How to take better photos of fireworks

Taking photos of the night sky can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. By the end of the post about photographing fireworks you’ll know exactly:

  • Which lens is best for night photography?
  • The best settings for photographing fireworks?
  • Inspiration of other people photos

What gear is a must for photographing fireworks?

Before you get started, make sure you’ve got the best gear for taking better firework photos. 

  • Something to stabilise your camera, ideally a decent tripod
  • Remote release
  • Any Camera that will do long exposures, but ideally one with manual mode, manual focus and BULB. 
  • A wide and a zoom lens or ideally a versatile on that does both like an 18-200mm with infinity manual focus. 
  • Memory Cards – It’s too easy to fun out of space
  • Spare batteries
  • Flashlight 
  • Gloves

Pro Tip: 

Check the weather before you shoot as it will affect your photo. Wind direction and speed will tell you how quickly and which direction the smoke will be pushed and how clear the night sky is will affect your exposure. Fingers crossed for clear dark skies.

How to take better photos of fireworks: 

  • Start by using a Tripod 

Yes, you really should stabilize your camera in some way or another because you’re going to be using long shutter speeds which will result in blur if you don’t keep it perfectly still. 

  • Use a Remote Release 

I love using a remote release because not only does it result in a stiller camera but it also allows for you to get to watch the show better. Don’t have to get one? Try timer instead.  

This is the most difficult part of the whole process. Anticipating where you need to point the camera in the first place. You’ll need to:

Pick a clear empty vantage point. This can take some researching so it’s always great if you can go before the day and stake out the ideal viewing spots. 

Consider something in the foreground, maybe angled to make a silhouette. 

Leave movement room within your shot. 

  • Ideally upwind from all the smoke.

Best Settings for photographing fireworks

  • Manual Focus

Camera’s struggle to focus in the dark because it can’t find the contrast of the edges. So set your focus to manual and turn it infinity. Turn off VR. 

  • Select the right Aperture

A good starting point for aperture is f/11.

  • Get your Shutter Speed Right

Instead of choosing a shutter speed, set the camera to Bulb (B) which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want. Expose for the entire fireworks burst. You can even keep the shutter open for multiple bursts.

In ‘Bulb’ Mode, you control the shutter speed by holding down the shutter release. The camera continues recording until you let go of that button.

The in-camera ‘Bulb’ setting makes it possible to shoot fireworks without knowing how long that next burst is going to last.

To use ‘Bulb’ Mode, turn your camera to manual mode. Turn the shutter speed all the way down until you see B or Bulb near the shutter speed display.

  • Set your ISO

Ideally you want to be around the ISO 100 – 200 mark, because you’re going to use a long exposure to get enough light and you want the black to just that black.  

  • Switch off your Flash

Just do it. You don’t want any additional light apart from the fireworks.

  • Shoot in Manual Mode

Experiment and Track Results

  • Is your horizon straight? 
  • Try a longer exposure to 
  • Try zooming out | in during the exposure for a creative result.

Inspiration of other people photos