How to Take Photos of Fireworks

Photography Tips

In honor of Independence Day, I am going to throw out a few tips on how to capture fireworks.

Using your Smartphone:

  • First and most importantly, Turn Off Your Flash!
  • Secondly, you are going to want to get close to the action.

Phone cameras aren’t that great to begin with, but once you start using the zoom whatever quality you might have had disappears quickly. Another reason to get close to the action is to keep the camera’s small sensor focused on capturing the firework, not the whole night sky that would lead to dull colors and noise in your photo.

If you are in the iPhone crowd, look for these apps to help you capture a good photo: LongExpoSlow Shutter!Slow Shutter Cam, and Slow Shutter Camera+.

If Android is your flavor of choice look for Camera FV-5.

*If you want to take it one step further, some phone cases have a mount for tripods, and this will certainly improve your final result.

DSLR’s or Cameras with Manual Options:

Today’s modern Point & Shoot’s, Compact System and DSLR mostly all have a Fireworks mode somewhere in the scene selection menu. If you camera happens not to have that option or you choose to man the helm personally here are a few things to do.

  • It almost goes without saying, Put Your Camera on a Tripod. (this is a significant step no matter how you plan to capture the fireworks)
  • If you have a flash, you are going to want to turn it off.
  • If your approach is to extend the shutter speed to capture more movement, you are going to want to close down your f/stop or aperture to 8 or even 16.
  • If you are trying to capture a split second of the show, you will want to open your aperture up to 5.6 or above.
  • Another good rule of thumb is to set your ISO as low as possible to help keep your colors bright and vivid and your night sky free of noise.

Fine Tuning:

If you have the option, you want to switch to manual focus and then set it to infinity and leave it alone. Next if you can get your camera on a tripod, you will want to turn any image stabilization off.

Playing with shutter speed will have the biggest effect on your photos. I have had better luck capturing photos using a faster shutter speed, somewhere between a half second and a full second. Experimentation is they key to this one, much like with all photography, to find out what works for you. It is also said that slower shutter speeds bring out better colors in fireworks photos. *Remember if you go to the longer exposure stop down your aperture.

However, you choose to capture your fireworks photos, have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment.

What are some tips or tricks you know of that will help capture fireworks photos? 

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