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If you’re planning on seeing a fireworks show for the Fourth of July, you might be wanting to take some cool photos of the display. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my experience shooting fireworks:

  • Set your mode to shutter speed priority (usually Tv or S on the dial) and set your shutter speed to 5 seconds. Later, you can adjust the shutter speed to get more or less of the light streaks (I recommend 3-5 seconds).
  • Use a low ISO, such as ISO 100 or 200, as long exposures can be somewhat grainy.
  • Use a tripod! This is non-negotiable! Make sure you get one that will allow you to tilt your camera straight up and not fall over, just in case you end up directly beneath the fireworks.
  • If your camera has a short timer option (such as a 2-second timer), use that so that the camera shake when you press the button doesn’t blur the image. Better yet, get a wireless or a remote trigger for your camera!
  • To focus your camera, switch the lens to Manual Focus, and then turn the focusing ring all the way to the infinity symbol.
  • Shoot, shoot, shoot! You will take a TON of photos, and probably only 5-10 of them will turn out well. That’s okay!
  • Later, when you’re tweaking the photos in Photoshop, use the Burn tool and set it to “Shadows” at about 10-15%, then paint over the areas where you have smoke or haze. This will make the sky darker so the streaks of the fireworks stand out more.

All of the above tips are for people using SLR or DSLR cameras. If you’re using a point-and-shoot, look to see if your camera has a “fireworks” or “nighttime” setting. That’s your best bet! Don’t forget a tripod!

Here are some photos I took at a show a few years ago:




Good luck! Let me know if you get anything good!

One Comment

  1. Awesome shots! I shot a wedding this past summer and it included a surprise fireworks show. The couple didn’t plan for it, but it happened nearby — lucky for us! I had to quickly and effectively learn to shoot the display all the while figure out a way to include my couple without under- or overexposing them with the fireworks in the background. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed a few decent shots! (You can view them here: http://www.bunnsalarzon.com/4890.) All I had was my Canon 5D, 50mm f/1.8, and 580EXii. Now, with your tips I hope to get awesome shots the next time around! ;)

    Posted December 21, 2009 at 3:22 am | Permalink

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