With the upcoming holiday weekend, I figured it would be the perfect time to do a quick blog on how to photograph fireworks. The timing on this was perfect because here in Milwaukee, we have an annual music festival called Summerfest. It’s actually the largest music festival in the world. They end the first night of the festival with a huge fireworks display. That fireworks display was last night so I figured it would be the perfect time to set up the camera and get some pictures of the fireworks. Those pictures are what you’ll see in this blog post.
There are a few things you’ll need to be able to take quality pictures of fireworks. You’ll need a camera that you can put into manual mode. Don’t worry about the settings because I’m going to give you a solid starting point. You’ll also need a tripod, and I’ll explain why. Your proximity to the fireworks launching area will determine the lens. If you’re using a point and shoot, you’ll want to get as close as the crowd situation allows. If you’re using a DSLR, use a wide-angle lens like a 18-55mm kit lens. If you’re using a DSLR and are further away, you can use a zoom lens but you need to make sure you leave enough room in the frame to account for the expansive size of the bursts. Also, having a remote shutter release will be a big help as well. That will minimize any vibrations that happen when you hit the shutter button on the camera. Vibrations will give you soft images and you want the sharpest images possible, which brings me to my second point. If your camera has the capability to focus to infinity, you’ll want to switch to manual focus and set the focus to infinity. That way, everything in the frame will be in focus. This is important because if your camera isn’t set to manual focus, instead of taking the picture, it’ll hunt for something to focus on and you’ll miss the shot.
After you get your camera mounted onto the tripod and pointed towards the area where the display will happen, switch your camera into manual mode. Here are the settings you’ll want to start with: Shutter Speed (S) – 1 second, Aperture (A) – F8, and ISO – 200. After the first few fireworks go off, review your images and see if they are bright enough. The only thing you’ll need to adjust is your shutter speed. If the images are too dark, slow down the shutter speed to about 2 seconds. Feel free to play around with the shutter speed to get the best results.
Hope this post helps you get some awesome shots the next time you photograph some fireworks. As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me. I’ll see ya next week!