Looking for some tips on how to take beautiful firework photos this 4th of July? You’ve come to the right place! For this tutorial, you do need to have a DSLR, a tripod, as well as basic knowledge of how to get to different settings on your camera. I also recommend using a wide angle lens and a remote release, although the latter is not too important.
Step 1 – Tripod and Manual Mode
Get to your location early and set up your tripod. Turn that dial to manual mode — there is no way around this one.
Step 2 – ISO (which stands for International Standards Organization, for those curious 🙂 )
ISO should be set at 100 or 200 at the highest. This is to ensure that you don’t get noise creeping into your picture.
Step 3 – Aperture Setting
I usually set my aperture between F11 to F16. It seems counter intuitive because why would you do that at night?? The answer is simply because firework is very bright and if you open up too much on aperture, you risk overexposing and you won’t get the nice sharp lines of the firework trails.
Step 4 – Focus
It’s best to get this part done while it’s still light because it’s hard to impossible to auto focus after dark. One way to do that is to set your focus by taking a picture of the scene where the firework display is to play out, make sure everything comes out nice and in-focus, then turn off autofocus and leave it alone! Another way is to turn off autofocus and then manually turn the focus to infinity.
Step 5 – Shutter
This one can be played around a bit. If you have a remote release (which is also the best way to avoid touching the camera and ensuring it is as still as possible), turn the shutter to “bulb”. Press it at the start of a burst and hold it down until it finished. Or go longer and experiment holding it for a few bursts. If you don’t have a remote release, use the self-timer. You do have to wait that 10 seconds or so, but it’s well worth it to ensure your camera stay still and not introduce any shake into the photo. Experiment with 10 seconds, 20 seconds or even longer. A word of warning if you keep the shutter open too long: you risk overexposure and the entire image can get hazy from the smoke.
Step 6 – Have Fun
I believe this is the most important step. No matter how great a picture is, there is nothing like actually being in that moment, celebrating and allowing all your senses to take in and be in awe of those pyrotechnic displays with you loved ones.
Now, go out and take some pictures of firework! And do let me know if these tips have been helpful in the comment section below. I would also love to see how your pictures turned out.
Have a Happy Independence Day!
P.S. If you just want to take better firework photos with your smart phone, I came across this article here the other day.