How to Photograph Fireworks

How to Photograph Fireworks

Do you want to know how to photograph fireworks?

With New Year’s Eve just days away I thought I’d refresh this article in which I give 10 Fireworks Photography tips to help you get started.

Fireworks Displays are something that evoke a lot of emotion in people as they are not only beautiful and spectacular to watch but they also are often used to celebrate momentous occasions.

I’ve had many emails from readers asking how to photograph fireworks displays, quite a few of whom have expressed concern that they might just be too hard to really photograph. My response is always the same – ‘give it a go – you might be surprised at what you end up with’.

how to photograph fireworks - steps to follow

My reason for this advice is that back when I bought my first ever SLR (a film one) one of the first things I photographed was fireworks and I was amazed by how easy it was and how spectacular the results were. I think it’s even easier with a digital camera as you can get immediate feedback as to whether the shots you’ve taken are good or not and then make adjustments.

Of course it’s not just a matter of going out finding a fireworks display – there are, as usual, things you can do to improve your results. With 4 July just around the corner I thought I’d share a few fireworks digital photography tips.

How to Photograph: What you need to Know

Here are the steps you’ll need to work through to photograph fireworks:

  1. Start by using a Tripod
  2. Use a Remote Release
  3. Frame Your Shot
  4. Choose the best Focal Length
  5. Select the right Aperture
  6. Get your Shutter Speed Right
  7. Set your ISO
  8. Switch off your Flash
  9. Shoot in Manual Mode
  10. Experiment and Track Results

Let me expand on each tip in more detail below.

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1. Use a Tripod

Perhaps the most important tip is to secure your digital camera to something that will ensure it doesn’t move during the taking of your shots. This is especially important in photographing fireworks simply because you’ll be using longer shutter speeds which will not only capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement of the camera itself. The best way to keep your camera still is with a tripod (read our series on tripods and how to use and buy them). Alternatively – keep in mind that there are other non Tripod options for beating camera shake.

2. Remote Release

One way to ensure your camera is completely still during fireworks shots is to invest in a remote release device. These will vary from camera to camera but most have some sort of accessory made for them. The other way of taking shots without touching your camera is to use the self timer. This can work but you really need to be able to anticipate shots well and its very very hit and miss (read more on remote shutter releases).

3. Framing Your Shot

One of the most difficult parts of photographing fireworks is working out where to aim your camera. The challenge you’ll face in doing this is that you generally need to aim your camera before the fireworks that you’ll be photographing goes off – anticipation is key. Here are a few points on getting your framing right.

  • Scope out the location early – Planning is important with fireworks and getting to the location early in order to get a good, unobstructed position is important. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won’t have people’s heads bobbing up into your shots (also consider what impact you’ll have on others around you also). Take note of where fireworks are being set up and what parts of the sky they are likely to be shot into – you might also want to try to ask some of those setting up the display for a little information on what they are planning. Also consider what focal lengths you might want to use and choose appropriate lenses at this time (rather than in the middle of the show).
  • Watch your Horizons – One thing that you should always consider when lining up fireworks shots is whether your camera is even or straight in it’s framing. This is especially important if you’re going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Keeping horizons straight is something we covered previously on this site and is important in fireworks shots also. As you get your camera on your tripod make sure it’s level right from the time you set up.
  • Vertical or Horizontal? – There are two main ways of framing shots in all types of photography, vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape). Both can work in fireworks photography but I personally find a vertical perspective is better – particularly as there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work if you’re going for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length of if you’re wanting to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in the one shot – but I don’t tend to go there that often.
  • Remember your framing – I find that when I photograph fireworks that I spend less time looking in my viewfinder and more looking at the sky directly. As a result it’s important to remember what framing you have and to watch that segment of the sky. Doing this will also help you to anticipate the right time for a shot as you’ll see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sky.

4. Focal Length?

One of the hardest parts of photographing fireworks is having your camera trained on the right part of the sky at the right time. This is especially difficult if you’re shooting with a longer focal length and are trying to take more tightly cropped shots. I generally shoot at a wider focal length than a tight one but during a show will try a few tighter shots (I usually use a zoom lens to give me this option) to see if I can get lucky with them. Of course zoomed in shots like the one to the left can be quite effective also. They enable you to really fill the frame with great color. Keep in mind however that cropping of your wider angle fireworks shots can always be done later to get a similar impact in your photography.

5. Aperture

A common question around photographing fireworks displays is what aperture to use. Many people think you need a fast lens to get them but in reality it’s quite the opposite as the light that the fireworks emit is quite bright. I find that apertures in the mid to small range tend to work reasonably well and would usually shoot somewhere between f/8 to f/16.

6. Shutter Speed

Probably more important to get right than aperture is shutter speed. Fireworks move and as a result the best photographs of them capture this movement meaning you need a nice long exposure. The technique that I developed when I first photographed fireworks was to shoot in ‘bulb’ mode. This is a mode that allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter (preferably using a remote shutter release of some type). Using this technique you hit the shutter as the firework is about to explode and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (generally a few seconds).

You can also experiment with set shutter speeds to see what impact it will have but I find that unless you’re holding the shutter open for very long exposures that the bulb technique works pretty well.

Don’t keep your shutter open too long. The temptation is to think that because it’s dark that you can leave it open as long as you like. The problem with this is that fireworks are bright and it doesn’t take too much to over expose them, especially if your shutter is open for multiple bursts in the one area of the sky. By all means experiment with multiple burst shots – but most people end up finding that the simpler one burst shots can be best.

7. ISO

Shooting at a low ISO is preferable to ensure the cleanest shots possible. Stick to ISO 100 and you should be fine.

8. Switch off your Flash

Shooting with a flash will have no impact upon your shots except to trick your camera into thinking it needs a short exposure time. Keep in mind that your camera’s flash will only have a reach of a few meters and in the case of fireworks even if they were this close a flash wouldn’t really have anything to light except for some smoke which would distract from the real action (the flashing lights).Switch your flash off.

9. Shoot in Manual Mode

I find I get the best results when shooting in manual exposure and manual focus modes. Auto focusing in low light can be very difficult for many cameras and you’ll end up missing a lot of shots. Once your focusing is set you’ll find you don’t really need to change it during the fireworks display – especially if you’re using a small aperture which increases depth of field. Keep in mind that changing focal lengths will mean you need to need to adjust your focusing on most lenses.

10. Experiment and Track Results

Throughout the fireworks display periodically check your results. I generally will take a few shots at the start and do a quick check to see that they are OK before shooting any more. Don’t check after every shot once you’ve got things set up OK (or you’ll miss the action) but do monitor yours shots occasionally to ensure you’re not taking a completely bad batch.

Also experiment with taking shots that include a wider perspective, silhouettes and people around you watching the display. Having your camera pointed at the sky can get you some wonderful shots but sometimes if you look for different perspectives you can get a few shots that are a little less cliche and just as spectacular. Most of the best shots that I’ve seen in the researching of this article have included some other element than the fireworks themselves – whether it be people, buildings, landmarks or wider cityscape perspectives.

More Tips from DPS Readers

  • “Find Out the Direction of the Wind – You want to shoot up wind, so it goes Camera, Fireworks, Smoke. Otherwise they’ll come out REALLY hazy.”
  • “Also, I find that if you shoot from a little further back and with a little more lens, you can set the lens to manual focus, focus it at infinity and not have to worry about it after that.”
  • “Remember to take advantage of a zero processing costs and take as many pictures as possible (more than you’d normally think necessary). That way, you’ll up your chances of getting that “perfect” shot.”
  • “Make sure you are ready to take pictures of the first fireworks. If there isn’t much wind, you are going to end up with a lot of smoke in your shot. The first explosions are usually the sharpest one.”
  • “Get some black foam core and set your camera to bulb. Start the exposure when the fireworks start with the piece of foam core in front of the lens. Every time a burst happens move the foam core out of the way. You will get multiple firework bursts in one exposure”
  • “Another tip I would add to this is pre-focus if possible (need to be able to manually focus or lock down focus for good) before the show starts so other elements in the frame are sharp They did mention that you only need to focus once but its a lot easier to take a few shots before the show starts and check them carefully rather than wait until the show has begun and you are fiddling with focus instead of watching fireworks!”

Tell us your fireworks display photography tips in comments below. Don’t forget to tell us which city you’re in and what the fireworks are like there!

We post tutorials like this every day – Get more via email with our free weekly newsletter.

UPDATE: Check out our 2nd guide to photographing fireworks with 15 great tips.

Also – if you really want to level up your fireworks photography – check out this fireworks photography eBook – it’s got everything you’ll need to take great photos!

Photograph Houston on the 4th by Micah Goff on 500px

Houston on the 4th by Micah Goff on 500px

Bonus Fireworks Lesson!

Our stunning Night Photography Course includes a bonus video lesson on photographing fireworks. It's on sale for just $49 USD (save 50%) for the next few days only. 

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • mohamadov September 1, 2013 03:57 am

    fireworks photo and i newbie :))
    Just to share yups
    in beach resort of indonesian just trying photo with my canon 600D
    visit my blog

  • Cindy Seering August 26, 2013 11:53 pm

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  • JulianO August 4, 2013 01:58 pm

    I think people with tripods should experiment with moving/rotating the camera during a long-exposure shot. Depending on how much movement you give it (and when), you can create some really interesting visuals.

    Though people here have said that photographing fireworks is 'capturing what you see', I would have to disagree. I think that photographing fireworks is more about painting with light and dark. No need to limit yourself to just what you can see.

  • Kasandra Jeane July 14, 2013 12:26 am
    Some fun ones here i took this year ^^

  • Chris Flees July 13, 2013 03:34 pm

    Great article on photographing fireworks. Fireworks photography will almost never turn out the way an individual wants by just trying to capture them in a standard mode. Your advise is very sound and has generated many well shot and composed images. Thank you for sharing this so more people can capture amazing fireworks images.

  • BrianD July 7, 2013 12:27 am

  • Jen July 6, 2013 11:53 am

    Thank you! I used a lot of your advice for the fireworks last night and I got some great shots! I appreciate all your insight.

  • Rockin Rita July 6, 2013 01:31 am

    Thank you for the great article. A wise man told me to "Learn something new everyday". I plan to never stop learning. Here is my first attempt:

  • RockinRita July 6, 2013 01:24 am

    Thank you for the great article. I love this site and learning new things. Here is my attempt.

  • JohnE Nikon July 6, 2013 12:57 am

    I used a handheld flash in this album to light paint/ flash foreground interest.

  • Jason July 5, 2013 12:07 pm

    So many of you have fantastic photos. Good job and Kudos!!

    I have a spine injury so I can't be as creative as I would like to be - but at least I could take these images

  • Gino Lufor July 5, 2013 11:57 am

    these pictures were done without tripod on new year.
    there was a little wind

  • Dan Oksnevad July 5, 2013 08:28 am

    Great tips, Darren! Investing in a shutter release cable or remote is key. I like to use the bulb setting & experiment for the right exposure. Excited to get out and shoot some fireworks tonight!

  • nick mares July 5, 2013 08:16 am

    thanks to all involved on his post i learned some good points.
    the wind coming in at the right time to helped to compose this shot.

    more shots of fireworks ca be seen here;

  • Johany July 5, 2013 06:51 am

    I have taken some shots over the years, nothing big but I'm happy with how they came out! Enjoy!

  • Maynard July 5, 2013 05:00 am

    4th of July in Alaska... the sky is not dark, even if the fireworks displays are usually set for late in the evening like 10 to midnight. So I think long exposures will not be advisable. Any experience in these conditions?

  • John July 5, 2013 04:59 am

    Thanks for the great article. Another tip I would add is to pay attention to the weather and count the time it takes the first shell to go up in order to have a frame of reference as to how long to keep the shutter open. Wind and humidity affect the rate at which the shells reach apogee. Also, I find the timing is more about when to OPEN the shutter, rather than when to close it. My default setup is usually 4 secs @f8 on manual, ISO 100, 70mm telephoto, AF off, pattern metering. I use a wireless shutter trigger (Yongnuo are hard to beat for the price).

    Here in the Southeast US the July 4th atmosphere can sometimes be very dense due to the humidity, and that will slow the aerial shells down just enough to affect the overal timing of the shot. Last year it was not humid but windy, so I took advantage of that rarity to get the shells to look like palm trees and marsh grasses.

    Here is a shot from last year's windy July 4th, using the timing technique as I described above:

  • stacie July 5, 2013 04:57 am

    Great tips on how to photograph fireworks. This covered all the basics!

  • John July 5, 2013 04:26 am

    Thanks for the great article. Another tip I would add is to pay attention to the weather and count the time it takes the first shell to go up in order to have a frame of reference to how long to keep the shutter open. I find the timing is more about when to OPEN the shutter, rather than when to close it.

    Here in the Southeast US the July 4th atmosphere can sometimes be very dense due to the humidity, and that will slow the aerial shells down just enough to affect the overal timing of the shot. Last year it was not humid but windy, so I took advantage of that rarity to get the shells to look like palm trees and marsh grasses.

    My default setup is usually 4 secs @f8 on manual, ISO 100, 70mm telephoto, AF off, pattern metering.

  • GM Studio July 4, 2013 12:25 am

    Great tips, all of them very useful to get very good fireworks pictures. The next challenge for me was to use the fireworks as background for a portrait photo, it was not easy at the beginning but the use of the flash can add some creative effects having the firework as background.

  • jeff July 3, 2013 06:39 am

    Fantastic post full of great tips, thanks! This will be my first attempt so we'll see how it goes! I came across a post I thought I'd share with those who don't necessarily have good camera equipment but would still like to try and practice on their mobile devices (me last year): Thanks again! Looking forward to the challenge.

  • Eva July 3, 2013 04:01 am

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it already, but always bring an umbrella and something waterproof to quickly put your gear in if it starts to rain. One year, it was sprinkling just a tiny bit and I took lots of fine photos from under an umbrella I propped up on my tripod. The weather radar didn't seem to indicate there would be any real rain. But suddenly, it just started downpouring. I got lucky because I had a trash bag to cover my gear and run for my car, but others around me weren't so lucky.

  • Chris Renton July 3, 2013 01:19 am

    Great article, thanks. I've found the few times I've photographed fireworks it's always been a bit hit and miss, but will try bulb mode next time. I guess this works for lighting too!

  • Nuspa July 2, 2013 07:21 pm

  • Nuspa July 2, 2013 07:20 pm

    last year fireworks party in Italy:

  • Tony July 2, 2013 03:34 am

    I will be on a riverboat during the fireworks display. I do know it will be stopped in the middle of the river during the display but was wondering if anyone had tips for these conditions. How steady the boat will be is not predictable.

  • maria martins June 25, 2013 09:18 pm

    thanks for the tip,i am going to hollidays next mouth I recently bout a canon 700d my lens is 18-55mm this is ok or I need to buy something else?or I can take good photos with this lens?i don't know to work with these camera very well yet.can you help me with this please.than you maria.

