How To Take… Fireworks

At this time of year photographers love to have a go at taking firework shots. They are not always successful, as it’s a bit more tricky than it looks. So I thought I would give you a few tips for the next time you see some pyrotechnics.

  • Turn off flash – it won’t do you any good
  • Use Manual focus – set the focus on your lens to something which is close to where the fireworks are going off and leave it there
  • Use a tripod – you won’t get sharp images unless you do
  • Use a low ISO setting (eg ISO100) – for the best quality without noise
  • Use a high f-stop – such as f/9, to give you good depth of field
  • Use a wide-angle lens – the widest you’ve got, the better. You can always zoom in a bit when you see where the fireworks are going off
  • Use a cable release – this will help you avoid camera shake when you press the shutter
  • Use live view – if your camera has it, this can help you compose your pictures without having to have your eye glued to the viewfinder – then you can observe the action a little better
  • Use the BULB setting – if your camera has it (or the longest shutter speed if not). This means the shutter is open for as long as you keep your finger on the button. Experiment with different shutter speeds to see what you get

Here’s the technique I used – camera on a tripod, with cable release, full manual focus and full manual exposure – set f/9 and use BULB with a cable release. Watch the fireworks as they go off, try holding the shutter open for different lengths of time to see what you get with the firework trails.

These are some of the shots I took at the local fireworks display yesterday:

1 second exposure
1 second exposure
2 second exposure
2 second exposure
3 second exposure
3 second exposure
5 second exposure
5 second exposure
7 second exposure
7 second exposure

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