Night photography can present challenges, but taking great pictures of fireworks is easy. Here are 10 tips to take fantastic, quality photos of fireworks displays.
First and most importantly, use a tripod. This is essential to avoid camera shake, vibrations, etc. Or even better, use a remote release device to take pictures. Using the self-timer feature on a camera is an alternative to a remote release device, but this can be trickier because of the time delay on this feature.
Frame your shot in advance. Fireworks displays draw very large crowds, so you’ll need to find a spot higher than the crowd, or at the front of the crowd to avoid having people’s heads in the pictures. Make sure no tall trees or unsightly buildings are in the way. Landmarks are sometimes okay to have in the picture; it shows where the fireworks photos were taken and can actually be pleasant to have in the shot. Also determine if you want the photos to be taken horizontally or vertically in advance.
Make sure your aperture is correctly set. Although the photos are being taken at night, the fireworks give off lots of light. An aperture setting of f/8 to f/16 is adequate.
Use the right shutter speeds. Longer shutter speeds will be required. You won’t want it to be open two long-maybe just two or three seconds. A longer speed will catch the trails fireworks make, whereas a quicker speed will not show the trails. Experiment with both during the fireworks display.
Shoot at a low ISO. An ISO of 50 or 100 is recommended.
Never use autofocus for fireworks. Instead, focus the camera to infinity. The fireworks are far away in professional fireworks displays, so shooting to infinity should work every time.
Because most people use digital cameras, check your camera manual to see if your model has a fireworks setting. Most do, and this is the easiest way to take great photos without worrying about F-stops, shutter speeds, etc. on cameras that don’t allow you to set them.
Don’t use your camera flash, because it won’t help you. A flash can only brighten up the area that is a few meters in front of you. It will never reach the distance of the fireworks. If anything, it will be a detriment to the photos you are trying to take.
Always shoot pictures upwind. Fireworks create a lot of smoke, and if the smoke is in your photos, you will end up with hazy pictures.
Last, bring extra memory sticks, make sure your camera is fully charged or has fresh batteries, and take lots of pictures.
Be creative and have fun with it! It is a holiday after all.