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  • Cindy Ellis

Photographing Fireworks

Getting Started:

Taking pictures of fireworks is much easier than most people imagine. To get good pictures, you will need an adjustable camera, a tripod or other firm support and a cable release/camera remote. Fireworks are especially exciting because of their vivid color, and ideally a camera with manual setting is needed. On digital SLRs you will need to be in manual mode and select your ISO, shutter speed and aperture based on the information below.


Since the pictures taken of most fireworks will be timed exposures, the main concern is the correct lens opening to use. Almost all lens openings will produce interesting fireworks' pictures. An overexposed image will show the aerial traces thick and white in color while an underexposed image will show lines and more intense colors.

Taking the picture:

For best results follow these steps:

  • Place camera on a tripod or other firm support.

  • Set the focusing scale on infinity (manual focus) and set the lens opening lens as below.

    • Aerial Bursts

      • Set shutter speed to bulb

      • ISO 100-160 use aperture f 11

      • ISO 200 use aperture f 16

      • ISO 400 use aperture f 22

    • Ground displays

      • Set shutter speed to 1/30

      • ISO 100-160 use aperture f 11

      • ISO 200 use aperture f 16

      • ISO 400 use aperture f 22

  • Aim the camera in the direction of the bursts. Set the shutter to T(Time) or B(bulb). Open the shutter preferably with a remote control. Keep it open for several bursts and if there are bright lights or cars moving nearby, cover the lens between bursts to keep stray lights out while the shutter is open.

Printing your photos:

We will use compensation when printing your digital images or negatives for best results. If using another lab, you may need to ask for special handling.

Point and Shoot Compact Digital Cameras and some photo apps

Check your specialty or scene modes if your camera does not have manual capability. You may have a fireworks setting. Some fireworks setting require you to hold down the shutter button for the period of the fireworks burst and then release it. Be careful with camera shake. Some setting just leave the shutter open for an extended period of time. If this is the case experiment with the self timer to prevent blurry photos due to camera shake.

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