Fireworks photography tips!

Fireworks photography tips!

It’s the time of year where Fireworks are ever present. Here is a tip to help you in photographing this years fun filled times!


Tips for photographing fireworks!

Equipment needed:



Shutter release Cable




First, you will have to use a tripod. The exposures are going to be long and there is no possible way to hand hold the camera and get good results. Also, a cable release is a must so that you get no camera shake from depressing the shutter.


Manual Focus

Since the camera will not be able to focus quick enough for your shot, you will have to shoot on MANUAL focus. When the first fireworks go up, try to focus with your eye and once in focus, leave it!

Exposure-Manual Settings

Set your camera to an ISO of 100. If you are thinking that it is night and so therefore you need a higher ISO, keep in mind that fireworks are very bright and also you are doing a very long exposure accumulating a lot of light.


Start by setting your F stop at F5.6 or F 8. Again, remember this is a long exposure and fireworks are pretty bright! Now set your shutter speed at 4- 6 seconds. Looks like this 6″ on the shutter speed.  Try to time the shot for the burst!


You can also use the BULB setting. This is the setting where the shutter stays open as long as it is depressed. Some people prefer to shoot on this setting and follow the fireworks and count the seconds or place a piece of Black board back and forth over the lens at each burst.


If trying the bulb method:

Set your camera to Bulb. You can locate this by going past the 30″ mark on your shutter speed.


Depress the shutter using a cable release so there is no camera shake and hold a piece of black foam core or poster board over the lens.  At each burst, remove the board in front of the lens. Doing this as much as you want to get as many burst in one frame as you can. Simply shoot on bulb and keep the shutter open, just take the black foam core or poster board , and place over your lens and take away at each burst and then place back over the lens. All the time, the shutter remains open.  Shoot at an aperture of about F 11 and start there while using Bulb. Try different time increments and see what you get. If the image is too bright, take your F stop to a larger number(less light)


Once you have an image, make adjustments as needed for the length of time you like. We usually find between 4 and 6 seconds is good if shooting with a set time vs. Bulb. If the exposure is too bright, adjust your F Stop to a higher number (smaller opening) until you find the exposure you like. If too dark, go the other way and make the lens opening larger. Do not rely on your light meter in this situation and leave your ISO at 100! 

ISO 100   6 seconds    F 4

ISO 100   4 Seconds    F 4

The Rule of Thirds

Simply put, the rule of thirds is the idea of breaking your image into 9 equal parts with horizontal and vertical lines such as below. The four intersecting points are considered to be the strongest part of an image. They are also known as “power points” Some DSLR’S even have a grid such as below in the viewfinder to show where and how the image is located within the strongest lines.
After initially placing the couple in the center of the image, I then moved them to the right third.89

Notice they are on the vertical line and they intersect the 2 strongest visual points of the image.

Below is the image without the grid.

Notice that not only is this image stronger based on a slight movement of my position for the thirds, the image also now has a beautiful leading line of the road leading you into the couple and then through the image. All I did was slightly adjust my position and a much more impactful image happened. Understand, the first image was a real photograph I took just working quickly. Then, I stopped myself and said……think about the leading line and rule of third here. That’s when I got this image which is now much stronger as it is in the right third and the road. is a natural leading line through the image.