I love the Fourth of July – the pool parties, the eating, and the fireworks! A few years ago I stumbled on an amazing hidden spot to watch fireworks, and I figured out how to take pictures of the colorful explosions.
Here are some of my top tips:
– 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. 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 turn out 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, leave a comment with your camera model and I’ll tell you the best setting.
– A remote control is a great way to get shots. Many Digital SLRs have the option to add a remote (and they can be pretty cheap, I got mine for $30), which completely eliminates camera shake.
– 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/56 – 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.
Do you have any fireworks tips? Leave them in the comments. Then, upload your favorite shots from the holiday to the TSAM Photo Fun Flickr group so we can compliment and learn from each other (If you don’t have a flickr account, just link to your photos in the comments).
Any questions? Fire away!
Want more tips on Fourth of July photography? You can find them here thanks to HP, my awesome photo partners.
Robyn Rasmussen says:
I was just wondering about this. I just tried to take pictures of some glow in the dark items and didnt’ have any luck. I use a Sony Cybershot 7.2 megapixels. 2,8-5,2/6,3-18,9. Any suggestions? Thanks! -Robyn
Try putting the camera in a mode that has the flash turned off. Then make sure your camera is on a solid surface and you should get some good shots!
I am going to try this and see what I get at my parent’s cook out this weekend. I can’t wait to see what I end up with!
Jayme Q says:
I’ve really been wanting to try some good fireworks shots. I have a Nikon D5000 and don’t usually shoot in manual, but I’ll try your suggestions tonight. I teach high school journalism and have to be able to show my kids that I can do the shots before I can convince them to do it.
My point and shoot camera allows one to adjust shutter speed and focal length but for those of us less interested in fiddling it has a fireworks mode. I have used it to take some pretty neat shots. Because it takes longer for the shutter to close my one suggestion is– d0 NOT wait for the perfect shot. You will miss that smiley face firework every time. During the fireworks aim your camera towards the sky and keep shooting. As soon as one click is done (and there is a delay in fireworks mode) I click again. You will not know what you get until the end but you will enjoy the show with your eyes rather than through a lens.
I do not have a real tripod so I use a 6 inch GorillaPod flexible tripod. It fits in my purse or diaper bag and is more likely to be where I am when I need a tripod. At our 4th of July concert I sit the flexible tripod on top of the cooler or wrap it around the arm of a lawn chair to steady the camera. It also helps me keep track of my camera and keeps it from getting stepped on.
Thanks for the tips. Have a happy 4th!
These tips sound great. My point and shoot has fireworks mode so I’ll be trying that. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.
As always your pics are amazing(I am totally jealous.) Not sure where I am headed to watch the fireworks tonight but I will try to remember my tripod. I have been wanting to get a remote, I really need to do that! I am afraid of manual. I usually shoot shutter priority or aperture priority but haven’t tried fully manual a whole lot. I will have to play with it tonight. Thanks Heather you rock!
I have a Nikon D5000 I have always just used automatic but going to try to change the settings and do manual…dont know why it scares me so.
Great (and very timely!) tips. I’m hoping to use the fireworks setting on my point and shoot to capture some great shots tomorrow.
When pointed at nighttime fireworks your camera will naturally reduce the shutter speed in an attempt to capture the bright bursts of light and the explosive movement. The consequence If your hands shake even a little you risk a photo thats a blurry mess. ……To steady yourself find something stable on which to rest your camera a fence or a rock ledge for example that will help reduce any movement.
yeah, if your camera is set to auto, this will happen. The flash will also try to pop, so make sure your flash is shut off!
I was all excited to take awesome pics to upload and guess what! I forgot my camera!!! I was so upset. It was kind of nice to take off my ‘photographer hat’ for a while and just enjoy though. Although I was still imagining all the great shots I would have been getting.
It helps to charge your camera battery before you begin shooting photos of the fireworks. Rookie mistake but it happened to me last night at my Parent’s cook-out, firework party.
Thanks Heather, Happy 4th!! Hugs for Annie!
I have been a canon rebel xti …i haven’t tried shooting fireworks yet. Suggestions?
That’s what I shot with last year! Try using the settings I suggested and see what results you get!
not just a firework question….what kind of point and shoot camera do you use? I have a Nikon D3000 and I love it, but I want a little camera for purse/diaper bag carry around type. I use to have an olympus stylus water resistant one….just trying to collect camera people suggestions! thanks
p.s. i have been playing with sparklers this 4th weekend and using the manual settings and LOVE the resulting pictures!
I actually got halfway decent pictures with my iPhone. My camera was dead by the time fireworks came around (I went to a wedding that morning). I also got some lovely video of the fireworks with an…inspiring Toby Keith song in the background.
One setting that has let me take some pretty cool fireworks shots is the athletic/motion setting…you know, the one that you use when you are taking pics at an athletic event.
David H says:
I will have to try this out in a couple of months when the fireworks are bursting – but first I will have to get a new camera other than my Droid