I don’t look at the search words that bring people to my blog very often, but I happened to look yesterday and I saw that the current top search is “how to photograph fireworks.” With the Fourth of July this weekend, I thought I’d update this old post I wrote about the subject for anyone looking to get some nice snaps of their local fireworks show. It’s actually pretty easy to get good pictures of fireworks, no matter what kind of camera you have!
– The most important thing is to hold your camera as steady as possible. If you have a tripod, use it. If not, try to find a steady surface to rest your camera on (I’ve used everything from a folding chair armrest to a cooler to my knee). Fireworks need a longer exposure time (meaning the shutter is open longer), so if your camera moves while the shutter is open, your picture will be blurry.
– If you have a point-and-shoot camera, check to see if it has a “Fireworks” mode. If it does, use that. If it doesn’t, landscape or nighttime settings are ideal.
– A remote control is the best way to get shots. Many Digital SLRs have the option to add a remote (and they can be pretty cheap, some start as low as $8.50!), which completely eliminates camera shake, aka photo blurriness.
– If you don’t have a remote control and getting one isn’t an option, set the self-timer on your camera. It’s a bit harder to time the shots, but with some practice you’ll get magic results.
– For those of you more familiar with how to work your camera’s settings, I’ll tell you how I set up my camera for fireworks. I shoot in manual, and I put my shutter in “bulb” mode. Bulb mode lets you keep the shutter open as long as you hold down the button (this is where a remote comes in handy). My aperture is usually between f/5.6 – f/8, and my ISO is set to 100.
– Make sure your flash is off!
– Don’t be afraid to get the crowd or skyline in the shots. You can get some amazing silhouette and city pictures.
– You can get good camera phone photos of fireworks with a little trial and error. Enable HDR and Exposure Lock (make sure you lock the exposure on the general area of the sky the fireworks will be exploding), and shoot on burst mode. Most people don’t have tripods for their camera phones, but bracing your arms to reduce shake will make your photos that much better. The less your phone moves, the faster it will take the picture – and that’s key with fireworks! Also, make sure that flash is OFF!
Any questions? Let me know.
Happy Fireworks viewing!