  • Dominique / York Place Studios June 11, 2013 03:36 am

    Thanks very much for the tips! I have only photographed fireworks once so far but my aim is to have a few more attempts this year and hopefully these tips will make it a bit easier! :)

  • Gavin April 14, 2013 12:54 am

    Thanks for this guide. I have been asked to photo my mates firework party later in the year. I can remember last year when i took some photos at the local firework party and they came out dreadful, So i,m going to take note of all the key points here.


  • Jackson Michelle March 8, 2013 10:14 pm

    Thanks for this great post. I looking forward to try some of the tips. A tip from my is to try this website ist great when you want to transfer your photo to canvas.

  • Robert T February 19, 2013 05:10 am

    I found your site about taking photographs of fireworks and decided to try my hand at it. I went to Disneyland last night to take pictures of their firework display. This is my first attempt at taking photographs of fireworks.

    Any comments or constructive suggestions are welcome.

  • Darren Hemme January 16, 2013 09:58 am

    "Heya i'm for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to offer one thing again and aid others such as you aided me."

  • robert pugh January 13, 2013 08:51 am

    loving your post on the fireworks, I'm shooting a wedding in september and they are having fireworks witch iv been asked to photograph.

    i understand the aperture and bulb mode no problem but as the sky will be dark and nothing to focus on were would you start with focusing ?


  • Vince Photography January 9, 2013 09:06 pm

    Here is the result in New Years Eve.


  • Kelly @ In the Mom Light Blog January 5, 2013 01:16 pm

    Ohhhh I just got my first DSLR, and I read your book about Pro Blogging, which is how I found this website. My husband can't wait for the first opp to use my new DSLR with his tri-pod for fireworks! Pinning this tutorial!

  • Steve December 30, 2012 08:11 pm

    One I took in Italy.
    Just to share

  • Johnny July 10, 2012 01:41 pm

    Here's the result of my work with your tips.

  • JohnE Nikon July 9, 2012 11:26 pm

  • Shobhit July 8, 2012 02:45 am

    Some Fireworks pics I took on 4th July 2012.

    Couldn't make it to NYC to see Macy's fireworks, but went to a nearby lake side.

  • Johnny July 7, 2012 08:18 am

    I wanted to thank you for your tips on shooting fireworks. I followed them and took the best fireworks pictures that I've ever taken. The key for me was shooting in bulb mode. I was able to time the bursts after awhile and got wonderful shots.

    Thanks again.


  • Mike July 7, 2012 02:58 am

    While many times you do want to use a tripod when photographing fireworks - I tried something a little different and I really liked the results. Mike
    [eimg link='' title='PML Fireworks' url='']

  • JohnE Nikon July 7, 2012 02:37 am

    The one thing I wish I would have thought of was using flash. In many of pictures there were geese in the lake and I would love to see how they would show up if I flashed them.[eimg url='' title='FireWorks2012#5761845054580605602']

  • Andy Sway July 6, 2012 05:56 am

    Thank you for these tips! I got the best firework images that I have ever taken. I used my Nikon D80, my Tamaron Macro lens with the auto focus off, and settings with F9 for about a 3 second exposure. My SLIK tripod made all the difference this year as well as your other tips. I tried the remote release, but I guess I need a new battery for it as it only worked part of the time. pressing the shutter repeatedly did not hurt anything. I got crisp and interesting shots. After a while I got in a groove knowing by sense of timing when I should press the shutter for when the explosions would be most striking. Thanks again!

  • Marcus Davis July 6, 2012 05:11 am

    Try to get something in the foreground of your pictures. Eventually, just fireworks starts to get a bit boring. I also agree about the smoke. A breeze is nice for getting rid of the smokey haze.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer July 6, 2012 04:06 am

    Over the years I have since adapted all the tips in this post, which culminated last night in making these fireworks images over the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg Florida:

    In the extra tips section it recommends using black foam, but I used a white postcard sent to me by Staples to cover the front of my lens (77mm).

    The prefocusing on infinity is definitely the way to go if you are far enough away from the fireworks. Before it was dark I focused on a building on the horizon and then set my DSLR to manual focus mode and ended the night with every shot in focus no problem.

  • RobertNYC July 6, 2012 02:02 am

    I used these tips and got some amazing shots on the NY Macey's fireworks. Thanks!! Use them, they work.

  • ARC_08 July 5, 2012 03:47 pm

    Thanks Darren, I love my first ever fireworks display images. Using bulb mode, on a tripod with remote shutter, f8, I set the ISO to auto (default on 800), however, it only stays from 100 to 200 ISO and yet I got great images. Amazing.

  • John Ireland July 5, 2012 10:57 am

    I violated many of the rules above (no tripod because I left the right quick release at home and Aperture Priority mode versus manual mode) but I think the shots came out pretty good. The only problem I had was a limited field of view from the 35mm lens on a DX camera (Nikon D5000 with 35mm f1.8 DX lens). I think the shots show how good this DX prime is on a Nikon camera.

  • Scottc July 5, 2012 06:47 am

    A great refresher, and the photos in response to this article are incredible.

    With only a few opportunities a year to shoot them, I've found fireworks more difficult to master than I originally thought.

  • lori burrows July 5, 2012 02:30 am
    Thanks for the tips, love my photos and was able to enjoy the show.

  • Candace Cunning July 5, 2012 02:26 am

    [eimg link='' title='Corner Brook Canada Day' url='']

    My Canada Day shot, taken in Corner Brook Newfoundland!

  • Steve July 4, 2012 06:12 pm

    Watch the dangers in Italy they launch them off anyhow and anywhere and very big ones too:

  • Shutter Wide Shut July 4, 2012 12:20 pm

    Great post! Here are some of my own shots....

    [eimg link='' title='NDP Rehearsal 2012 Fireworks Display' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Gong Xi Fa Cai' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='The First Burst' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Singapore National Day Parade 2011 Rehearsal {Explored}' url='']

  • Barry Perhamsky July 4, 2012 10:53 am

    to photograph fireworks you do need a tripod. Next take a manual meter reading of the city skyline. Note how long the blast of one firework is. Say it's 2 seconds. Then determain what lens opening is correct for 2 seconds for the skyline or whatever you wish to phoptgraph the fireworks against. 2 seconds at any f/stop is correct for the fireworks ( if that's how long the firework lasts) The larger f/stop opening the wider the streeks and visa versa. You can have shots in Washington D.C., NewYork, Boston, and of course my home town Baltimore, Maryland. Put them in a group. Of course you won't be able to be at all the places at the same time. Duh!! Have Fun. I wrote this fast, time running out and library is about to close... good night.

  • Linda Ryma July 3, 2012 04:38 am

    Photographed fireworks for the first time last night using this article as my guide. Got some great shots!! Thanks!!!

  • alannadawson April 26, 2012 06:27 pm

    i like the good tips thank you

  • Elizabeth April 19, 2012 08:18 am

    I love this article. Since I live right next to Walt Disney World, I can work on photographing fireworks every night!

  • Daniel Gossage April 5, 2012 07:03 pm

    I am a complete newbie with a digital camera. Your site is of great value and has helped me not only to think more about how to take better photos but, also how to take better quality pictures. It is great being able to take so many photos. In the old days you had to pay for film. What a difference the digital age has made to photo shoots! Knowing how to blog is one thing taking great shots with your 'diji' camera is another!

  • Apramit March 23, 2012 08:19 pm

    great share!Thanks :)

  • DiNg March 3, 2012 06:48 pm

    I followed your tips on how to take fireworks photos and got good shots on my first attempt! Thanks and more power to you! :)

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  • Jessie Toy Story Parties January 10, 2012 04:49 am

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  • Daniel January 8, 2012 12:33 am

    Got to shoot New Years in Reykjavik this year, there are a couple of photos from the event at the address below including a great fireworks shot around the famous church, about 3rd or 4th photo down. Shot this using a wide angle with an aperture of f/16 and using a cable release on bulb mode, exposed for about 3-4 seconds.

  • Robert January 6, 2012 03:51 am

    Wow so many great Firework shots!!!
    Nice share, thanks.

  • Geegee January 4, 2012 11:12 am

    Really interesting article.Will try this next time.


  • Hjörleifur January 2, 2012 11:16 am

    got this one using these tips ...

  • Ann-Marie Mair January 1, 2012 09:31 am

    Your website continues to be an immense help with the basic stuff I keep forgetting. Can't wait to try out the fireworks with this old 10D I have been saddled with because our 7D is in being "mended" (I think). It kept overheating during videoing. Happy New Year everyone.

  • Kara Wilson January 1, 2012 03:04 am

    I will be photographing in Niagara Falls tonight for NYE. They have two firework displays one at 8:45 and the second at mid-night. I am hoping for a great outcome. I will post my results tomorrow.

  • DonSanAntone December 31, 2011 05:12 pm

    during new year's eve there are 3 fireworks displays that occur in san antonio, texas --at seaworld in the early evening, a bit later at fort sam (army) and then at hemisfair plaza downtown where over 300k folks attend a huge party.

    this year i hope to shoot all 3 so i keep things simple: canon 50d dslr with 28-135 zoom, tripod and remote switch and i set the camera full manual (IS off), bulb mode, ISO:150 and use f/11 aperture. while shooting i use the 'old school' 'thousand one, thousand two...' technique to time my shots and use the camera's lcd for immediate feedback and adjust the exposure time accordingly.

    i start the shot (hold the remote switch down) once i can see the fireworks streaming to their respective apex (counting mentally as it occurs) and don't release the switch 'til the fireworks explode and reach their maximum illumination. i also count the intervals between the fireworks to help me anticipate the next shot.

  • Scottc December 30, 2011 11:26 am

    This is great advice in photographing fireworks, DPS has this figured out!

  • Nikon Baby December 30, 2011 10:50 am

    Interesting article !

  • Grace December 30, 2011 07:56 am

    I've learned so much from this tutorial. Here's my latest attempt. Looking forward to the New Year for some spectacular fireworks display.

  • raghavendra December 30, 2011 01:57 am

    festival season

  • GPRSG November 6, 2011 11:26 pm

    Any body knows how to reduce burn out with dslr camera.

  • Bryan November 6, 2011 05:18 am

    bonfire night in the UK tonight. just heading out to get some shots

  • ppfinder September 24, 2011 12:46 am

    This is another area of photography that is difficult to achieve good photos unless there is very little blur. Using the blur analysis part of my software really helped to define blur and non blur firework photos quickly. Because the shutter is open so long even the wind can blur a good photo. Because perfect picture finder has blur analysis you can really see which photos are good and which have more blur.

    For anybody who is interested see info below.

    Over the last year Perfect Picture Finder Software has been developed. This software is unique, to find it type into Google “Perfect Picture Finder” or go to
    What this software attempts to do and does it well is two things: It attempts to find perfect, very good or good pictures depending on the option set. It looks through the hard drive and displays all pictures in one of the above categories. You also have options to ignore certain types of blur, light, strong colours etc. when doing a search.
    The second very useful part of the software is that you can also find Poor and Very Poor photos. It displays these photos and gives you a choice of whether to delete them or not. This is a great way of increasing space while removing photos you really do not wish to keep because of things like blur.
    Finally it comes with something called “Blur Analysis” this is very useful and was designed to quickly pin point pictures that had a lot of blur so they could be removed on the fly. This was developed because most photographers do full day shoots one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Half way through your shoot you can quickly insert your SD card’s pictures and let the perfect picture finder quickly display the percentage of blur it has found. You can then quickly view the full size picture to see for yourself if you need to retake that photo again before leaving that shoot.
    For more information please visit the web-site.

  • Jz September 8, 2011 11:38 am

    I followed the tutorial here are my results

  • Dergen August 17, 2011 01:40 pm

    I am attending the Yokohama Fireworks Festival tonight.. and.. i really appreciate your article here today.. 8000 fireworks and 500,000 people.. I better head down there now and get myself a spot.. if any of the shots work out.. i will be sure to post one here..

  • Mehreen August 16, 2011 07:13 am
    It didn't really come out like I wanted to because I didn't have a tripod and because it's the first time I tried, So it isn't that amazing as all the rest but I think that it is different.

  • Shaq August 9, 2011 02:52 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!. Excellent tutorial and I could get some nice clicks with my Canon P&S (SX30) last night. Used a tripod, manual focus, shutter speed between 15 seconds to 60 seconds (yeah some shots are blownout, but majority look nice) aperture f8.
    Have a look at some of the pictures
    . Appreciate comments and suggestions!

  • sriram tallapragada July 29, 2011 03:21 pm

    thq guys for ur tutorial on Fire works,this is my result

  • joshua July 15, 2011 05:23 am

    Here is my first attempt at photographing fireworks. Here is a link to my blog with some photos

  • RegularGuy July 12, 2011 12:39 pm

    Leo - I don't know what Web browser you use, but all of the ones I've tried have a 'Print' function built in. For Firefox, you click 'File' then 'Print'. Or you can use the Firefox keyboard shortcut of 'Ctrl-P' to print the page.

    My copy of Internet Explorer (IE 8) has a 'Print' icon on the top, or like Firefox, you can use the keyboard shortcut of 'Ctrl-P' (hold the 'Ctrl' key, then press 'P').

    If you want to print Web pages to a PDF file, there are several free programs available for download ("PrimoPDF" for example) that will let you print ANYTHING to a PDF file.

  • Leo July 12, 2011 12:20 pm


  • Luís July 12, 2011 12:50 am

    Hi Darren, i usually set my tripod and camera before the fireworks start so i can do some cityscape test-shots.
    as soon as i'm satisfied with the results, i program the camera manually for a 2 or 3 point underexposure - the rest of the light will be taken from the fireworks themselves. i like to shoot on manual, any ISO from 100 to 200 is OK. i use self-timer (2") to ensure camera remains stabilized, and i give more importance to the exposure time than the aperture: usually no longer than 10 seconds. to keep a good composition i try to avoid more than one fireworks explosion per photo, otherwise the picture might be a little confusing. this one is my favorite exception: best regards

  • Theresa Schafroth July 10, 2011 10:41 pm

    To BigBearNelson,

    On June 28 Darren says to be sure to post your photos in the forum at

    You might try re-posting there.

  • BigBearNelson July 9, 2011 01:15 am

    I shot fireworks for the first time this year. It was a lot of fun! Here are some of my shots:

  • Theresa Schafroth July 7, 2011 10:22 pm

    Darren said to not forget to post our photos in the forum, but I can't find the forum. Can someone post the link please?

  • Annie July 7, 2011 07:22 pm

    Wow so many great Firework shots!!!
    Here's my Newb attempt:

  • RegularGuy July 6, 2011 04:01 pm

    Chris, sometimes the best you can manage is incremental improvements in your technique from one show to another. I am almost embarrassed by the number of years it took before I got the images I wanted from Chicago's lakefront show - and now that show has been cancelled.

    Keep practicing. Find some local summer festivals with fireworks to hone your exposure skills. Then next July 4th you will be in top form - with a better location - for the big show.

  • Theresa Schafroth July 6, 2011 12:49 pm

    This is the first time I've taken a decent shot of fireworks. Here are two of my favorite photos.

