Photography Fundamentals – How To Take Pictures Of Fireworks

We have seen many pictures of fireworks and as we look at it, it seems like it is still very alive. During Fourth of July, while every one loves the food, festivals, and general craziness that go around the celebration; it is what happens after the sun goes down that really gets people excited and nervous. Many people are taking pictures of the breath taking and amazing display of fireworks, but only a few of them captures it perfectly. Fireworks Photography is notorious for missed shots, shaky images, bad exposures, and out of frame subjects. However, fireworks photography is not that hard actually. As long as you know the basics of night photography, you’ll only need a few things more to keep in mind and get you started with fireworks photography. I will discus with you below the important factors to consider with fireworks photography.


We all know that fireworks do not explode in the exact same spot every time. They tend to go on different directions and come in different sizes. Because fireworks are so unpredictable, you have to plan on taking a wider shot than you would normally do. Just crop the image afterwards to correct framing. Besides, what’s important is that you were able to capture the whole thing.


It is so common to have out of focus shots during night time because of the limited light available. In the case of fireworks, they tend to move fast in low light condition which would really give your Digital Camera’s autofocus a hard time with it. So turn of the autofocus and prefocus or set your camera to manual.


Fireworks are very bright but the amount f light created during a fireworks show varies greatly. The first few explosions are usually far enough apart that a relatively long exposure time (slow shutter speed) is to be considered. The space between explosions will also allow you to capture the shell flying into the air, the explosion, and the full extent of the explosive display. When the display reaches its finale there will be more light and the shells will explode rapidly. In order to make an image from this situation you will have to increase your film speed in order to decrease the exposure time. Leave your aperture on a high setting so that the entire explosion will be in focus.

Suggested settings for first few explosions
  • Shutter Speed = 2 seconds
  • Aperture = 14
  • Film Speed = 200

Suggested settings for rapid explosions
  • Shutter Speed = 1 second
  • Aperture = 14
  • Film Speed = 400