How to get fantastic Fireworks photographs

Stimmungsvolles buntes Feuerwerk auf Schwarz, mit Textfreiraum

Stimmungsvolles buntes Feuerwerk auf Schwarz, mit Textfreiraum

How to get fantastic Fireworks photographs

It is Stampede time in Calgary, and that means fireworks every night. You can get pretty amazing fireworks images with a few real easy tricks.

A tripod is a must. You will be shooting long exposures that no one can hand hold without camera movement. You also want the tripod so the framing does not change unless you want it to. This way it will be easy to overlay multiple images in Photoshop later.

Remember to turn off your lens or body stabilizer. Once secured to a tripod this setting will actually create camera movement.

If possible, set up so that you are shooting eastward for a darker sky.

Use a remote trigger, wireless or cord; this will eliminate camera vibration from pushing the shutter button.

For proper exposure you should experiment to get what you like. Go for a 2 to 10 second long exposure. Keep your ISO low, 100 or 200. You will have to go to manual controls; the camera will try to compensate for the dark sky. You want to keep your grain or noise down. Set your image size for the largest you can. You will be able to crop the image later with little quality loss.


Another way is to set your camera to bulb; most 35mm cameras will have this. When you push down the remote trigger and hold it, the shutter stays open until you release it. We used this trick in the old film days to get multiple exposures on one frame of film. This also works great for lighting strikes.

Frame your image with some room for the higher and bigger explosions. Once you see the general area and height they are going for you may want to reframe your image to take advantage of that. Don’t forget to turn off your autofocus. With the distance you are working at you will have a large enough depth of field to get it all in focus. Some lenses will have the infinity symbol on the lens. You can also set your focus on that.

As the fireworks add up, so will the smoke from the explosions. This takes away from the clean look, your better shots will happen early in the night’s performance.

Include some of the foreground in some of the shots. It will add dimension to the image. Even some of the crowd will give it energy.


You will not be the only person there to photograph the fireworks, plus there will be lots of people there to watch them. If you can, pre-visit the site the night before, before it gets dark so you can see your way around, to find good vantage spots. Then, get there early to claim it. Remember to account for people being in front of you, possibly blocking your view.

You will find a rhythm with the noise of fireworks being fired and their explosion in the sky. Pay attention to that for your timing. By the time you see them, it is to late to take the best photo of them.

Turn off your flash. You will just annoy people while adding nothing to your image.

For variety, some nights take a vantage point far enough away to get the city skyline in. With your camera on a tripod and the camera fixed in place, take some dusk shots before the event then you can mask the images in to the frame with hints of detail in the buildings.

You should have no problem bringing home some amazing firework images. Experiment with your settings. Try to find a new and fresh point of view so your images look different than the guys’ next to you.

Oh and don’t forget to take a moment to just appreciate the display of amazing color and explosions.

Stimmungsvolles buntes Feuerwerk auf Schwarz, mit Textfreiraum

Stimmungsvolles buntes Feuerwerk auf Schwarz, mit Textfreiraum



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