How To Shoot Fireworks

It’s the Fourth of July, in the U.S., Independence Day. It’s the perfect moment to revisit the fundamentals of taking pictures of fireworks. It’s simple, fun, and an excellent method to keep the memories of those spectacular fireworks.

Find Your Location

This is the one instance where proximity isn’t an advantage. Find an elevation that is a little further to give you a vantage point beyond the sky’s burstings. Water is an excellent option. There’s a secondary reflection from the surface, which gives it depth and also echoes the sky’s colors. City lights are another option.

Watch out for interesting foreground shapes that could be used by fireworks to create a silhouette or frame. If you’ve got fill flashes, the effects can be quite striking.

Bring Your Tripod

Handheld cameras are not a good idea for the photography of fireworks. Exposure times can be too long to capture an acceptable image when held.

Be sure to arrive on time to allow enough time to review your framing and make sure that you are level with the horizontal line. When you’re in a situation like this, the Bubble level for your tripod is worth the cost.

Be aware that it’s unlikely that you’ve been there previously and are familiar with what the area is like, then you may be required to alter your frame to match the elevation the display operators have chosen for the shells. I mark the preset points using grease pencils above and below and to the right and left in my favorite frame so that I don’t need to make guesses when I’m in the dark and can easily switch to the following preset if you’re able to create preset marks for both vertical and horizontal framing.

Remote Release

It is also recommended to set your remote release to”B” or the “B” (or bulb) setting. Holding the release button could cause motion shake even with the tripod.


Many people believe you need a high-speed lens for shooting fireworks; however, according to my experience, f8 to F16 is usually sufficient as the starting point. Fireworks are extremely luminescent, which means you don’t require a fast lens or a lower f-stop in order for the greatest outcomes.

Beginning at the f8, and adjust as needed.


Similar to the ISO. A higher ISO can lead to overexposure to the shell blasts. Begin at ISO 100 and adjust after the first couple, if required.

Don’t forget that you’re not aiming for the perfect exposure but trying to get an ideal fireworks image. Sometimes, the shots that are poorly exposed can be the most stunning photographs.

The Technique

Based on how much light remains in the sky at night generally, you simply close the shutter prior to the burst and then close it when the burst ends. This is the time to begin having enjoyable.

Be sure to experiment with the number of bursts within the same shot, from two or three to leaving the shutter open for three or more. Sometimes you’ll be overexposing one. It’s no problem. Adjust the exposure as necessary to suit the situation.

Most importantly, just enjoy yourself. Photographing can become stressful, and it’s a rare chance to break all the rules and enjoy the spectacle.