  • Alan Robertson July 6, 2011 10:25 am

    Camera RAW works well, especially with the lighter hues in the fireworks.

  • Chris July 6, 2011 07:51 am

    Thank you for the tips.
    Bulb mode was definitely useful especially for exposing foreground objects.
    Unfortunately I ended up in bad spot (in spite of scouting one day earlier) where fireworks got blocked by building. If only I had moved 50 feet or to other side of lake, I could have improved my pictures.

    But the important thing was that thanks to the tips and the exercise I improved my technique and now am ready for next fireworks.

  • Nathaniel July 6, 2011 03:47 am

    Thanks so much for these tips. I used them last night and ended up with pictures that were much better than last year's (though I still need practice to get pictures as good as the ones in this post)

  • Sarah July 5, 2011 01:53 pm

    Thank you for these tips. I took some wonderful photos tonight thanks to this article!

  • Keith Birmingham July 5, 2011 06:53 am

    What White Balance should I set for when shooting fireworks? I was going to leave it on "daylight", try to set it with as ExpoDisk too.

    If anyone can answer this please zap me an e-mail at

  • Deborah July 5, 2011 02:14 am

    Oh no I think I opened the shutter too long. Last year I used digital and only opened the shutter for less than 10 seconds. With film, I thought I had to hold it longer so I went about 30 seconds. I over-heard my photo pal saying you have to open it for "at least 30" seconds. so I followed him. now you're telling me it should only be for a few seconds. i hope my film came out well exposed ):

  • Eric July 4, 2011 11:45 am

    Sent, took forever, said dps server unavailable, so sending again, let's see if this one gets posted twice...

    No real point blank answers, guess it's a big secret to those who have it down to a science. Also, why did these people post both of my identical posts, guess they don't really proof read postings, otherwise they'd have seen that I accidentally posted twice as I didn't know they have to do whatever first and therefor hit submit twice.

  • Eric July 4, 2011 11:42 am

    No real point blank answers, guess it's a big secret to those who have it down to a science. Also, why did these people post both of my identical posts, guess they don't really proof read postings, otherwise they'd have seen that I accidentally posted twice as I didn't know they have to do whatever first and therefor hit submit twice.

  • Pinoy Neophyte July 3, 2011 11:50 pm

    thanks! very brief and great tip!

  • Elmis July 2, 2011 11:39 am here you can find some info on focus blur technique

  • Dave July 2, 2011 02:13 am

    my shots of fireworks

  • Yogesh Puranik July 2, 2011 01:37 am

    Hello All,

    Can you please elaborate on focus setting to infinity. Also anybody planning to go to Washington DC for 4th July fireworks. which is the best place to photograph fireworks in DC?


  • Caetano July 2, 2011 12:47 am

  • Eric July 1, 2011 07:53 am

    Hi World,

    First time here, see a lot of people sharing, and that is so very much appreciated. I'm in SoCal (Southern California). For years I have been trying to get some decent shots of Independence Day fireworks, and have yet to achieve that lofty goal.

    I use a Nikon D200 with the kit lens that came with it, a Nikkor 18-135 3.5-5.6, unfortunately that is the only lens I have and purchasing anything at all right now is not an option as I have fallen prey to the severe Depression we are in.

    First off, is this lens sufficient to capture some nice fireworks shots or should I not even bother? Second, if it is doable, what should my settings be in manual mode on a moonless night, the fireworks will be out over the water at Dana Point, an upscale beach destination in SoCals O.C. Third, should I be in B mode where I just hold down the shutter for a second or two, or have it on timer as to not have any camera movement while on tripod? Been taking pictures for decades, at least three or four, never had any formal photographic training, so that's where these questions stem from.

    Just for the halibut, here is a link to the folder of last years Independance Day pix at Dana Point. I know, there are a lot, and watermarked with an old company name, scroll to end and you will see my fireworks pix, they are horrible and these were the "keepers", lol. While viewing that folder, perhaps I'll get some feedback, I always enjoy comments on whether anyone thinks I have "an eye for framing my shots". I always look at everything in the viewfinder, not like those Pros with their camera phones, just look at the subject and click. Ok, I've blabbed enough.

    Anyone reading this going to be in Dana Point Monday for Independence Day?

    Great site, a lot of great info and nice folks who seem to like sharing their work and offering help to others.

    Seems like this is not posting, trying for a third time....

  • Eric July 1, 2011 05:57 am

    Hi World,

    First time here, see a lot of people sharing, and that is so very much appreciated. I'm in SoCal (Southern California). For years I have been trying to get some decent shots of Independence Day fireworks, and have yet to achieve that lofty goal.

    I use a Nikon D200 with the kit lens that came with it, a Nikkor 18-135 3.5-5.6, unfortunately that is the only lens I have and purchasing anything at all right now is not an option as I have fallen prey to the severe Depression we are in.

    First off, is this lens sufficient to capture some nice fireworks shots or should I not even bother? Second, if it is doable, what should my settings be in manual mode on a moonless night, the fireworks will be out over the water at Dana Point, an upscale beach destination in SoCals O.C. Third, should I be in B mode where I just hold down the shutter for a second or two, or have it on timer as to not have any camera movement while on tripod? Been taking pictures for decades, at least three or four, never had any formal photographic training, so that's where these questions stem from.

    Just for the halibut, here is a link to the folder of last years Independance Day pix at Dana Point. I know, there are a lot, and watermarked with an old company name, scroll to end and you will see my fireworks pix, they are horrible and these were the "keepers", lol. While viewing that folder, perhaps I'll get some feedback, I always enjoy comments on whether anyone thinks I have "an eye for framing my shots". I always look at everything in the viewfinder, not like those Pros with their camera phones, just look at the subject and click. Ok, I've blabbed enough.

    Anyone reading this going to be in Dana Point Monday for Independence Day?

    Great site, a lot of great info and nice folks who seem to like sharing their work and offering help to others.

  • mayra June 24, 2011 02:24 pm

    i have a SONY A300 DSLR...what settings should i use? thanks everyone :)

  • tayo April 28, 2011 04:52 am

    Great article on how to capture fire work, i find them very useful....

  • RegularGuy April 18, 2011 05:24 am

    It is all about location, location, location. Chicago used to launch its July 4th fireworks show from a barge in Monroe harbor. That gave photographers set up at Adler Planetarium a spectacular city skyline as a background, and reflective water for the foreground.

    Sadly, the City of Chicago eliminated the large July 4th show in favor of several smaller shows at various locations.

  • Gino Carrozza April 18, 2011 02:53 am

    it's all in the capture of what your seeing..and not really a contest of which or who's is best..I've seen fireworks in many cities including Washington DC , Phil.. NYC and in many states South and my favorite is the Three Rivers display in Pittsburgh and yes, water adds to the show. These are all beautiful captures and it's a matter of how you feel about your shots and what your trying to congrats to everyone showing.. I used to do bulb @ f8 in film but yet to try digital, that will change this year after I've seen this thread..keep shooting pixels are free

  • dan brisbane April 16, 2011 09:48 pm

    I dont think you can beat Sydney's nye fireworks, Brisbanes riverfire may come close

  • Professional Fireworks Photographer April 6, 2011 05:28 am

    Hi, here are soots I took in Carcassonne: [eimg url='' title='IM6CA_-4269+4288-feux-d-artifices-carcassonne-14-juillet.jpg']
    Cannes (for the international fireworks festival:
    [eimg url='' title='IM6CA_-2944+2992-meilleures-photos-feu-d-artifice.jpg']
    Grasse (all that in France): [eimg url='' title='IM6CA_-4745+32-plus-belle-photo-de-feux-d-artifices-de-grasse.jpg']

  • Professional Fireworks Photographer April 1, 2011 08:01 am

    Great post!
    Here are some of my own [eimg url='' title='IM6CA_-2944+2992-meilleures-photos-feu-d-artifice.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IM6CA_-10008+11-feu-artifice-cannes.jpg']

  • Rabant March 17, 2011 02:12 pm

    The fireworks photography tips here are very useful, i also want to share my firework shots using bulb settings. you may view it from this link

  • sangesh February 21, 2011 11:11 pm

    i wanna share some fire works i took using tips given here, and i took then for first time

  • gdkiese January 28, 2011 12:49 am

    another fun technique to use with fireworks is "focus blur". That is manually adjusting your focus throughout the duration of the exposure. You can get some pretty neat results.

    Search Flickr for other focus blur examples.

    Here is one my own...

    [eimg link='' title='Untitled-1' url='']

  • Prithwi Raj January 25, 2011 02:23 am

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks by LACROIX-RUGGIERI (FRANCE)' url='']

  • madhur January 20, 2011 10:39 pm

    Anyone...How to photograph a light show??

  • SwissJon January 3, 2011 07:25 am

    No problem. Don't expect miracles though. Your camera still needs to process the data. What camera do you have?

    I took a look at your photos on Flickr. And really the only difference between your photos and the ones on here are composition and post processing. Basically the photos here are interesting even without the fireworks, the fireworks just add to the overall photo. And the post processing has meant that someone with a tripod has taken a number of photos and photoshop'd them together.

    For a first try you've done ok. You can't expect the same results first time as someone who uses a professional level camera and has been doing it for 20 years. Practice make perfect as they say.

  • rick January 3, 2011 01:33 am

    Thanks SwissJon. My camera was set to Manual, Bulb. I have a couple of decent shots, but not as good as the ones posted in this thread. I will start searching for a faster memory card.

  • SwissJon January 2, 2011 09:50 pm

    The bulb mode is when the shutter stays open for as long as the button is pressed.

    I don't know about your camera, but on my camera, I switched the rotating switch to manual (as opposed to speed priority or aperture priority) and then changed the dial to make the shutter stay open as long as possible.. It goes 1/xths of a sec, 1s 2s, 4s, 8s, 15s, 30s, Bulb. Look it up in the index of the instructions of your SLR.

    However because of what you're doing, I'd highly recommend a tripod and a remote shutter release.

  • SwissJon January 2, 2011 09:50 pm

    The bulb mode is when the shutter stays open for as long as the button is pressed.

    I don't know about your camera, but on my camera, I switched the rotating switch to manual (as opposed to shutter priority or speed priority) and then changed the dial to make the shutter stay open as long as possible.. It goes 1/xths of a sec, 1s 2s, 4s, 8s, 15s, 30s, Bulb. Look it up in the index of the instructions of your SLR.

    However because of what you're doing, I'd highly recommend a tripod and a remote shutter release.

  • SwissJon January 2, 2011 11:32 am

    Thanks for this incredibly useful information.. For the first time ever, I've managed to get some really nice photos of fireworks.. Putting the camera in bulb mode worked magic.. I fired off a few test photos before the party started to get a rough idea of the length of time I could expose for and bingo.. Nice photos and I even managed to enjoy the fireworks because the remote and the tripod moved all the work to my left thumb.. :)

    Rick.. I've found that long exposures take a long time to process there's a lot of data there for your camera to save.. But a couple of things might help reduce that.. First.. Buy yourself a really decent high speed memory card.. That really does seem to make a difference. Second.. Format the card in the camera before you go out.. I have found that my camera takes longer to save pictures to a nearly full card than to an empty one.

    Last tip.. Enjoy the magic.. Only getting half the fireworks on film isn't going to ruin the day, but getting all stressed about things might.. If you had a nice time, you'll look back at the photos and remember that, if you were stressed about the camera, you'll rememer that and not enjoy the photos so much.. I find that I'm a much muc better photographer when I'm in a good mood.

  • rick January 2, 2011 06:04 am

  • rick January 2, 2011 06:03 am

    I tried shooting fireworks during new year's eve using RAW. Does it really take time (10-20 secs) to process the picture? I wanted to shoot more fireworks but my camera was "BUSY." I just wanted to know if perhaps something is wrong with my camera. Thanks.

    BTW HAppy New Year!

  • Mitul January 1, 2011 10:16 pm

    Hi Darren,

    what is this Bulb shutter speed. I head of white Balance which is bulb mode. I have Nikon D90 and the thing I know is white-balance in bulb mode.

    Appreciate you Reply

    Thank you.

  • Mei Teng January 1, 2011 06:02 am

  • Christine Giglio December 31, 2010 09:47 pm

  • Bridget Casas December 31, 2010 07:03 pm

    Since today is Dec. 31st, I hope there are some fireworks somewhere close tonight! I really want to give this a try. Thank you for running this article again.

  • CJ Standish December 31, 2010 05:58 pm

    No need to hold the black card, keep the shutter open to combine more than one display. Just combine the images you want using Photoshop. That way you don't have to worry about moving the camera, touching the lens, or adding unwanted light.

  • Scott Holmes December 31, 2010 02:51 am

    I really hope to get more shots this year with this guide![eimg link='' title='Best Pictures' url='']

  • nick December 31, 2010 12:28 am

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_6579 fireworks from new york city july 4, 2010' url='']

  • nick December 31, 2010 12:26 am

    ny city 2010 4th of july

  • nick December 31, 2010 12:24 am

  • JesseAdams December 30, 2010 10:43 pm

    Here is a shot from the Fourth of July fireworks in New York in 2009. Unfortunately I didn't have a tripod with me.

  • My December 30, 2010 08:39 pm

    what is bulb mode? I have canon 500D, how can i use it??

  • lalalalal8 December 30, 2010 05:06 pm

    Thank you, this is great. I got a new camera for Christmas, and I live in the Niagara Region, which has fireworks over the Falls every weekend. But this time of year...NEW YEARS EVE at Niagara Falls, there is going to be spectacular fireworks. One show at 9pm and one at midnight. I'm going to give it a try...thanks for the inspirations!

  • Gene M. December 30, 2010 04:42 pm

    It seems to me that fireworks and lightning have a lot in common: long range, dark background, bright subject that is visible for only a short time. So there should be some things in common between the techniques used in lightning and fireworks photography.

  • Mei Teng December 30, 2010 03:37 pm

    I hope to photography some fireworks display at the countdown to 2011 tomorrow. Thanks for this reminder post.

  • solevator December 30, 2010 02:41 pm

    Thanx a lot! New Year fireworks in glacy Moscow would be excellent and I would fix 'em))

  • Jackson December 30, 2010 02:27 pm

    This is the grand finale of the Red White and Boom display in Columbus, Ohio. I used f/10 aperture and 8 second exposure on bulb.[eimg link='' title='Grand Finale (Edited)' url='']

  • Jenny December 30, 2010 01:44 pm

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to get too close to NYE's fireworks tomorrow night, Melbourne time. It's just madness in the city at that time. I have a spot which is on a hill and the view is the city in front but about 3 kilometres away.

    Should I use the same sort of settings suggested? I only have a normal lens which comes wiht a Canon EOS 1000D camera.

  • LELO December 30, 2010 04:36 am

    New Years Eve in Sydney tomorrow and i'm all set with tips & hints - i'm even more excited now. Thanks!!

