Shooting Fireworks


2010-0852 2010-0921 2010-0861 2010-0851

Good morning,
I know it’s been done a million times but I thought I would share some of my techniques for capturing solid firework images. First off, lets actually talk about some equipment that I consider essential.

  • Camera
  • Lens (depending on your distance from the fireworks will determine your focal length) In these images I was pretty far away so my focal length ranged from 175 to 200mm.
  • A solid tripod (Gitzo is my brand of choice) My recommendation is to get a tripod that you like, because if you don’t like it you won’t use it.
  • The ability to set your camera on bulb
  • A cable release or infrared remote is very helpful

Now that we’ve determined our equipment lets think about how we want to approach capturing the fireworks. How do we want to frame or compose our image? Do we want to include any foreground elements or do we just want to isolate the fireworks themselves?  You may have a crappy foreground so leaving it out would benefit you. These are things only you can decide when you’re on location. In these images I was fortunate enough to have a foreground element in the way of a reflection.

Next make sure you have your camera set to manual focus so that it’s not searching for a focus in the dark when you need the shot to count. I normally will grab focus on something out at the range of the fireworks before the show starts.

Also I had a friend ask me which white balance do I shoot with. Well I shoot all of my images in RAW and keep my White Balance set to Auto. RAW allows me to make any adjustments to color in post processing. However if I was shooting in jpg format I would set my White Balance to Daylight (5500K – Nikon or 5200K Canon) or Cloudy (6500K Nikon or 6000K Canon)

Now let’s talk about camera settings. I normally shoot with an aperture of F/8 and an ISO between 100 and 400. I do my best to time my exposure with the length of the fireworks which can range anywhere from a couple seconds to four or five seconds. This is where shooting on bulb and a cable release really comes into play.

Well this works for me but I would certainly recommend experimenting with your settings and see what you come up with. Good luck and happy 4th of July!

Best of Light,



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