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Photographing Fireworks

Fireworks make for a truly enthralling spectacle – particularly when you witness pyrotechnics set to music in a professional display.

During events such as these you may be tempted to try and capture some records.

You can almost guarantee that any large event looming will be marked with a firework display, but achieving great shots when photographing fireworks can be tricky.

Posted on: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 by Gary Dean

The best view

The first thing you will need is an unobstructed view – this can be the key to getting an exciting shot.

If you can, have a scout around your vantage point during the day as this can lead to discovering the best place to position yourself. Trying to find the best view in the last few minutes before kick-off can be stressful and unachievable.

When shooting next to water consider this, as too much glare and reflection can spoil a perfectly good image. On the flipside, this can also deliver some creative and interesting results – it all depends on the type of shot you’re after.

Smoke screen

One of the big issues with photographing fireworks is all the smoke that these devices give off.

What you think is a great photograph can later reveal itself to be less than ideal due to all of the fog given off by fireworks.

If it’s a breezy time of year then position yourself upwind of the launch pad. This way all the smoke plumes will be blowing away from your spot and give clear air for you to photograph in.

Choosing your settings

To achieve the very best results it may be worth adjusting some of the settings slightly on your camera if you can.

Although you’re shooting at night you want to keep your ISO setting as low as possible to help give your shots sharpness. As you are shooting sharp bursts of light you don’t need the sensitivity too high (This point only really applies to those using a high end camera or DSLR).

It’s best to keep your focus on automatic. Some professionals argue that you should be setting up your shot manually but, for ease of use, the automatic option will be fine.

The real key to successful firework photography is having a fast shutter speed, which you can only really achieve with a DSLR camera. Fireworks happen quickly and your camera needs to be adjusted for speed. How much you adjust is entirely dependent on the results you’re seeking. Why not experiment and see what works for you?

With non-professional camera’s you will have to experiment to get the best results. You may have limited setting adjustment but play around and you could end up with a stunning image.

One other little trick is to have a piece of black card with you. Placing the card in front of the camera lens in between shots will usually give a better exposed shot.


If you’re struggling to press the shutter button at the right time then you could consider using the multiple shot function, if your camera has this setting.

This way you will get a run of shots; you can then simply pick the best when you come to review your photos.

Lastly, remember the crescendo that will happen at the end of the firework display. With multiple pyrotechnics going off this can be the best time to get that special image.

Firework photography can give some amazing shots – experiment with your camera and who knows what you may end up with.

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