  • Anna Patrick December 29, 2010 06:44 pm

    It takes great skills and good technique to take fireworks photos, thanks for these tips! Here is a good collection of stunning fireworks photos

  • Gary W. December 19, 2010 12:24 pm

    Some what counter to the author's suggestions I tend to go with a long exposure, and an F-stop in the 10-14 range. Depending on the number of fireworks that go off during that time it can produce wonderful results, or be over exposed. So probably I would switch strategies during the grand finale back to what is stated above.

  • matet December 11, 2010 01:16 pm do i use the bulb mode??should i press it halfway while waiting for the fireworks to explode?

  • Gabriel November 22, 2010 06:17 am


    I wrote a post on my blog about fireworks photography and linked to this article.
    Here is the link:

    PS: Faisal: great shot!

  • photographer leicester November 2, 2010 04:47 pm

    Thanks for the info. This is going to be useful for my shoot on Saturday night!

  • Rob November 1, 2010 03:35 pm

    Thank you all for posting your tips.
    Tonights photos went perfectly with out a hitch.
    If I could upload a photo I would, there seems to be no upload feature on here.
    Thanks again.


  • Gaj October 20, 2010 02:03 am

    Choose Daylight WB

  • Biswarup Biswas October 20, 2010 01:54 am

    Dear Daren,

    When I was thinking of graduating from a compact camera to a DSLR, a friend of mine has suggested DPS. I have started following it and an wonderful world has opened in front of me. Thanks a lot for producing such a wonderful resource week after week. I have recently purchased a Nikon D90 with a 18-105 kit lens and have found that the tips provided by you in this site make my shootings a lot more enjoyable. Thank you once again.

    I am from Calcutta, India. Diwali (Festival of lights) is round the corner and this time I am planning to try and capture some fireworks. And as usual, upon searching, I have found this excellent article in DPS. You have touched upon all the aspects that I need to know to shoot fireworks. I mostly try to shoot in manual mode and always capture in RAW so that I can change the WB (among others) later using ViewNX2. My question is, Ideally, what should be the WB setting in my camera for shooting fireworks if I don't want to depend on post processing? Hope to get a reply from you. Thanks.

  • Faisal September 17, 2010 03:13 am

    opps sorry, here's the image I wanted to share:
    [eimg link='' title='Count me in....??? ??? ????' url='']

  • Faisal September 17, 2010 03:07 am

    Hello friends,
    some nice tips and images indeed. Here one from me, check my flickr site for more. cheers.

  • HDCameraguy September 4, 2010 11:51 am

    So, in Brisbane tonight we have the opening of the Riverfire festival with a massive fireworks display!
    I am hoping to get some good pics, with the help of Darren's tips above.

    It will be the first time ever taking pics of fireworks, so fingers crossed! (I'm actually getting nervous about it) lol.

  • dave September 3, 2010 07:43 pm

    Nice to see such good firework photos the one with the silver mines reflecting on the water looks fantastic

    Fireworks allways look realey good when reflected on water

  • dave September 3, 2010 01:31 am

    Photographing fireworks can be difficult but when it is done right the results can be spectaculer.

    Some of the pictures above are amazing and are well worth me striving for simlar results.

    Good work !!

  • Phine September 1, 2010 06:13 pm

    It's really amazing to see awesome fireworks display photos. I used to wonder how do the photographers manage to capture excellent shots. Your article is very informative and I find it so interesting as well. Keep it up!

  • ememfrick August 22, 2010 09:28 pm

    Thank you for this article! I read it before I went to a fireworks festival this weekend. It was very helpful. I took my shots with a Canon EOS7D and an EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4-5 USM lens.

    Please view, comment, critique...

  • RegularGuy August 2, 2010 07:07 am

    The Fourth of July has passed, but if anyone wants another chance to photograph some serious fireworks displays, there is a pyrotechnic convention coming up in Wisconsin.,0,6631840.story

    The Pyrotechnics Guild International will host its annual convention and display Aug. 8, 11 & 13, at the Wisconsin International Speedway in Appleton, WI. The organizers describe the fireworks shows as, 'the best of the best.'

    Pyrotechnics Guild International:

  • Bertie August 1, 2010 02:09 am

    Look at my photos to see exactly the way fireworks should be captured with a camera! I don't tell secrets, the only one I can tell is that I hold my camera on my hands! I capture them the way I see them! But anyway! If only spherical shells are shot, there is no such art in them, not like Maltese breaking shells! :) Cu!

  • Irene Lee July 28, 2010 08:12 am

    Here's my attempt to photograph fireworks. English Bay, Vancouver. Wed July 21--Team USA in Celebration of Light 2010

  • Irene Lee July 28, 2010 08:10 am

    Here's my attempt to photography fireworks based on the tips and tricks. English Bay, Vancouver. Wed July 21, Team USA in the Celebration of Light 2010.

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks 5' url='']

  • Irene Lee July 28, 2010 08:08 am

    Here's my first attempt on photographing fireworks at English Bay, Vancouver, BC from last Wednesday, July 21. Celebration of Light 2010--Team USA.

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks 5' url='']

  • e11world July 22, 2010 11:04 am

    There will the first day of the Celebration of Lights tonight in Vancouver BC and I'm taking my Canon S2IS and borrowed my friends Sony A300 and thanks to these tips, I'll make it count this time!!

  • Gbenga Loveeyes Images July 15, 2010 11:09 pm

    I am so thrilled by this posts. I seriously will consider doing 1.

  • Michael S. July 13, 2010 04:08 am

    WOW!!! What an incredible show and your pictures are magnificent, by far the best I've ever seen. I encourage everyone to take a look at his gallery. It'll knock your Sox (Not Red ;-) ) off.



  • GonyeaGalleries July 12, 2010 08:44 am


    My wife and I live not for from Boston, Massachusetts. The 4th of July fireworks there are the best I've ever seen in New England. This year a million spectators gathered peacefully on both sides of the Charles River to watch yet another breathtaking program including patriotic music - some of which was performed by the Boston Pops. The fireworks were shot off a long barge, and what really makes this show stand out is the incredible variety of patterns and colors in each burst. This year we saw red hearts and 3-D flowers added to the repertoire.

    As for how the shots were taken, I used a tripod-mounted Nikon D80 at 18mm, remote shutter release, ISO 100, f16, 1-3 sec, WB 4000K, manually focused to infinity, minimum contrast (widest histogram), no sharpening or saturation added at capture. Only some tonal curve and slight saturation boost applied in PP. JPEG output.

    And as for how good the show was, I'll let the pictures do the talking. Hope you like them as much as I did taking them:

    [eimg url='' title='924690463_T6kxb-M.jpg']

    [eimg url='' title='924700986_aRZ5R-M.jpg']

    [eimg url='' title='924708439_jXD9f-M.jpg']

    If you'd like to see the rest of the gallery, just click:
    2010 Boston Fireworks gallery

  • CX July 11, 2010 03:40 pm

    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5214s.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5238s.jpg']

  • CX July 11, 2010 03:37 pm

    Here are some of the pictures I took on July 4th on Hudson River:
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5214s.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5238s.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5261s.jpg']
    [eimg url='' title='IMG_5294s.jpg']

  • Seth July 10, 2010 06:30 am

    My results:

  • Sukesh Kumar July 9, 2010 11:43 pm

    This is my contribution[eimg link='' title='Fireworks-NY-City' url='']

  • Andres July 7, 2010 08:11 am

    [eimg url='' title='34585_1520172842214_1171344163_1554267_6580004_n.jpg']

    [eimg url='' title='34585_1520172962217_1171344163_1554270_723474_n.jpg']

    These were taken in ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida.

    A few things i learned:

    1. watch for the wind. If the dust and debri from the fireworks is coming your way, you will get tons of dirt on the lens. make sure you keep checking the lens as you go.

    2. be careful with your eyes too. i got dust from the fireworks also and it hurts! :)


  • Scott July 7, 2010 02:36 am

    A bean bag makes a great tripod where tripods are not allowed. I put one on a railing and it worked very well.

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks Night at PNC Park' url='']

  • Scott July 7, 2010 02:35 am

    A bean bag makes a great tripod where tripods aren't allowed. I put one on a railing and it worked very well.

    [eimg url='' title='scottmichaels']

  • Sarah July 7, 2010 01:12 am

    [eimg link='' title='DSC_6842' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='DSC_6845' url='']

  • Sarah July 7, 2010 01:09 am

    The article definitely helped me!

  • lilrishangel July 6, 2010 02:22 am

    I followed your Tips and got the best Fireworks Pictures I have gotten in 6 yrs, I sitll have some fiddling to do to perfect it.. I was amazed... I know where to improve for next time, Like remebering to bring my super wide lens. And was super close to them and they were not all in the same spot.. But Thanks you guys...For making this alot easier.. I was always afraid of manual, and now I think i might damble more with it..[eimg url='' title='a>']

  • mike July 6, 2010 01:20 am

    @ Lance - I actually just came in here to share a tip on shooting fireworks over water.

    After you've exposed for the explosion, rather than releasing the shutter and letting it close, take a black flag and cover the top portion of the lens so that only water is being exposed. Hold it there for a few seconds and when you're done, you'll wind up with nice, bright, rich reflections in the water to match the properly-exposed explosions in the sky.

  • delladolittle July 5, 2010 05:29 pm

    From 4th of July Fireworks

  • Dave Nevers July 5, 2010 01:45 pm

    @Lance - regarding shooting over water . . .

    My previous favorite place was along Chicago's lakefront with the city skyline as a backdrop across the harbor. If your lens focal length is wide enough, you will get reflections in the water. Just how clear those reflections are will be a function of the wind which causes wave chop. I've never been to a July 4th display in Chicago where the lake was glass-smooth. Most often it has some choppiness to the water.

    Sadly, the City of Chicago decided to have three smaller displays at different lakefront locations this year. The one downtown will be launched from Navy Pier instead of Monroe Harbor, meaning it will be difficult to include much of the skyline in the photo.

  • Dave Nevers July 5, 2010 01:36 pm

    @Anthony Newsholme - I have found that the 'best' metering method is to bypass the meter (all modes) entirely and switch to manual.

    Start with an aperture between f8 and f16, then either use a fixed shutter speed of 2-4 seconds, or experiment with different 'bulb' exposures.

    If the sequence of shells has them bursting in different locations on the horizon, or at different heights in your frame, that is most desirable, and you can probably go to the 'long' side of bulb exposures. If, however, the pyrotechnicians have set multiple burst for the same place and height, the added light of each new burst will 'burnout' the previous ones under longer shutter speeds.

  • Dave Nevers July 5, 2010 01:29 pm

    You also need to decide if you want background sky visible or not. If not, try to shoot from a western position into an eastern sky, since some sunlight is still visible in the western skies around the time most displays start.

    You can't control the cloud conditions, but a low cloud ceiling will reflect the fireworks light. Great if that's the effect you want, but if you really want the stark contrast of bursting shells against a near-black backdrop, low clouds will yield disappointing results.

    I'll second the comments about wind direction. If you are directly downwind of the display, you could find yourself engulfed in a trailing plume of smoke, unable to see or photograph much of anything.

  • Chellie July 5, 2010 09:24 am

    Oh yippee! I am going to attempt a few of these tips for the 4th. Just a few more hours.. Thanks!

  • Shan July 5, 2010 08:00 am

    Fantastic tips! I got some great shots at the fireworks display, and I owe them in large part to what I read here :)
    Thanks so much!

  • Scole July 5, 2010 03:59 am

    Followed the tips and got some decent shots. Would have been better if the fireworks display was better! Since I don't yet have a release for the D700, I pulled out my D90 and headed to the lake.

    Nikon D90
    Nikon 18-105mm - f/3.5-5.6G
    Neutral density 4x

    Opinions please!

  • Mary Ann Walton July 5, 2010 03:55 am

    GREAT article - thanks for all the guidance you provide via this site!

  • Scole July 5, 2010 03:47 am

    Great tips! Since I don't yet have a release for my D700, I pulled out the D90 to take these at the lake. Did OK for the first time, although I had some issues with focus, as infinity was not good. I've learned never to try to focus in the dark! What do you think?
    [eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • Bruce July 5, 2010 03:47 am

    Another tip that is useful whenever you are doing any kind of night time photography:

    Bring a very small flashlight.
    This may seem like an odd one. If you are in a dark place, waiting for the fireworks display, a pen type of miniature flashlight may be very helpful. You may need it to make quick camera setting or tripod adjustments during your photo shoot.

    Happy Shooting!

  • Scole July 5, 2010 02:55 am

    Thank you, thank you! I read this just in time to try the tips out. I don't have a release for my new D700, so I had to drag out the D90. I think I got a few good shots, but I had a heck of a time focusing. I should never have touched the camera after it got dark! Let me know what you think of my first real attempt at capturing fireworks.

    [eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • Ram July 4, 2010 09:25 pm

    Good Tips for shot fire woks Many of dought in using combnation of shutter, f no. and ISO. I Think now its clear.

  • Peter hearl photography July 4, 2010 06:24 am

    Great article, some useful tips.

  • Photography by Pshemek July 4, 2010 05:36 am

    Shooting fireworks could be very tricky but if you get it right photos are beautiful.

  • mcguireuk July 4, 2010 02:31 am

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks' url='']

  • mcguireuk July 4, 2010 02:27 am

    /> />

  • Kristina July 4, 2010 02:09 am

    thanks for the tips! I'm definitely going to be experimenting with this.

  • Stephany July 3, 2010 05:13 pm

    Thanks for the tips!! I am shooting with Holga.. are films ok too? can I do xpro for fireworks?

  • elane July 3, 2010 11:15 am

    For those out there with fewer toys... I took some last year (my first go 'round) using the timer setting on the camera rather than a remote trigger. I set it for 5sec and then started the timer as soon as I heard the shot go off. I was able to get the smoke trails going up as well as the burst. I had planned on a mountainscape backgound, but a storm moved in earlier and I ended up with a band of clouds covering the mountain. I focused on the bursts instead. I have some posted on my flickr account.[eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • Rob D July 3, 2010 10:11 am

    I hadn't thought about it till I saw this. Now I'm excited to try some fun stuff. Thanks everyone!

  • SolMan July 3, 2010 09:29 am

    One tip I suggest is when using the 'bulb' setting for your shutter speed, use a heavy cloth or jacket to cover the lens, while keeping the shutter open. This let's you block light and reduce the risk of over-exposing your shot, while capturing several different bursts in one shot. You will feel like a matador at a bull fight, but you'll get great results. Be careful not to move your camera when pulling your jacket or cloth from in front of the camera![eimg url='!/photo.php?pid=30528095&id=1021642751' title='photo.php?pid=30528095&id=1021642751']

  • Kari July 3, 2010 07:47 am

    I have been asked to photograph an event out on a charter boat of the party / fireworks / dancing and would love any tips! All of the above in the article are great, but, the main goal is for me to get great portraits of the guests with the fireworks in the background. And, I am too scared that there will not be enough room to break out the tripod! Thanks!!

  • Martin Soler Photography July 3, 2010 07:37 am

    Thanks for these invaluable tips! I scouted out a great place, will probably need to spend the whole day there to ensure there will be space. I shot Paris from it once before but for 14th July (French national day) I will try to get the fireworks. Here is how it looks without fireworks.

