With the 4th of July quickly approaching, you may be feeling eager to watch a great fireworks display. But taking pictures of fireworks isn’t easy. Here are some tips to help you capture the best fireworks photos.
Tip 1: Get a sturdy tripod
When shooting fireworks, you usually set the shutter speed to a longer exposure, so that requires the camera to be completely still. If it’s not completely still, your photo will turn out blurry due to the motion of the camera while the shutter is open capturing the photo. Find a nice sturdy tripod that will assure you that your camera is secure and can withstand any wind that is present.
Tip 2: Set shutter speed to a longer exposure
You want to use a long exposure to create “light trails” from the fireworks. You can use different durations of your long exposure depending on how many fireworks you want in your shot. If you want to focus on just one individual firework, then go with about an 8 second shutter speed. If you want as many fireworks in your shot as possible, then set your shutter speed to longest shutter speed your camera can go to, which is usually 30 seconds. Another option is to set your camera up on bulb mode, which is when the camera leaves its shutter open to capture the photo for as long as you want. You will have to hold the shutter release button (the button you use to take a photo). It is optimal to use a shutter release device when using bulb mode.
Tip 3: Use low ISO to reduce noise
Use a lower ISO to reduce the noise in your photo. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera sensor is to light, which creates grain in your image. In this situation, fireworks photos are fairly bright, and that is what you need to expose for. Therefore, you need to have a low ISO, around 100.
Tip 4: Close down your aperture between f/8 and f/11
When you close down your aperture (increase the aperture number), you are letting in less light and increasing the depth of field. This brings more of your image into focus. It also helps with exposing more for the bright fireworks, and keeps the color of each firework from “blowing out” the highlights. “Blowing out” the highlights means that the brightest parts of an image become very overexposed, which keeps the image file from retaining any data and detail in that part of the image. So the goal is to not overexpose for the brightest part of the image.
Tip 5: Use a trigger release or set your camera on a short timer
Using a trigger release allows you to control the shutter with a remote so you do not have to touch the camera on the tripod. Doing this reduces the chances of the camera moving from using the shutter release button. The camera moving will likely result in a motion blur. If you do not have a shutter release remote, an alternative is to set your camera up on a timer. You would have to look up how to do it based on what camera brand and model you have, but I tend to use a 2 second timer. After I click the shutter release button on the camera, it will take the photo 2 seconds later to make sure the camera is perfect still when the exposure begins.
Tip 6: Set your lens focus to infinity
Since it will be very dark when the fireworks show begins, each time you want to take a photo, if you have your autofocus on, the camera likely will not have anything to focus on. A lack of light = a lack of focus. The camera will “search” for a focus point and fail which results in an out of focus image. The solution to this, is to set your lens focus to infinity. You should be able to find your infinity focus by rotating your focus ring, and look at the top of your lens until it lines up with the infinity symbol. You can do this before even going out to the fireworks show, and tape your focus ring down so it doesn’t move.