How to photograph fireworks
Getting good shots of fireworks requires planning ahead and using a bit of know-how. Even less experienced photographers can achieve good results by learning about the settings available on their cameras, guarding against camera shake, and planning ahead.
It takes a bit of effort to learn how to take good pictures at night. Most people start first with pictures taken in strong daylight. However, even the less expensive digital cameras can produce good nighttime pictures with a little studying beforehand.
When you display those fireworks shots on your computer or in a print, the time spent learning a few tricks will be truly worthwhile. So pack up your camera and a few essentials, figure out what settings to use, and prepare to amaze yourself.
Find a spot from which to photograph the fireworks with no one walking in front of the camera or tripping over the tripod. Arrive early and set up your tripod and camera before someone else takes your spot!
Bring your camera, tripod, shutter release cable, extra batteries and film or memory cards, and a small flashlight. A canteen of water and something to snack on would not be amiss.
Read the manual that came with your camera to find out how to adjust the settings. This is best done at least a week before the photo shoot in case you need to purchase some small item. Practice on at least one night to be sure you have the settings right.
Point and shoot digitals will usually offer a fireworks setting, or at least a night photography setting. SLR cameras offer more flexibility but take a bit longer to get up to speed.
Use the time before the event to review what you have learned and get the settings right.
Make sure the tripod is set up correctly and very stable. Fasten the camera securely to the tripod. The purpose is to avoid camera shake, so this step must be done carefully.
Complete the camera settings: a wide aperture and a long shutter speed. Attach the shutter release cable and check to make sure it is functioning properly.
Focus. If not using an object to provide dramatic punch and perspective, simply set the focus to infinity. Otherwise, focus on your focal point.
If using a digital camera, take a few test shots to be sure you have the settings right. Erase your test shots and get ready for your first fireworks shoot.
After dark, and before the show begins, take a completely black shot to use with your computer and Photoshop in order to reduce noise. If this isn’t clear, ignore this step and just shoot.
Periodically check to make sure you are getting the quality of shots you want. Don’t take your pictures so seriously that you forget to enjoy the show.