  • Anthony Newsholme July 3, 2010 06:36 am

    @ Michael S.- the amount of time you hold the shutter open should be 2 seconds or so. Just long enough to catch the fireworks right before they pop and release after it has finished. Read section # 6 again. It tells you just that.

    @ dreamer - Thanks for your help. I sure could use the wealth of knowledge you have. I still need to know about metering though. What mode would be best? Evaluative, Partial, Spot, or Center- weighted?
    Also should I consider using any filters?

    I am shooting a Canon Xsi/450D, with the standard lens and a 55-250mm.

  • Ghinescu Daniel July 3, 2010 06:25 am

  • Dreamer of Pictures July 3, 2010 02:41 am

    I started shooting fireworks photos in 1974, under the guidance of my boss, a National Capitol Parks photographer in Washington DC. He taught me that tungsten is the best white balance for popping the blue fire in fireworks. I've used Tungsten ever since.

    It is possible to make interesting photos of personal fireworks, i.e., hand-held sparklers and fountains. Use the tripod and the long exposure, but switch to strobe white balance and use a flash to freeze the individual holding the fireworks. This can produce a very interesting edgy effect in which the individual blurs just a bit due to illumination from the fireworks.

  • Michael S. July 3, 2010 02:40 am

    Bulb Mode Shutter Speed???

    I realize this may sound like a very novice question, but how do you determine how long to hold down the shutter button in Bulb Mode when photographing fireworks?



  • Joy Elizabeth July 3, 2010 02:02 am

    [eimg link='' title='2005-0704LakeMurray (8)' url='']

  • Joy Elizabeth July 3, 2010 02:00 am

    Great review ... I went back through some past fireworks shots & studied my data. The best ones were exactly as you stated! YIPPIE ... can't wait to do it again!

  • Anthony Newsholme July 3, 2010 12:16 am

    Hi all, I just got done reading through the tutorial and have just a couple of questions. Darren, if your out there please help with this as well.

    1. What should the white balance be set to?
    2. What metering setting should be used? Evaluative, Partial, Spot, or Center- weighted?
    3. Should I use AI Focus,or AI Servo?

  • mahadeolalbarai July 3, 2010 12:06 am

    you have rise a good topic , it,s a very rare, to take fire work photography . This is a very good topics to revive him self those are interest to update ,its a nice reminder to all

  • Val Smith-O'Brien July 2, 2010 11:27 pm

    Don't know if I'll get the chance to take photos of the spectacular fireworks show that can be seen on the San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. It all depends on whether a fog bank moves in or not. If it does, all that will be seen is colored fog! Even if it is clear, I have to work that night though my plan (if I can escape work in time) is to get up to Frontier Park at Coit Tower.

  • Sukesh Kumar July 2, 2010 11:18 pm

    Very Good tips. I am going today for the fireworks display, will share the result after that. Thanks

  • Kenneth July 2, 2010 04:04 pm

    All right, now I feel more ready to tackle the holiday weekend!

  • Ghinescu Daniel July 2, 2010 08:41 am

    Exposure 7.8
    Aperture f/16.0
    Focal Length 50 mm
    ISO Speed 200
    Exposure Bias 0 EV

    Read more:

  • Ghinescu Daniel July 2, 2010 08:30 am

    Exposure 7.9
    Aperture f/25.0
    Focal Length 62 mm
    ISO Speed 200
    Exposure Bias 0 EV

  • A.G. July 2, 2010 04:48 am

    Thanks for re-posting this.... Tonight ( Canada Day 2010) fireworks should be a good night to try these tips...
    I have a Gorilla Tripod so I just have to find a nice place to position my camera...

  • mcguireuk July 2, 2010 04:24 am

    I just have to share this one that was taken at a local festival weekend. Also shown is basic exif data
    Exposure: 3.2
    Aperture: f/8.0
    Focal Length: 7.3 mm

    ISO Speed: 64
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV

  • Ian McKenzie July 2, 2010 04:23 am

    I would love to be at Canada Day to get some of these shots, but I'm in France for the next month. I think they have their equivalent on the 14th, so I guess I'll try these tips out then.

  • mcguireuk July 2, 2010 04:21 am

    I just have to share this one that was taken at a local festival weekend. Also shown is basic exif data

    Exposure: 3.2
    Aperture: f/8.0
    Focal Length: 7.3 mm
    ISO Speed: 64
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV


  • Lance July 2, 2010 04:18 am

    Going to be at Lake Isabella. I saw some water reflection shots, but didn't see any tips on shooting over water. Anyone got any?

  • Scherrill July 2, 2010 04:13 am

    I want you to know that I love all of your tips. They have been so helpful for me as a beginner!!!
    Thank you so VERY much!!!!

  • Flores July 2, 2010 02:56 am

    One of the big problem is taking the last part of the show whenever they are bombing and bursting the sky with fireworks. At this time, fireworks usually are so massive and bright, even in f/12, it is still too bright. Usually i shorten it into less than 2 seconds as well.

    These are my shots:

  • Jennifer July 2, 2010 02:44 am

    I have seen alot of people talking about setting the manual focus to infinity. What is this and how do you do it???

  • Josh Louw July 2, 2010 02:19 am

    Awsome pics! Cant wait till I get the opportunity to try myself.... Thanks for the post!

  • Michael Glover July 2, 2010 12:44 am

    Use a neutral density filter to block the light and keep the shutter open longer. This was a 25 second exposure. Happy 4th everybody!

    [eimg link='' title='Fireworks Over Torii Gate' url='']

  • Gino C. July 1, 2010 11:16 pm

    Darren, I am from one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Pittsburgh, PA..Surounded by hills the lights and rivers are set against a dark backdrop and the reflections are spectacular to say the least.. When I got my first SLR in the 70's, I learned to shoot around f8 for depth of field and always used bulb/ manuel which I agree is best for digital now.alays with a tripod and cable release. One thing I've found recently is to try and change the focus during mid shot for a colored shadowing of the firework and at times I've changed zoom out during a burst also.. it's fun to play with exposure..Now my adventure is in Bay City, Michigan and trying to find a good place to shoot But I plan to shoot a bunch as they display 3 or 4 days with a carnival so lots of night time shots.

  • Scott July 1, 2010 06:36 am

    Use your camera's bulb setting and use your release to control how long you want the shutter to stay open.

    [eimg link='' title='Backyard Fireworks' url='']

  • Kyrptonite July 1, 2010 04:41 am

    I am excited to try some of these tips on the fourth... thanks for the advice!

  • jovan June 28, 2010 05:56 pm

    i'am planning to get a course a creative photojourn im reacercing an wonderful image like the image of FIREWORKS im thankful to see your beautiful cupture i THANK YOU :)

  • Lu June 19, 2010 02:02 am

    Last yr i read your article on how to shot fireworks with DSLR ! & i got some amazing shots!
    BUT this yr my family wants to go to miller outdoor theatre ( in HOuston TX) & im running into some problems Like this one:

    No audio or visual reproduction of any portion of a presentation at Miller Outdoor Theatre is permitted without the express written consent of the City of Houston. link -

    City Of houston TX -

    4th of july at Miller outdoor theatre -

    How do i get a round this? i want to take my tripod & DSLR BUT im afriad that it will be snapped up & i will not get it backever!
    & im worried that went i will call the city of houston that i will get the run-a-round & then would have to pay some big high fee just to shoot the fireworks? have u ever encountered this & how did u get to shoot the fireworks?? Just wondering if you had any good suggestions or advice for me.

  • Paulo Sacramento May 21, 2010 02:52 am

    Uh! What do you guys thing about this one:
    [eimg link='' title='01/01/2008 - 00:35' url='']

  • Alice Springs Accomodation May 12, 2010 07:02 pm

    In my early days - yes by accident - I did the slow shutter speed and braced against a tree for stability. Didnt work at all... but the results were a fantastic abstract work I couldnt recreate if i tried!

  • Jolyn May 1, 2010 06:31 pm

    Thank you for the Tips, i will try it next time Dubai will performed fireworks.

  • Ayush Modi May 1, 2010 04:26 pm

    I have a canon 500D with 18-55 mm lens. what filters can i use to get better fire work. or do i need to change with lens?

    Please help.

  • Terence April 9, 2010 03:04 am

    Great tips for Fireworks im in the UK, i hope im not wishing Summer away but cant wait for 5th of November
    (Guy Fourks) night to try them out.

  • Dhar April 5, 2010 08:56 pm

    wow really fantastic photos, it's beautiful.

  • David Ansell February 16, 2010 06:14 pm

    Some digital SLR have a multiple shot function. The multiple shots are merged in the camera before a picturer is saved. I have found that setting the exposure to aprox f/8, 1 Sec and taking 5 shots has produced some good results of the sky show in Perth (Australia Day). The pictures were taken in landscape as the barges were located a fair distance a part in the Swan River. I have some images but they are not posted on the web so I can't attach them.

  • Sharon February 6, 2010 07:48 am

    I took some great shots at the Sydney Fireworks. We planned a trip and just happened to be there for New Years eve. 2009. Awesome. I will link when I get them posted!

  • klutzie February 5, 2010 09:34 pm

    Good tips! Totally agree that it's better to use manual focus. It's a good training.

    Just to share
    [eimg url='' title='17358_272815142927_698732927_3301743_3606493_n.jpg']
    4s, f5.6, ISO1600

    [eimg url='' title='17358_272815167927_698732927_3301746_1316643_n.jpg']
    1/12s, f5.6, ISO1600

  • O'Fallon IL Photographer January 31, 2010 05:30 am

    Some great tips here on getting good fireworks shots. This year's fireworks pictures were ok for me, but not amazing. Next year I'm hoping to take pictures of the St Louis fireworks. I didn't get to this fireworks display in time to get the best images or the best location. If you want, you can see a few of mine from this year at my
    Fireworks Blog Post. I'm even thinking of doing something a little crazy next year. I may try to speed up my shutter and get multiple shots, then combine them into an hdr image. Have any of you guys tried that technique?

  • Ricardo Dekker January 12, 2010 04:52 pm

    Hi Darren,

    All of the above information provided worked absolutely well during the fantastic fireworks display at the recent opening of the BURJ KHALIFA TOWER; the world's tallest man made building/structure built in Dubai.

    With your very lucid explanations, life was a lot easier for me when I photographed this magnificient fireworks spectacle at this historical event. And my own ability to take some top class pictures was mainly due to your advise. I'm much more confident now of handling such photo opportunities in the future.

    Best Wishes,
    Ricardo Dekker - Dubai

  • ks =lee January 6, 2010 10:04 pm

    what abt exposure metering? should i use spot or pattern, considering i have some buildings at both sides of the fireworks?

  • Gavin G January 4, 2010 01:09 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Using the advise on my first attempt at this new years eve . I came out out with a few good shots of the fireworks, please check it out :)

  • r0gu3 December 31, 2009 10:43 am

    This will come handy Tonight in sydney 2009

  • Stoffs December 30, 2009 08:39 am

    Thank you for the tips. I will try this at new years eve =)

  • josh December 6, 2009 05:55 am

    thanks for showing and telling the pictures look good

  • austin homes November 20, 2009 07:03 am

    These photos are all amazing and I'm sure the cameras used are very hi def. But I only own a point and shoot right now and it's hard to focus or keep the images stable. These cameras say they have image stability, but I don't think so!

  • Gavin November 8, 2009 05:23 am


    Just read the article about fireworks. One thing I did notice was that there was no mention of which focal length or type of length would be best.

  • Carl Mumford November 7, 2009 08:15 am

    Thanks for this tutorial Darren. I'm enjoying learning a lot from the blog/forum and I will look forward to photographing fireworks this November and December.


  • Jessie November 4, 2009 01:11 pm

    Bookmarked this page, i will be reading this page on new years eve :D

  • Aamod October 18, 2009 04:28 am

    Yeah, today i tried taking pictures of fireworks here in India as its Diwali over here. I live in Mumbai and we have fireworks on our 4 km wide beach front. Well pics i took today , dint come out well , hence i googled for tips on fireworks photography.

    Problem was i dint carry a tripod, due to which few pics came blurred. I used my Canon S5 IS on manual mode. Since i wanted sharper pics , i kept ISO on 100 , but then had to keep low shutter speed and it added to my woes since i dint carry a tripod. And plus it very difficult to keep camera focused on a single location. I had to use buildings as refrence points!!

    Thing is we don't have synchronized fireworks here, everyone burst them individually , so the firework show is spread throughout 4 km beach front due to which one has to keep moving your camera from one end to another and due to which you miss perfect shot

    Another problem, hell lot of smoke is generated , due to which camera is unable to capture rich colors of fireworks.

    I'm going to try taking some pics tomorrow and hope that i get some good shots !!

  • Girish Chandran October 16, 2009 11:01 pm

    Excellent tips. was quite informative. I live in India and tomorrow is Diwali the festival of lights. I bought my new DSLR and so thrilled to capture the most joyous moments tomorrow.

  • Sharon October 16, 2009 03:49 am

    I live in Texas and I am so excited to be going to Sydney, Austrialia to take pictures of firewords over the Opra House on New Years eve. ANY COMMENTS on perfect location to be? I was very successful during my 4th of July shoot. I feel very confident in doing this, but haven't tried it with people in the picture or buildings or water reflections as in some of the photos in the "how to section"..... Thanks!

  • Angus October 14, 2009 08:38 pm

    Cool article.

    The following tips came from my experience when i was taking firework in Hong Kong.

    Some of my works used black card for multi-exposure. This allows more firework to fill up the picture.

    Besides, I guess a RF or double lens reflex camera allows a better composition control. That kind of camera allows you to see how firework forms in your picture, and you can decide when to switch of the shutter.

  • Darrell Cooper October 5, 2009 03:15 am

    It was the World fireworks compatition finale in Blackpool on Friday so I decided to go along and take some pics. Did a quick google and found this great advice so i thought I would post up my results.

    The first problem was finding a location as I was with family so they wanted to be near the action and listen to the music as well. This meant that I was right under some of the carnival type lights that they have in Blackpool at this time of year. It wasn't too much of a problem other than if I wanted to get all the display area in. The second problem was that it was very windy and I was concerned that my tripod would blow over, so much so that I took the strap off the camera. It also meant that the shots may have come out blury.

    Well here are some of the results I hope.

    I am not sure if those links will show the photo's so here is a link to my windows site with the pics on it.

    Hope it works and thanks for the advice.

    Should say that the camera is a Cannon ESI 450D with a Tamron 28-80mm lense with a fisheye wide angle adapter attached. They were all done using the bulb setting and a remote at various different exposure times.


  • queen_irene September 3, 2009 01:45 am

    What are the right words ... super, wonderful idea

  • Sherry Price September 1, 2009 12:59 pm

    I just have to say that the picture in paragraph "3. Framing Your Shot" makes me inhale sharply each time I look at it. It is by definition, breathtaking.

    I also want to thank you for posting this. Canada's "GlobalFest" (pyromusical installations from around the world) was last week. While my photos will never be anywhere near as moving as yours, your tips helped me take some decent pictures.

