Photo Tips - Capturing Fireworks

Capturing Fireworks

As Shared on the Tech Net by Jim Austin

Step by Step to Brilliant Images of Skyrocketing Fireworks

For fireworks, use the camera's fireworks setting which opens the shutter for a long exposure.  If you don't have a fireworks setting, turn off the flash, close the aperture to the smallest (F number the largest), set the camera to aperture priority, and allow the camera to pick the long exposure.  Stand still; get braced.  The scene (SCN) mode sets longterm exposure.

To Avoid Blur

Try to have your camera on a stable platform, using a tripod so the camera is rock solid.  For cruisers, this often means going ashore.

Point and Shoot Cameras

1. Use a Long Exposure Time.  We'll see how in step 3.

2. After you mount your P/S on a tripod, choose the wide angle setting of your zoom range.

3. In your SCN or SCENE Mode, choose the Fireworks Mode.
This automatically gives you a long time exposure of 2 seconds or longer and sets the ISO automatically.

4. Avoid touching the camera or tripod once the exposure starts.


Try to get a Double Finale.
If you do not have a tripod, brace yourself well and hand hold the camera while shooting HG video of your fireworks.
Then dub over the audio with a separate music track.
This photographer got the fireworks right.

On most cameras,  the fireworks mode turns the flash off,  sets the focus to infinity,  disables the exposure compensation,  and lowers the ISO to about 160.

Digital SLR Cameras

1. Start in Manual Mode Priority. Set your ISO to 100.

2. Choose an aperture of F/8.

3. In Shutter Priority, try a shutter speed between 1 and 16 seconds. Most often my speeds are between 1 and 4 seconds. For really dim fireworks, you may need up to 16 seconds time exposure.

4. With your aperture (F stop) at F8, VARY YOUR SHUTTER SPEED, (16 seconds down to 1 second) depending on the brightness of the fireworks.

5. If your shots are too dark, try an aperture of F8.

6. If the bright blue, orange, and red fireworks all look kind of white, you should use the same exposure time, but close the aperture a bit and try again. That means changing your F8 setting to F11 or perhaps F16 If the fireworks are still too dim, open the aperture to F5.6 or F4.