Taking photos of Fireworks can be a lot of fun, so here’s some great tips on taking amazing firework photos as well as a guide to what gear you’re going to need to get the best results.
WHAT GEAR DO I NEED?
A tripod is an essential bit of kit for any photographer, but especially important if you wish to take photos in low light and at night. At night we use slow shutter speeds as a way of capturing more light with the camera shutter open for anything from a few seconds to 30 seconds or even longer if you are using the bulb mode. If a camera moves during the exposure the subject will blur, so a tripod is necessary to keep the camera steady. Our advice is to buy the most solid tripod you can for your budget, whilst a cheaper and lighter tripod may be appealing a heavier, solid tripod will always be better.
The Manfrotto 055 XPRO is a reliable and sturdy tripod that will hold even the heaviest of cameras steady, but for travelling and smaller cameras such as mirrorless models we recommend the compact and much lighter Manfrotto BeFree.
Another essential piece of kit worth picking up is a camera remote, this will allow you to activate the cameras shutter without touching the camera, if you’re lucky enough to have a camera with built in WiFi then there is almost certainly an app available so you can use your smartphone or iPad as a remote device.
If you don’t have a remote then it’s worth noting that you can also use the cameras in built self timer (every camera has this feature).
WHICH LENS SHOULD I USE?
Choose a wide lens (lower the focal length the better, 18mm will be fine) to give you plenty of room to capture the sky and fireworks as well as the option to include some foreground detail such as a tree or building for a sense of scale.
Auto focus can struggle in poor light, so if this is the case consider turning off Auto Focus and using Manual focus, most lenses have a switch on the side which allows you to turn auto focus off and use manual focus, if you have a lens without the switch then you will need to change the cameras focus mode to ‘M’.
For the best results shoot in either Shutter priority mode or Manual if you’re feeling confident.
1. Shutter priority mode
In shutter priority you control the shutter speed and ISO and the camera looks after Aperture.
Select Shutter priority which is the letter ‘S’ on the camera mode dial (‘Tv’ on Canon cameras).
Change the ISO to 400.
Select a shutter speed of 5 seconds (this is shown as 5” on your camera).
Take a photo.
Try experimenting with different shutter speeds, somewhere between 5 – 10 seconds should give good results.
2. Manual mode
In Manual mode you control the shutter speed, aperture and ISO.
Select ‘M’ on the camera mode dial for full manual control of the Aperture, Shutter and ISO.
Change ISO to 400.
Select a shutter speed of 5 seconds (this will be shown as 5” on your camera).
Change aperture (f number) to f11.
Take a photo.
If your photo is too dark open up the aperture by changing the f number from f11 to a smaller number.
If photos look too bright close the aperture by selecting a larger f number.
Try experimenting with some different shutter speeds, 5 – 10 seconds should give good results.
The final step of course to take lots of photos, try different shutter combinations and most importantly have fun!
How to photograph fireworks
Check out our tutorial video.