    So thanks!

  • Redbrickstock August 20, 2009 10:14 am

    Good tip about the low ISO. I guess you then also get more sense of the movement of the fireworks through the sky?

  • D_P August 16, 2009 08:02 am

    Hi, I'm looking to get a digital camera mainly for photographing fireworks. What would you guys suggest I purchase?

  • brenda August 10, 2009 12:54 am

    im going to try your tips out to night fingers crossed hope to get at least one good one

  • Ste_95 July 31, 2009 07:49 am

    Here is my album:

  • Solomon Hoasjoe July 21, 2009 10:25 am

    Thanks for your reply. The place where I shot the last batch of photos was one of the better locations in a public park overlooking the lake due to accessibility issues
    In order to view the pyrotechnics in front of the city skyline I would have to cross over to the Toronto Islands out in the lake. But unfortunately the city public workers are on strike over money so ferry services was limited.

  • dead July 20, 2009 04:27 pm

    awesome! thanks to these tips, i think i came out with a few good shots of the fireworks, please check it out :)

  • Solomon Hoasjoe July 20, 2009 12:41 am

    Take lots: you don't know how high or big bursts will open. With digital camera you can take lots without wasting film.

    Time of event: with landscape usually better earlier for catching blue sky. Don't have a choice the time event organizers put on the show.

    Composition: there may be test bursts before the show. Observe for a few seconds for adjusting the camera position & lens zoom. Can take a test shot with digital camera to see if you need to fine-tune your position.

    Can keep people in as long as they're not blocking the displays. Seeing people aim their digital cameras & phones with the tiny screens lighting up add interest. Photographers for Toronto Star paper often include people's heads like photo-journalism. Further away, you can easily find spots away from the crowd.
    Snapshots are not effective. If you caught a burst just opening you will just see dots.

    Smoke: does appear like clouds as long as it is not blocking the bursts. Usually see it when 1 set of bursts ended and the next appears. You may capture a few blobs or streaks of smoke but won't be too distracting.

    Zoom lens: definitely a plus. New digitals come with zooms of various sizes (18-55, 18-70, 18-105, etc). Magnification depends on the distance from show. My long zoom needed adjusting. Used a shorter zoom with 2x converter (can be carried easily in your pocket for magnification boost). Instead of using ISO 100, increase to 200 - 400 to compensate exposure loss with a 1.4x or 2x converter as long as your camera have high-enough m-pix for fine-grain shots.

    Cropping: pros do it all the time. Mis-aligned horizon can be fixed on computer at home or lab as long as you have room in your shot to crop the edges off. You can crop some of the uninteresting background areas such as dark sky. Pros used to carry prime lenses around and crop later if necessary. You can always experiment on your computer zooming in and moving around to get different perspectives. You can zoom in for small bursts that do not fill the frame to give more impact.

    The horizon: water away from the coast (especially) you need a good horizontal alignment. Shooting along a coastline you need to find buildings or tall structures and align vertically. The coastline may look slanted so if you align horizontally tall buildings will be slanted instead.

    Range-finder cameras: many people use SLRs. The smaller digitals with viewer on top can work better since you don't have the mirror lock-up problem. Otherwise, there is a few seconds you are completely in the dark what is going on in front of the lens.

    MF: even when the show is close, since you're aiming skyward, you can usually set the lens to infinity and leave it for the duration of the show. If you have a bad eye, a lot of SLRs have an AF/MF switch on the side. You let the camera do the AF for the first shot and then switch to MF to fix the setting. Otherwise the camera may try to adjust the focus before your shots and slow your response time.

    Fireworks Pics:

    Personal URL:

  • Gbenga Loveeyes Images July 17, 2009 09:39 pm

    Cool, will try it when next there is one in my area. Only God knows when that will be

  • gemal July 15, 2009 10:53 pm

    Thanks for the advices.
    I’ll use them the next time there are fireworks in my area.
    Greetings from German..

  • mymoen July 15, 2009 10:51 pm

    i'm follow the tutorial and now I find I get the best results when shooting in manual exposure and manual focus modes.

  • Repty July 12, 2009 07:00 pm

    Just thought i'd share a mistake i made while trying to shoot fireworks.
    I had been using M and made the mistake of mazing the ISO and exposure in bid to made the night sky be seen. (this was before the fireworks had started)
    It was only after the event had ended did i realise that due to the fact my ISO and all was too bright, making me unable to use a longer shutter speed and be able to capture the light trails of the fireworks.

    I guess everything comes with experience.

  • jenni July 10, 2009 05:13 pm

    excellent tips!!!Fireworks are spectacular and the photos you take can be almost as breathtaking as the live display. People all over enjoy the fantastic blasts and the sparkling light displays of this post!!!

  • Alen July 8, 2009 11:04 pm

    I have just started with slr photography. This are great.

  • Clayton July 8, 2009 08:58 am

    Hey Gajanan

    Great shots!! Photo #13 in particular. How did you comment on my pics because it was sent back to me via E-mail? Did you comment from Picasaweb, because the pictures were with the e-mail? All of your shots were excellent. Their was maybe two or three, that if somehow you could have gotten more reflection off of the water, would have been super. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sharon July 8, 2009 08:24 am

    Clayton, I used my D300 and my wide angle lens Nikon 18-70mm . I just followed the settings that were discussed in the forum and it worked!

  • Clayton July 8, 2009 07:58 am

    Hey Sharon
    Great shots!! What camera & lens were you using?

  • Jon July 8, 2009 06:21 am

    Check out Santa Cruz fireworks. Let me know what you think please!

  • Clayton July 8, 2009 02:24 am

    View my fireworks display and comments welcome.

  • robin July 7, 2009 10:47 am

    Thanks for the tips I tried them on saturday and the photos came out great, can't wait to print them out.

  • Gail July 7, 2009 06:46 am

    Thanks for the tips! My first attempt at fireworks was much more successful than I expected it to be.

    Check them out at: Let me know what you think!


  • Gajanan July 6, 2009 09:57 pm

    Thank you so much for the practical tips. I read these tips on my phone barely few minutes before the fireworks show and came back completely satisfied. I did shoot in the manual mode. I was not able to use the "bulb" mode much because I ended up exposing too long or too short. I got satisfactory results with exposures between 2" and 4", ISO 200 and an aperture between 8 and 13. I have not seen more practical tips for fireworks photography and these are the first such that I have been able to shoot. From where I was standing, I could not gather much of reflection on the Ohio river. I did miss the horizon in a few shots, but overall they were ok.

    Please do look at I would love to hear on improvement tips.

  • John July 6, 2009 12:27 pm

    I applied the ideas here last night and could not have been happier.
    thanks for the refresher on fireworks photography.
    John in Colorado

  • Shawn July 6, 2009 11:41 am

    SHARON! Your 2nd Pic is Good Enough To Be Used For Invitations and Post Cards! Great Work. I tried my luck as well last night, I did get some interesting ones, but I just don't see them as too good in my own opinion.

  • Sharon July 6, 2009 07:20 am

    Thanks to this article, I got some fantastic firework shots.

    Love this site!

  • Kate July 6, 2009 01:48 am

    Thanks so much for the tips; I got some great photos last night!

  • Keith S. July 6, 2009 12:52 am

    I have photographed fireworks and other long exposure shots, which contain a bright light or array of bright lights,

    I get an artifact, which is a diminished, inverted reflection of the brightest parts of the scene.

    Is that a result of incorrect aperture?

    Thanks for any advice.


  • Sharon July 5, 2009 03:28 am

    Thanks for the article and everyones experience at their successful firework sessions. Can't wait to try this tonight. Have a Nikon D300 and was thinking about using my wide angle lens 18 = 85 or my 18-200 VR. I know how to use the bulb or set the timer to get no shake., and I have my tripod.....I am READY! Austin, Texas Firworks! Which lens would be the best, a wide angle i am assuming?

  • Maria July 5, 2009 12:13 am

    Darren -- Once again, outstanding tips! Can't wait to give them a try tonight at the fireworks show!

  • Treva Haney July 4, 2009 05:10 am

    Answer to bulb on Canon XTi-

    To get to the bulb feature set your cameral to M (manual mode). Turn the the black dial that is just before the shutter release button (this will adjust the shutter speed). Keep turning it down to really low shutter speeds (1 sec, 2 sec, 8 sec, 20 sec, etc) and you will find that the bulb setting is the very last one.

  • Richard July 4, 2009 02:10 am

    On the XTi, just go to manual mode, turn the little wheel all the way up through the exposure speeds and the last one past 30 seconds is "Bulb"

  • sudheer July 3, 2009 11:37 pm

    Nice Useful tips, I tried fireworks photography at the time of new Hindu year celebration ( Gudi Padawa) the location from where I shot was at seven floor Terrace and hence the place from where the firework was done cannot be framed , only fire- work without horizon was shot the pics were O.K. but as the place , the lake which was admist crowded Place has very lass distance along the road .Shots were taken with the help of a tripod and manual focu sing with F5 and 4.5 and hence the DOF was less.. Next time I will definatly use these tips to improve . Pl specify which optics should be used a longer focal length or medium one? I use Nikon D80 and I have 18-200VR and 70-300 G type lense Thanks.

  • LtheSaint July 3, 2009 08:51 pm

    Well Thanks for the tips and tutorial I hope tonight I"ll getting the shot I want and also I think I'll have to learn the HDR technique as well.

  • kumararaja.k July 3, 2009 04:48 pm

    thank you for your advise or fire photograpy tips

  • Pauly July 3, 2009 10:43 am

    Next year you should post this a few days earlier. I would have tried some of this stuff yesterday. (Canada Day) There were fireworks everywhere!

  • mikel July 3, 2009 09:55 am

    Those are very good tips. However may I know specifically the numbers for SHUTTER SPEED? Thanks a lot and more power.

  • Riley Mashburn July 3, 2009 09:24 am

    I have a Canon PowerShot A590 IS and a Canon Rebel K2 (film). I hope i can get something decent out of one of the two...

  • nikkie July 3, 2009 07:08 am

    I'm very eager to try this out on Saturday!! I've always wanted to try photographing fireworks and now I have the right tools to get it right! Thanks!

  • bobbyd July 3, 2009 06:44 am

    The fireworks tips are great, I will put them into use this 4th of july. I'm going to be shooting the new nikon cool pix p90 so I can't wait to see what I come out with. I thank you again for all the great free information,If I want to know something this is the first place I come to..

  • Amanda Bynum July 3, 2009 04:26 am

    I don't know how to do bulb mode on my camera... I just have a Canon Rebel Xti. Anyone know? Thanks!!

  • Shaun July 3, 2009 03:54 am

    I found a very good tip for keeping your camera stable is to use a screw that fits your mount at the bottom of the camera and tie a string to the screw then cut the sting to about your eye level. Tie the other end to a nut or large washer then just drop the nut on the ground then put one foot on it and pull it upward until it is tight. That will keep the camera steady without lugging around your tripod.

  • Greg Lawrence July 3, 2009 03:15 am

    The subject of capturing images of fireworks was well presented; however, static shots of fireworks are just that...fireworks. I read through the comments and very few if any suggest experimenting. For those of you who have captured a number of good fireworks images in the past and are looking for a little variety, i would suggest my more experimental approach to broaden your collection of fireworks photography.

    My technique is to slouch in a comfortable portable canvas camping chair, the type with arms upon which to rest my elbows and a high enough back on which to rest the head. All shots are handheld allowing the camera to be quickly moved using the viewfinder to track the fireworks shell when fired from the mortar. Granted this takes a little practice and use of the Starwar's "force". The sound the mortar makes is a good indication of the height at which the incendiary will burst. Typically incendiary displays are grouped, so sighting in on the first burst and starting the exposure when that burst is occurring usually means that additional bursts will be captured in the field of view.

    Camera - Rebel XT with settings: ISO 200, f 6.3, 28mm (28-135mm 3.5/5.6 Canon zoom). Prefocus on an infinity object and set the DSLR lens to manual focus. Tape the focus ring to avoid changing the focus. The only variable is shutter speed which, for the sake of variation and experimentation, is from 0.5 to 3.2 seconds with the 1 to 2.5 second range appearing to be optimal. f 6.3 unfortunately allows the highlights to burnout on some of the incendiaries, but does help capture the lower intensity light as the incendiaries decay, smoke and silhouettes which add impact to many of the images. Use the manual setting for exposure/f-stop on your DSLR. Usually any camera movement and wind make the captured images more interesting. The firework venue that I like to photograph allows the crowd to be quite close to the display, hence the 28mm lens selection (about 45 mm for full frame DSLR). I posted the majority of images captured from the 2008 event on my website. All images are uncropped to show the variety and level of success achieved. Run the slideshow and enjoy!

    Images from the 2007 event where I did the original experimentation are included in this section of my website:

    Relatively few images were captured in 2007 since I spent time checking the LCD monitor for the results of each shot in order to make adjustments in camera settings and my hand-held technique.

    For those of you who are taking photographs of fireworks for the first time, I suggest following the recommendations of the article in order to be successful; however, for those looking for a more creative result, give my technique a try.

  • Benjamin July 3, 2009 02:59 am

    Haha, good thing I found this after attepting to photograph the Canada day fireworks YESTERDAY. Oh well, there's always next year.

  • Paul S July 2, 2009 05:21 am

    If you are using a point-and-shoot (P&S) and don't have a manual focus option, I've had success in the past doing this:

    1) Set camera to Manual and apply settings recommend above
    2) If you don't have a "Manual" setting, select Aperture Priority, and pick the smallest aperture (biggest number - f11, f16, etc)
    3) Focus on an object or light fixture that is about the same distance as you are from the fireworks, depress the shutter button half-way to get focus
    4) Point camera in the direction of the action and shoot
    5) Return to step 3 and repeat for each photo

    If you don't have an "Aperture Priority" mode, you've probably got a "fireworks" or "night-time" option somewhere that should suffice.

  • Jan Foselli July 2, 2009 03:55 am

    Great article! I shared it on my blog - hope you don't mind!

  • Tomblerone July 1, 2009 08:54 pm

    I just took a very cheat tripod (like 10$), placed my camera on manual mode, and took a lot of photo's.
    Got this:
    pretty nice I think

  • Gavin G July 1, 2009 11:01 am

    Nice, like the photos here. I look forward trying some of these tips during the upcoming celebration of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's 63rd birthday on July 15.

  • MeiTeng July 1, 2009 10:20 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I have never tried photographing fireworks display.

  • Elizabeth Richardson July 1, 2009 10:11 am

    Thank you for such a comprehensive post...and for the useful suggestions from the comments section as well. High quality material - very much appreciated!

  • Lisa July 1, 2009 07:36 am

    thankyou for being so specific about iso, aperture and shutterspeed. Alot of times i read articules simialar to this one looking for the specifics and really never get that. I love that! Exicited to shoot some 4th of july stuff!!
    Thanks again!

