Banakas | Photography


Shot using: ISO 200 f/9 for 5.6 seconds

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and now is a good time to write-up some tips for shooting your local fireworks display.

What Should I Bring With Me?

Do not leave home without your tripod. This is probably one of the most important tools that you need to capture fireworks shots. Without your images will defiantly be blurry due to the long shutter speed needed for fireworks.

Release Cable
A release cable or wireless release is also equally important. Pressing the shutter button on the camera can and will introduce camera shake and result in blurry images.

What Camera Settings Should I Use?

Since you will be shooting up into the sky and the fireworks will be quite a distance away from you, it would be best to focus at infinity ( ∞ ). But, at some time before the show begins, while the light is still bright enough to focus, find a focus point near where the shots will be fired off from. Just setting your camera lens at infinity may be too far believe it or not. So setting it just before infinity will help create sharper focus.

Focal Length
For the first few shots, set your focal length to a wide setting. This will ensure that you are getting the full explosion in the frame. If you feel that you are too far, by all means, zoom in and fill your frame.

To help with focus and image sharpness, I would recommend that you set your aperture somewhere in the middle of your settings. An f-stop between f/8 – f/14 should do the trick.

To get a clean image, and since we are already using a tripod, set your ISO to your camera’s lowest setting. For most cameras that will be either an ISO of 100 or 200.


Shot using: ISO 200 f/9 for 8.6 seconds

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the most important setting you will need while shooting fireworks. Since you will be shooting at night, you will need a longer exposure, but remember that fireworks are bright, so we don’t want too long of an exposure. When I first started shooting fireworks, exposure was my biggest concern and since they are usually fired off in quick succession, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time checking shot after shot during the show. But, this is something you may need to do within the first few shots.

On my camera I set the shutter speed to “Bulb” mode. This gave me the flexibility to use my camera remote and time the shots as I wanted them. Most shots I took were between 5 – 9 seconds long. Depending on the colors used in the firework, I was able to decided if I wanted a longer or shorter exposure. I didn’t have to change my shutter speed settings on my camera, I just controlled it with my remote.

Get Out There and Shoot

Since the Fourth of July ends up on a Thursday this year, you may have a few municipalities that put on there shows over the weekends instead of the middle of the week. So you may have a few times to get out and practice using these tips. Last year I was fortunate enough to set up during two shows since they were not all being done on the same day. But, check your local area and get out and shoot a couple shows if you can.

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Shot using: ISO 200 f/9 for 5.7 seconds


Shot using: ISO 200 f/9 for 5.0 seconds

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