Quick Tips : How to Photograph Fireworks

How to Capture Fireworks with Style (using DSLR ,  Point & Shoot or iPhone/Android)

How to Photography Fireworks
How to Photograph Fireworks

Are you ready for 4th of July Celebrations? I am sure most of you have watching “Fireworks ” at the very top of your to do list. Since we all carry cameras with  us all the time , I hope following tips will help you to document the stunning memories you had with your loved ones on  Independence day.  

Basic Tips: For All Cameras

1. Location

You know how busy the independence day can be. So don’t wait till the Last Moment. SCOUT early and find a nice place for you and your family. An ideal choice would be a high ground with an unobstructed view of the sky so you can capture all the excitement. Try to find a view with a Lake/ Pond/ Ocean so you get a chance to get interesting reflections. Alternatively a famous Landmark can make your photos go viral.

2. Camera Stabilization

I am pretty sure that all of us experienced taking grainy blurry pictures when we try to take pictures during night / Low light conditions. When there is not enough light camera needs to keep the shutter open for a long period so it can absorb more light. So even a tiny shake can make your pictures blurry. Alternatively camera can take low pictures when the ISO settings are high like good old ISO 400+ films. But it comes with a price simply ” higher the ISO more grains you get”. Best way to cope this problem is to go for some kind of stabilization. It can be a Tripod , DIY Beanbag or a Steady Hand:) . Ready, Steady!

 3. Switch off Flash

REMEMBER you are using the available light to illuminate your scene. So no point keeping your flash on Unless you are trying to use off camera flash (DSLR mostly) to add drama by lighting foreground objects (person/s or an object).

 4. Focus

Basically we want everything in focus. Therefore, set the focus to Infinity  ∞ (DSLR, Point & Shoot) or focus an object at distance before taking fireworks (phone camera).

5. Shoot RAW (DSLR) / Highest Quality JPEG (P&S or Phone Camera)

Since, Noise (Grains and Fringe) is an inherent limitation of Low Light Photography we have to go for the format that contains the highest amount of detail. RAW is the best format but if you don’t have the option to use RAW go for highest quality JPEGs.

DSLR & Mirrorless Tips for Photographing Fireworks 

6. Camera

Pretty obvious,  Right! Although we say “It’s Not The Camera, It’s The Photographer” sometimes gadgets matter. Unlike, human eye digital cameras have their own limitations. Usually, high end cameras have better performances than the cheaper ones. My advice is to “Know the limitations of your camera and try to use it to the maximum potential” .

Scroll down to see my recommendations for Camera, Lens and Accessories.

7. Lens

Use your imagination. If you want to shoot a panorama go for a wide angle lens. If you want to fill the photo with fireworks go for Telephoto. Undecided? Go for Wide to telezoom .

8. Tripod

Here you will be using longer shutter speeds for fireworks so its wise to go for a good steady tripod. It minimize camera movements. Carbon Fiber Tripods are very good for the purpose but they are bit costlier than the aluminum ones. If your tripod is not stable make your tripod more stable using a DIY sandbag.

Scroll down to see my recommendations for Camera, Lens and Accessories.

9. Remote Shutter Release / Intervalometer / Self Timer

This will comes really handy when you do long exposure fireworks shots. Like i mentioned earlier , stability is the key. Remember, you will be pressing the shutter button to take the photograph and it will definitely introduce movements/ vibrations. Therefore, this is a must have. Worse Case scenario go for the self timer.

10. Shoot Manual

Under low light, Autofocusing can be very very  difficult. End of the day you might lose most of shoots if you decide to go auto. My advice is to go Manual. 

11. Aperture

Unless you go for some crazy fireworks shots , you need both your background and foreground in focus. f/8 – f/16 is the best aperture to start.

12. Shutter Speed

This is one of the MOST important factors that decide” how awesome your fireworks will be”. Go for “Bulb (B) ” settings and use your self timer. Press the trigger when the burst begins and and release it when the blast reaches its peak.

13. ISO

To get clean shots you need to go for low ISO levels. If possible, try to stick the minimum ISO of your camera.

14. In camera Noise Reduction

Most of the cameras comes with inbuilt noise reduction (NR) algorithms. However, I prefer to do NR post processing (Lightroom , Photoshop or Nik Dfine 2.0)

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Point and Shoot Tips for Photographing Fireworks

15. Mini Tripod

There are plenty of mini-tripod options for P & S cameras.

16. Program Mode

Most P & S cameras comes with a setting for a fireworks / Slow Shutter mode. If you don’t know how to find it check the user manual.

If you have advanced  P & S such as Sony RX1 or Fuji Film X100s go for Manual mode and follow the tips under DSLR section.


Phone Camera Tips for Photographing Fireworks

17. Go for a Long Exposure Photography App (Android & iOS)

There are so many apps that are optimized for long exposure photography than the Native camera app that comes with your phone. Try to find a best app for your budget.

18. Turn off HDR (Android & iOS)

iPhone 4+ and Galaxy SIV have native HDR functionalities built in. However, it is not going to help you when it comes to shooting fireworks. Its better to turn it off.

19. Camera Phone Tripod

There are nifty tripods those works well with your camera or you can make your own. Select the best one that you can afford.

An Extra Tip for Photographing Fireworks

** Take lot of Pictures

Don’t forget to HAVE FUN


Recommended Gear (High Price -> Low Price)

DSLR Cameras

Advanced Point and Shoot Cameras


Samsung Galaxy SIV

iPhone 5


Manfrotto Tripods and Ball Heads (DSLR)

Joby Gorillapod (for Phone and P&S)

Shutter Releases

 Satechi Timer Remotes (Affordable and Comes with lot of Functionalities)

Happy Independence Day & Enjoy Shooting Fireworks , If you enjoyed the post please share it [wpsocialite]

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