  • CharlieJ July 1, 2009 06:35 am

    One thing I can tell you -- do NOT use a tripod if you are near the actual fireworks display. Tripods don't absorb vibrations well -- and can show camera shake. Get one of those spongy bead pillows (like the ones for your neck). They make EXCELLENT cushions for holding cameras -- without being very susceptible to the "sonic" boom of fireworks. I learned that trick from experimentation.

    As the article says, shoot as many pictures as you can -- don't delete ANY of them in the camera. Review them on your computer monitor first.

    Go manual as much as possible. I tend to shoot bulb or 2-3 second exposures with an aperture around f11.

    Manually focused camera with a low ISO (80-100).

    Don't use any camera editing -- like sharpening, color enhancement as these tend to increase "grain" in dark sky shots such as fireworks.

    Enjoy the show... and the ooh's and ah's of the crowd.

  • Marcus July 1, 2009 03:35 am

    I use the autofocus to zero in on the first firework, then throw the lens in manual focus and leave it there for the rest of the show. I use a remote shutter to "feel" the shutter speeds. The entire show I'm flicking that shutter open and closed in different intervals. This way I'm watching the show, not my camera.

    This was my first attempt at shooting a fireworks show:

    This was my second:

  • jayel2k June 30, 2009 08:58 pm

    I can't wait to try this out on the 4th! I have a Nikon D60, and I'm going to try it on the neighborhood fireworks that inevitably get shot off before, during and after the 4th. I had a film camera last year, but the film did not load properly and I got bupkis!

    This year will be different... i'll post the results for all to see.

    Thanks for the great article!!

  • Matt B. June 29, 2009 02:23 pm

    just took some photos tonite at our mall's "Fourth of July" fireworks display and they turned out pretty good. Used the tips from this site and tried my best. This is my first time photographing fireworks so I was pretty much just guessing the whole time. Used f8 and just timed my shots to get a few bursts in the shot. The only problem I had was the finale. Are there any tips for getting shots at that point? I tried just exposing for 1/2 a second at f8 but wasnt sure if i should change my f stop or not and some of those shots were over exposed because they shot like 5 white fireworks at once.

  • Frank Ferris June 29, 2009 12:30 pm

    Thanks for the info. I used it this weekend in Illinois USA. I used a Nikon D2H with a 24-70 2.8 set at F16 Bulb. When I herd the mortor I held down the Shutter until the light went out. Got some good shots.
    Thanks, Frank

  • BIJU June 27, 2009 06:44 am

    Thanks for the great tips!

    I am in Indianapolis and waiting for the night of July 4

  • Steve Kim June 11, 2009 08:09 am

    I shoot all my videos and pictures for the marketing department of my company and believe me it's all about timing distance and angles. typically you can't be the guy holding the igniter if you're taking the shot. lol another good tip.

  • Tv Tarka March 10, 2009 04:57 pm

    I always thought that it was rocket science but now its on my finger tips.Thanx to these tips,

  • JAG January 27, 2009 02:31 am

    Excellent tips. I read this two days before Chinese New Year in Malaysia. Never managed to get many decent shots of fireworks before, this time even with an improvised tripod (aka roof of a car), umbrella and buckets of rain I managed to get some respectable shots.

    Only found this site a week ago, but the quality of the articles speaks volumes.

    Gong Xi Fa Chai

  • Andy January 19, 2009 05:10 pm

    san francisco sucks for fireworks photography...fog year round

  • Rui Alves January 1, 2009 02:14 am

    Hi all,

    In fact this is a great topic.
    As everything in life, nothing is absolutely right nor wrong.
    In some cases, and this can vary depending on the shutting restrictions, other configuration settings can be used,
    leading also to satisfactory results.

    As I present here (
    having no chance to mount a tripod, is quite challenging,
    so you must reset all your configuration :)

    In all photos, on this link, my equipment settings were these ones: EOS 400D & Canon 18-55. Shooting Mode: Tv. Shutter speed: 1/60, 1/50 and 1/40. ISO: 1600. WB: Auto. Compensation: +1 step.
    Handheld in all these shots.

    I hope you enjoy it!
    Happy new Year!
    Be happy... and make others happy too :)

  • Kev December 31, 2008 03:27 am

    Hi everyone,
    This article is great! Gives lots of information. I am planning to take fireworks display later near my house. It will be my first time shooting fireworks. I don't know if i should use flash or not. Also, which program is better to use when shooting it ?
    hope any of you can give tips on these.

  • zulfadhli December 29, 2008 01:12 pm

    In Malaysia, we have an annual fireworks competition which is participated by contestant from all over the world. I went there for two times now and waiting for the next year (2009) competition. It is the best fireworks event in Malaysia.

  • Stephen December 25, 2008 01:13 am

    A good set of tips, I can only hope that some fireworks are being arranged for new years :)

  • SEO Training September 4, 2008 03:15 pm

    I wish I'd read this post a week ago. We had Riverfire in Brisbane last weekend with fireworks and an F111 jet.

    The F111 flew low along the river then pulled up and ignited afterburners. It was awesome.

  • Arindam Das September 4, 2008 02:46 pm

    I followed the steps mentioned in this How-to and greatly benefitted. You can visit my fire work pictures here:

  • pavan August 5, 2008 07:35 am

    Its really superb...
    I am gonna try this out on Diwali...

  • Garen Arnold July 20, 2008 12:49 pm

    This is an OUTSTANDING post!!!!!!

  • Brisbane SEO Consultant July 12, 2008 11:18 pm

    Outstanding post ! As well as photographing the fireworks it's also a good idea to photograph the peoples' reaction to the fireworks ... especially children.

    Thanks once again.

  • Mark July 7, 2008 11:25 am

    Great tips. I should have researched before the 4th. Always next year!

  • Roxy July 6, 2008 02:42 am

    Thanks for all the great tips! My photos turned out a lot crisper than usual.

  • CmoodZ July 6, 2008 02:05 am

    I just wanted to say Thank you for this post. I followed your directions and was able to capture great pictures of the firework show last night. I am so very pleased. I set up my camera and did not have to change a thing when the show started. It was very exciting. SO thank you.

  • Laura McPhail July 6, 2008 02:00 am

    I used these techniques last night to photograph the 4th of July fireworks display, and they worked great. I just started learning how to use my DSLR (Olympus E-410), so I'm just a baby when it comes photography . . . this was my first time to use the camera not in Automatic mode! Still, I feel that some of my pictures turned out really well. Thanks for the great tips, I can't wait to try more out!

  • Dani S. Sico July 5, 2008 11:16 am

    I,m from the Philippines. I'm a Nikon user. I agree that using a tripod during fireworks display gives excellent results. Sometimes we happened that tripods are not with us and the alternative is to shoot the event in the handheld position and i've tried this many times and it gives creative and artistic results especially when using the panning and zooming technique when the slow shutter speed still works in time of your exposure. Try it. Sometimes camera shakes makes appreciative results.

  • Melissa A. Olsen July 5, 2008 07:51 am

    Happy 4th everyone.
    Well I was all excited to try these settings, however I have yet to find a good reference book for the Canon 1Ds Mark III, which is almost about to put me in the nut house. Trying to figure this camera out from the manual only is killing me. LOL
    Anyone have ideas for me at this late date relative to settings and so forth?

  • Lora July 5, 2008 07:40 am

    I have a sony cybershot dsc-H5 and want to take good firework pictures but am camera dumb and I basically just use auto adjust setting. Does anyone know what setting it should be on for fireworks?

  • frivologs July 5, 2008 07:35 am

    Timely. Thank you.
    I am sure this July 4, like my every other July 4 before, I will be so into enjoying the fireworks that I will forget about photographing them.

  • Sherman July 5, 2008 06:56 am

    I'll use my digital camera and a tripod to take pictures of the fireworks and the folks.

  • Doug July 5, 2008 05:49 am

    Happy 4th everyone. Cant wait to experiment with these new techniques. To see some of my shots, please check out

  • Peach July 5, 2008 04:54 am

    I am so excited to try these tips tonight. More than the food and the party, shooting the fireworks is what's getting me all fired up. Thanks to Darren and everyone who have been patient enough to share!

    It'll be my first time to shoot in Manual mode so wish me luck =)

  • Steve July 5, 2008 04:35 am

    Responding to the White Balance Question. His is tricky because there is no real white to speak off. The best thing to do is to shoot raw if you can, and set white balance in post.

    If that is not an option for you, and I understand you may not have the software to work with RAW, you should use a lower temperature to capture the color more completely. However, the reds show up nicely and a higher temperature.

  • rahmad July 4, 2008 07:39 pm

    thanks for a tips, its very helpful for me

  • Digital Texan July 4, 2008 09:33 am

    You tips for fireworks shooting are wonderful!

    I can't wait for darkness to fall on the 4th...

    Keep up the great work, you ROCK!

  • Byron July 4, 2008 07:39 am

    Thanks for the helpful article on photographing fireworks. I'll be trying some of these tomorrow on the 4th.

    Here are some good places to see fireworks:

  • Steve Salt July 4, 2008 05:58 am

    I started a thread based on my results from reading this article. feel free to critique and add some of your own. A lot of my shots were experimental (for me) based on the article and wanting to try something new...

  • Kevin July 4, 2008 01:34 am

    I followed these 10 steps using a Nikon D300 and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens and couldn't be happier. We were quite close to the show and had to protect ourselves and our equipment from falling debris.

  • Rick July 2, 2008 11:14 pm

    I am a licienced pyrotechnition and a I also camera nut. I technique that produces some neat shots is catching the opening salvo on time laps. Most pyrotechs launch one single shell roughly two to three minutes before the show everyone the heads up to grab their seat.. watch for the glow of the flare..(it's about to start) keep your frame wide enough to to catch the first shot...(the attention getter) this will let you know what part of the sky (most) will be exploding in. Definately use a tripod.. this will keep you lens trained on the desired spot ( after you locate it) then set you camera up for a 15 sec. shutter and snap as soon as the second shell goes up.. you should get about 20 couple shells in one frame.. sometimes it's a mess ..sometimes it is spectacular.. good luck

  • Rakadewa July 2, 2008 12:51 am

    can it create by pocket digital photo?

  • ice July 1, 2008 04:43 pm

    Spot on article, I was talking to someone this morning and we were wondering what would be the way to approach fireworks photography, thanks a lot for the hints :)

  • Pete Langlois July 1, 2008 01:34 pm

    Here are some shots from last years Hillsborough, NH Hot Air Balloon Festival

    This year's Rock 101 WGIR FM Sky Show in Manchester NH

    And a few from last year's sky show

  • Evan Rowe July 1, 2008 09:12 am

    This article helped me get some fantastic shots last year on the 4th, glad to see it was circulated up to the front page again for '08. It's a nice refresher and should help me get some great stuff this go 'round. Cheers!

  • Motownmadmann June 25, 2008 08:59 am

    Please take a look at this link
    and let me know what you think of the photos i took of a recent fireworks display

  • Theresa June 25, 2008 07:59 am

    Thank you so much for the great tips! After many frustrating attempts, I finally was successful in capturing some fireworks!

  • Fort Myers Photographer May 31, 2008 10:54 pm

    I know this is an old post, but with the 4th just around the corner again, people should revisit this. The tips added from DPS Readers are helpful too. Especially checking the direction of the wind!

  • Jill April 17, 2008 12:10 pm

    Thought I'd share a few of my favorite fireworks shots from the past year:

  • Saim Baig April 17, 2008 07:00 am

    To me most important thing would be to select the place from where the picture is to be taken.After that we can try your tips.

  • Fanatic April 17, 2008 06:58 am

    I have done firework photography many times.But most of the time its a failure.I hope this will not happen as i will try the above.Thanks

  • sandy March 4, 2008 12:31 am

    i have learnt a lot about photographing a firework and wish to give a try thank you very much and well done.

  • LOUIE R. February 16, 2008 07:18 am

    THIS MAY BE a little off the subject...
    I've been trying to capture falling stars on my camcorder.
    Only the brightest of the brightest show up.
    Changed settings across the board with varied results.
    Is there any lenses etc. that may help. Could there be a camcorder that is better for this purpose maybe. 1st time here and I've learned a few things that might work.

  • Bulusu January 27, 2008 08:06 am

    I live in Dubai and currently we are having Dubai Shopping Festival. I am getting good opprtunity to take good photos especially FIREWORKS.

    Thanks for the Goods TIPS.

  • iman January 24, 2008 02:09 am

    I make some good pictures on this NY using these tips :)
    Thanks for your article!

  • hilly January 14, 2008 11:39 pm

    everytime i turn on my cxamera it ejects the battery what do i do?
    i need soon tips!!

  • Sean Henri December 31, 2007 03:03 am

    Figured this out through experimentation, and unfortunately I didn't have a tripod but used a stone wall instead. Here's how it came out:

    Great tips though!

  • Tim December 23, 2007 06:47 pm

    Dont get too caught up in the settings people. Just give it a go and follow your photographic instinct. It really is alot easier than you think.

  • Vlad December 17, 2007 09:38 pm

    Great little article - and I'm glad one of my photos has been selected :) The main thing for me has been scouting out a location in Sydney. Fireworks for NYE are very popular so you gotta plan and get there early :)

  • CheGordito November 7, 2007 08:11 am

    I'm sorry to be so picky, but I'm a little disappointed in your glossing over shutter speeds in the article - trying different bulb speeds will probably work, but it's a bit hit and miss. Perhaps you could provide some examples linking brightness at the peak of the firework and the shutter speed+F-stop.

  • Billy Hicks November 6, 2007 12:00 pm

    Thanks for this, fantastic article! We just had Guy Fawkes Night in the UK and I brought my camera, which is just an inexpensive HP point-and-shoot, but I was really impressed with how they came out!

  • Hueyatl October 13, 2007 12:25 am

    After looking at hundreds, if not thousands, fireworks photos I felt that f/16 allows for the best exposure for color in fireworks. Using f/16 along with ISO 100 allows the shutter to be kept open as long as needed. So, the shutter is simply set to Bulb and left open till the frame is assumed filled with bursts. This was my first time photographing fireworks and I could not be happier.

  • Charles Clarke August 21, 2007 07:36 am

    I know this is a bit late but here are my pictures for Canada's presentation at HSBC Celebration of Light Vancouver

  • Jenny August 20, 2007 12:03 pm

    I can't afford a camera or a lens that would do that. :(

  • Menno August 11, 2007 08:53 am

    Well, I gave it a try at the beach of The Hague (Netherlands) this evening.
    Here are the results of my first attempt:

  • Andrew Ferguson August 2, 2007 08:38 am

    @Abe: I suspect you're in Vancouver, then? I'll keep an eye out for you at English Bay! :P

  • Abe Lewis August 2, 2007 02:41 am

    Going to be shooting my very first fireworks tonight with my new Digital SLR Nikon DX40 and im a bit confused still hahaha.

