5 - Find ‘Black Sky’ Spot for Photos You’ll Be Layering

Alternatively, if you intend to take the firework photos and then layer the onto different images, try and find a vantage point that enables you to obtain images on a ‘black sky background’.

6 - Use A Good Quality DSLR

A good DSLR camera will enable you to quickly and painlessly adjust any settings. Keeping a low ISO will be one of the most important things and you’ll be able to tweak this easily with the right camera.

7 - Wide-Angle Lens

If you’re going to be shooting your fireworks images from a relatively-close distance, then a wide-angle lens could serve you best to achieve the quality of shot you need. You can always crop down the images at a later stage.

8 - Telephoto Lens

If you’re going to be taking photos from further away (with fireworks in the distance), a telephoto zoom lens would be perfect. For up close, a wide to telephoto lens presents a great alternative.

9 - Carry An Extra Battery

This might seem like an obvious point, but your battery could die at any time. As a result, you should always have a spare, fully charged battery to hand. This way, if you do run out of juice for your camera, you can quickly swap over.

10 - Camera May Struggle With Autofocus

It may be advisable to lean away from your camera’s autofocus settings. Whilst a decent DSLR may be able to focus on a fireworks burst, it can make taking the photograph more difficult. Instead, you have a couple of options:

  1. You can set the autofocus initially for the first few explosions, then switch to manual so that the focus remains constant
  2. Use manual focus from the start and focus the image before it becomes too dark

11 - Leave Flash Off

Unless you want one of the objects in the forefront of your frame to be illuminated – and subsequently suck out the quality from the fireworks in your image – make sure you turn your flash off.

12 - Dealing With Urban/Floodlit Setting

If you’re using an urban or floodlit setting the white balance to tungsten can avoid a warm, yellow glow.

13 - Use Manual Mode

Use manual mode so that you can set the shutter speed and aperture yourself. Set the ISO to low - either 100 or 200. High shutter speeds and isos are not required. f/11 is a good aperture starting point

14 - Switch Vibration Reduction Systems Off

Since they don’t tend to work very well with tripods, it’s best to turn off any of the vibration reduction systems available through your camera. These may also be referred to as image stabilisation settings.

15 - Set Camera to Bulb (B), If You Have the Option

Instead of choosing a shutter speed, set the camera to Bulb (B) which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want. Expose for the entire fireworks burst. You can even keep the shutter open for multiple bursts. Cardboard trick

16 - Know Your Fireworks

If you have a decent understanding of the different firework effects you’re looking to photograph, this will make a difference when it comes to capturing the images at the display you attend. Use our firework effects guide as a starting point to furthering your knowledge!

17 - Enjoy the Display!

Above all else, make sure you enjoy the fireworks on show at the display you’re attending. Pyrotechnics create some of the best entertainment around and whilst it’s nice to capture great shots, it’s important to enjoy some of the display for yourself too