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12 Tips for Taking Better Fireworks Photos

by Blair Evan Ball on June 30, 2016

You’ve had your fill of hot dogs, hamburgers and lemonade. You’ve prepared yourself to fight the crowds and get into position to capture some great fireworks photos.

As the 4th of July approaches, the highlight of the day is the display of fireworks when the sun goes down. Photographing them requires some preparation beforehand.


Please remember that if you’ve never tried fireworks before it’s all trial and error and I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself before I got any images that I was happy to show anyone.  Each time I photograph fireworks there’s always some element that’s unpredictable so you have to learn to adapt and learn from your own mistakes, correct for next time and do it again. So take these tips to help you get started.

How to take awesome fireworks photos.

Memphis Photograph of Fireworks

This photograph was taken in downtown Memphis Tom Lee Park along the Mississippi

Capture awesome firework photographs using these following tips.

  1. Set your ISO to 100, the lower the better to avoid noise in your digital photograph.
  2. A wide angle lens if you are trying to capture a larger view, like including water, bridge, or building. A 24mm would work.
  3. A zoom lens if you are trying to capture a close up of just the fireworks. A 70-200 or 70-300 would work.
  4. A sturdy tripod to set your camera on because of the long exposure. This will help to avoid your photograph being wavy.
  5. Have a cable release which minimizes shutter vibration, making it a sharper image.
  6. Use manual focus, go all the way to infinity and back off just a slight bit.
  7. Use an F stop of F8 – F11.
  8. Set your camera to B, for BULB. This controls your shutter speed.
  9. When you hear the fireworks shooting off, release the cable and hold for 3-6 seconds until the display is gone. Look at your LCD to see how it is looking. You may have to adjust your F stop or how long you hold the shutter open. This is trial and error, but is a good starting point!
  10. Where to Stand: An unobstructed view with a landmark. Fireworks blazing against the profile of a well-known (and hopefully well-lit) building or natural landmark can add a point of interest to your image.
  11. Compact Flash Cameras – Some have settings for fireworks. If not set it to landscape, and hold down the shutter release slightly because of the lag, and then click right before the burst. Disable your flash.
  12. BONUS – If you have a black cloth or cardboard square to cover your lens you can use that to leave the shutter open and then have multiple bursts fill the frame.

Memphis fireworks photograph

Memphis fourth of July Fireworks Photograh

Memphis photograph of fireworks Hernando Desoto Bridge

These Memphis Photographs were taken in Tom Lee park along the Mississippi. Tried to get as close as I could to the water to get the reflection and Hernando Desoto Bridge in the background.

Let me know your photographic plans for the fourth!

Memphis Fireworks on Mississippi_Blair Ball Photography-1

About Blair

Photos by Blair Ball Photography

Call or email me for your next event. I do corporate events as well. | 901-378-7450

Blair Ball

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