    Has anyone own a Nikon and if so if you have shot fireworks do you remember what you put your settings at ;0


  • Charles Clarke July 27, 2007 02:38 am

    Check out HSBC Celebration of Light 2007 - Spain

  • Caryl July 24, 2007 11:07 am

    What great photos and useful tips. How about then adding a commentary and turning a series of still shots into a movie with your own voice talking about them?
    Check out how on

  • Empower July 7, 2007 02:36 pm

    Something fun to play with using an open shutter is a fill flash on an image in the foreground (a flag for instance). Manually fire your strobe while the shutter is open and adjust the power to properly expose the object while still maintaining fireworks exposure.

  • jason July 6, 2007 11:56 am


    are you referring to WHERE you put photos, cause if thats what im hearing you host them somewhere

    and provide a link, im sure you did great

    cant wait to see the photos


  • fogsister July 6, 2007 11:02 am

    As a first timer to shoot the city's fireworks at the lake, I reread your tips several times, since I'm the weakest link in our little photography group. I want to post a couple and get comments, how/where is the post for this Fourth fireworks to show them?
    Thanks for all the info., my only advice after doing the do, is easy on the bulb.

  • Grant July 6, 2007 10:01 am

    Great tips! Check out my fireworks set...

  • Lucy July 6, 2007 03:02 am

    Wish I found this article earlier!

    Great sample shots included with the article.

  • Katie July 6, 2007 03:00 am

    Thanks for the AWESOME tips! I had a great time shooting the local fireworks last night, and had an amazingly large group of "keepers" when I was done.

    Here's my set (all but the last two are from last night):

    THANK YOU!! :-)

  • Greg July 5, 2007 11:01 pm

    Well, I went out and did it...I shot our local fireworks display after reading this page and the Author was right, I was rewarded with better success than I anticipated. Thank you for the tips (I came across the link on the Yahoo! home page). I will definately return here for mor study.

    Click link for results ~

  • Darren July 5, 2007 10:57 pm

    great work ktpupp - there are some nice fireworks shots there. Glad the tips were helpful.

  • ktpupp July 5, 2007 10:46 pm

    Thanks for this informative article! I used your tips and got the best fireworks shots I've ever taken!

    I've always gone the wrong direction and thought I needed ISO 1600 and a wide open aperature because it's dark outside. Needless to say, going the other direction definitely works better!


  • Beth July 5, 2007 02:41 pm

    @Jason: *laughs* The same thing almost happened here, they canceled the pro fireworks because of threat of rain and lightning - but everyone in my neighborhood was setting off GOBS of home fireworks, so I think I got some good shots anyway. I'm downloading now - hope to post tomorrow!

    Darren, thank you SO MUCH for this post! I had wonderful fun with this!

  • Mike July 5, 2007 01:17 pm

    I'm very new to my XTi so tonight was practice for me shooting some neighbors fireworks.

    I missed every one of them because I couldn't figure out Manual Mode. I had everything set up..bulb mode, f11, iso 100...It would NOT take a picture.
    After all the works ended. I realized that there's a switch on my lens to switch it from auto-focus to Manual. Flipped that over and started taking shots.

  • jason July 5, 2007 11:43 am

    well everyone

    the shots were set to go

    the tripod was setup and weighed down

    a nice manual exposure setup and upwind


    It poured down rain, i think i got some good shots though im embarrased t oshow them as some enevitably have water spots on them :(

    all the news guys were running for cover, i kept shooting with my wet weather shell lol

    ill maybe post a link if its not TOO BAD

    hope everyone had a great fourth


  • Tim July 5, 2007 09:25 am

    I can't wait for the fireworks display here in New York tonight also! These fireworks tips are great and will help my photography. I'll post my photographs in the forums.

  • Belinda July 5, 2007 09:23 am

    I am going to try this tonight at the New York Fireworks display. Just have to decide where to shoot from - I like the Macys fireworks.

  • Andrew Ferguson July 5, 2007 09:08 am

    @Elrey: I'd avoid auto. It'll be resetting each shot, so objects in the foreground will be different colours in each shot.

    Personally I'd go with daylight (strange as it sounds) or tungsten. If you're shooting in RAW, you don't need to worry about it though. Just leave it on whatever and do the white balancing in your RAW processing software later.

    @CGH: It's really up to you. Not using fireworks mode gives you more manual control over each shot. I'd say not using it will result in better photos, but it'll require more work and a better understanding of how it all works.

  • Brooks July 5, 2007 08:53 am

    Thanks for the Tips
    Cant Wait for Tonight =]

  • Omar July 5, 2007 08:19 am

    I'm going to definitely try these tips tonight here in Palmdale, CA..looking forward to taking some good shots.

  • DeeJay July 5, 2007 08:04 am

    Thanks for the advices.
    I'll use them the next time there are fireworks in my area.
    Greetings from Macedonia!

  • CGH July 5, 2007 07:44 am

    I have a Canon digital camera that have a "fireworks" mode. Is that better to use this function or to use an ISO100 exposure?

  • TS July 5, 2007 07:26 am

    @frank: Do not try to follow the fireworks as they go up. Keep the camera still, pointed at the spot where most of the fireworks are exploding. Keep the shutter open until you get some good bursts then close it. Aperture between f/8 and f/16 is best, as noted in the article. If you're far enough away from the fireworks, you can put the camera on manual focus and set the focus to infinity so you don't have to worry about that.

    @Michael: Were there bright streetlights nearby (to your side or even behind you)? Solution to that is to use a lens hood. You may have also overexposed lights that you might not have considered important. Keep the shutter open long enough to catch some good bursts but not so long that every other light in the picture is burnt out.

  • Carole July 5, 2007 07:23 am

    you did great, thanks for the wonderful tips! i really love to capture fireworks moment!

  • Nancy July 5, 2007 06:56 am

    Thank you, your advise has been very helpfull.

  • Pixture Chick July 5, 2007 06:12 am

    That was really helpful to me! I'm just starting out and fireworks have always intimidated me...thanks for the tips!

  • Elrey July 5, 2007 04:34 am

    Haven't seen any advice about where to set the WHITE BALANCE: auto, daylight, tungsten? I'll be photographing my first fireworks tonight with a Canon 20D. Thanks to all for the helpful tips.

  • jason July 5, 2007 02:16 am

    hi everyone

    its amazing the great stuff we learn on the web

    well thanks for the tips i am an AP photographer who has dabbled over the years with Digital and 35mm cameras.

    I just recently upgraded to my best camera , the kodak Z612 (yahhh i know not the BEST camera) but it takes some amazing shots (see this one at this link

    i was thoroughly impressed with this, i am using pentak ??? lens and aside from the slight blur on the outside edges (not sure why)anyways i digress

    i love this camera and its got some killer MANUAL settings, although im still scratching my head on some i find that with that shutter open long i get some neat shots, heres my question

    I have F.# which i know is aperture
    I have shutter speed (as this goes up (longer) it changes the exposure level automaticly

    so lets say i shoot a night scape with NO FIREWORK (like this one at

    and the exposure and shutter is going to change dramaticlly once the firework bursts in the sky right (as the light changes) ok so i can set it at a MAX of 16.0 seconds, which i guess is good, im going to a mountaintop early tonight where a special area is setup for media only

    i will shoot the city lights with the fireworks overhead

    one thing i always shake my head at, lets say the shutter is open for mmm 8 seconds, wouldnt all that light be a blur, i have shot traffic at night and its a wild blur because of movement,

    like this shot

    also i shot the shots you see at the links with iso 80 is htat too low

    thanks for all the help (and yes i will ahve my tripod :)


  • Karen July 4, 2007 11:07 pm

    I don't understand covering up the lens with a black card in between the fireworks. How does that work? Thanks!

  • Coachawi July 4, 2007 07:40 pm

    Hi, Thanks for the information. Boston's 4th has about 500,000 people and over 10,000 fireworks Thanks for your help!

  • Michael July 4, 2007 04:30 pm

    I just took some fireworks photos for the first time. NikonD50, ISO200, 4 Seconds.....found a lot with some type of reflection or glare on parts of the image, what did I do wrong?

  • Ken July 4, 2007 12:22 pm

    I learn so much from this website. Too much to remember in fact. Thanks for 4th July tips.

  • frank ingram July 4, 2007 11:46 am

    do u just set camera at place where last firework exploded or do u follow it up as it shoots into sky?i set it in 1 place and didnt get 1 full explosion just partials. and to say its easy i think thats unfair . u were prob very lucky first time u took pics or had lots of expiernce.i havent found it very easy .u never mention any thing about how close or far away u must be also . i was too close and didnt have time to pack up stuff and move back away from works. bit i do appreciate all the hints u gave it helped a lot

  • Anthony July 4, 2007 04:19 am

    Have not yet read all. Will study all and try tomorrow night JULY 4th. THANK YOU for the tips

  • Clyde / Olde Towne Photos July 3, 2007 03:05 pm

    What effect, if any, will leaving the viewfinder open have on a timed exposure? Will any light be able to enter?

  • Trevor Batstone July 2, 2007 09:33 am

    I am planning on being in North Vancouver tonight to photograph the Canada Day fireworks in Vancouver, This way I will (hopefully) get good shots of the Vancouver skyline in my fireworks shots. Will be using my Pentax DSLR, sturdy Slik tripod, remote release cable, and my Tamron 18-200 zoom lens, but will also have my Sigma 135-400 just in case I want to use that. Bulb mode and a remote release are essentials for good fireworks photography. Also, by shooting from North Vancouver, I don't have to pay the ridiculous ticket price to watch the fireworks from Canada Place.

  • JMS July 2, 2007 05:03 am

    Re: using non-zoom lens - of course it's possible! Your options for framing your shots will be somewhat less, with no zoom capability, but that won't stop you from getting good pictures of fireworks. If i were you I'd try to go early and find a location from which your non-zoom lens will cover the area you want to capture.

  • MLTJ July 1, 2007 08:38 pm

    I'm a new guy to this site and a beginner but I like the tips given. One question...the above article speak of using a zoom lens, is it possible to use a non-zoom wide angle lens to take the fireworks display? Thanks for the info.

  • Edinburgh Designer July 1, 2007 09:14 am

    Some nice photos there, I look forward to trying some of these tips out in the Edinburgh festival fireworks.

  • Nav June 30, 2007 04:04 am

    thanks for the tips.. looking forward to this independence day to take some good shots!!

  • Puplet June 29, 2007 10:43 pm

    Use a longer shutter speed than you need, and cover your lens with a piece of black card when there aren't any fireworks in the air. That way, you get LOADS of fireworks in one picture - woo hoo!

  • SJDK June 29, 2007 10:00 pm

    Another idea for shooting in bulb mode or with long exposures is to use a piece of black paper (or something similar) and hold it in front of the lens if nothing is happening. I think this however requires quite a dark location and it is of course key to not touch the camera as this would blur the picture due to movement.

    Cheers. SJDK

  • kishore June 29, 2007 09:30 pm

    I did take some snaps of fireworks with slow shutter and tripod. I use timeout mode instead of remote capture. Both of them reduce the camera shake during click.
    one thing i would like to add is rather than going for shutter or aperture priority mode, manual is better as you can control the exposure also. some firework photographs are good when they are either underexposed or overexposed a little.
    I hold a 350D and i didn't try taking fireworks with p&s.

  • Andrew Ferguson June 29, 2007 08:34 am


    No worries :)

  • JT June 29, 2007 08:27 am

    Ahh there it is. Thanks for your help.

  • Andrew Ferguson June 29, 2007 08:08 am


    'Bulb mode' refers to the shutter speed. In bulb mode, the shutter stays open until you let go of the button.

    Simple put yourself in a mode where you can control your shutter speed like Shutter Priority, Program, or Manual.

    Adjust your shutter speed to longer and longer times. One notch past '30"' should be 'BULB'.

    That's the one you want :)

  • JT June 29, 2007 05:48 am

    I just got a DSLR, whats "‘bulb’ mode" on a digital rebel xti?

  • shroticg June 29, 2007 05:33 am

    I HAVE TRIED LESS in this field. after going thro the above guidelines and tips i shall venture and expect to have nice results. thanks.

  • sinergy June 29, 2007 02:04 am

    Ah, nice timing - and good tips! Canada day is just around the corner :)

  • Raj June 28, 2007 11:54 pm

    I got some really good pictures last year using these tips. Look forward to trying the same this year [if the fireworks are not canceled due to rains, here in Dallas].

  • John Pozadzides June 28, 2007 11:19 pm

    That was a great post. I'll be looking forward to using some of these tips this year. Thanks.

  • come2haveFun June 28, 2007 09:10 pm

    Wonderful Tips. Thank You !

  • Andrew Ferguson June 28, 2007 05:13 pm


    I did check your site, those are good photos. The second one, where everything seems tinted light bluish-grey, is my favourite.

    Where were you shooting from? It looks like it could be either Stanley Park-ish facing Kits or the other way around.

    I haven't done fireworks with film or digital, so I'm afraid I can't offer any advice there :/

  • Simo June 28, 2007 03:38 pm

    One additional tip: Look at the photos on this page. I believe that they are not randomly selected, but they are here because they are good fireworks shots. What's common in them? Yes, almost all of them include spectators/surroundings. Follow that example.

  • Charles Clarke June 28, 2007 03:28 pm

    I shot the "HSBC Celebration of Light" in Vancouver last year with Nikon F5 & velvia provia 100. Check my site.

    I now have a Nikon D200.

    Is there a differance in doing firework photography with a digital DLSR?

  • Andrew Ferguson June 28, 2007 12:53 pm

    @Mick: While that seems like the best idea, sometimes it's not. For one thing, I've seen some really creative fireworks photography that only happened because the photographer couldn't get a decent view. If they had, their photos would've looked the same as everyone elses.

    This next trick doesn't work everywhere, but if you're watching the fireworks at a beach at dusk, it can. It has for me for two years running now.

    Show up about thirty minutes before the fireworks are set to start and slowly, politely navigate our way through all the beach blankets all the way down to the water.

    The people at the front got here to set up hours ago... when the tide was higher. Now it's much lower and there's a good ten feet of clear dry sand in front of them. Set up and voila, no bobbing heads in your fireworks photos.

    The past two years I've just been watching the fireworks. This year I'm taking my camera :)

  • Darren June 28, 2007 12:28 pm

    Jennifer - I think most of the above will apply for point and shoot cameras when photographing fireworks. You might not have access to the aperture and shutter speed settings (although many p and s cameras now do) but the main thing will be to make your camera still and switch the flash off.

  • Mick June 28, 2007 11:36 am

    most important thing - survey the location, find the spot and be there early to reserve it.

  • Darren June 28, 2007 10:24 am

    don't forget to post your photos over in the forum!

  • Jennifer June 28, 2007 10:07 am

    Anyone have any good point-and-shoot specific tips?

  • HaliKat June 28, 2007 09:53 am

    Looking forward to Canada Day this weekend. Thanks for the excellent tips!

  • AC June 28, 2007 09:16 am

    I'm just waiting to try this out on Independence Day!

  • Andrew Ferguson June 28, 2007 09:09 am

    I live in Vancouver and we've got the yearly international Festival of Lights (formerly Symphony of Fire) coming up.

    I'm really looking forward to taking some photos this year :)

    Who knows, maybe I'll see some other DPS readers there!