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How to photograph fireworks

Eiffel Tower fireworks
Eiffel Tower fireworks – camera settings : 120mm (lens: Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8) ISO 80, f/8,0, 2,6 sec

Fireworks are beautiful to watch and as a photographer, you would probably want to capture the magical show with your camera. However, it is important to be well prepared. In fact, it is not that difficult to photograph fireworks however there are a few elements you need to make sure to master. In this article I will tell you what camera equipment is needed and also share the camera settings. Everything for you to be fully prepared to photograph fireworks!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • a camera (DSLR, mirrorless or any compact camera)
  • a sturdy tripod
  • a remote shutter release
Eiffel Tower fireworks – camera settings : 135mm (lens: Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8) ISO 80, f/8,0, 14 sec

LOCATION

You will need to do some research in advance to find the best location and a spot where to set up your tripod. Planning is a big part of photography. For example, in Paris, I know by experience that places such as Champs de Mars get overly crowded for the Bastille Day, so it’s a location I don’t even consider to photograph from. The less people you have around you, the better you will be able to work in tranquillity. Make sure to go to your spot early! You might not be the only one who considers the spot ;-) The choice of lens depends on from what spot you will do the photo shooting from and how far away from the subject you are. The photos of the Eiffel Tower in this article were all taken with my Nikon 70-200mm teleobjective lens.

How to photograph fireworks, Eiffel Tower fireworks – camera settings : 120mm (lens: Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8) ISO 80, f/8,0, 8,0 sec

CAMERA SETTINGS

Let’s move on to the technical part! In order to be able to have some wonderful shots of the fireworks you need to have the right camera settings. First of all, make sure to work in MANUAL mode. Then there are four key elements you need to master: focus mode, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Before shooting, make sure to TURN OFF the flash and the VR (Vibrance Reduction) if your camera has it.

FOCUS MODE

Setting the correct focus mode is half of the work, you don’t want to end up with blurry and photos out of focus. I would suggest not to change the focus mode during the session. In the darkness its quite difficult to set the focus. I usually set the focus mode when it’s still light and turn off the camera until its time to begin to photograph the fireworks. However, IF you still feel for changing focus mode during the session, make sure to bring a flashlight so that you can light up a spot and set your focus. I usuall turn of the autofocus and work directly with manual focus. However, if you prefer you can use the autofocus to set the focus in the begininng, but make sure to turn it off as soon as you want to photograph the fireworks!

APERTURE

For the photos you can see in this article I used the shutter speed f 8. But you could even go down to f 12. Anything between f 8 – f 12, I would give sharp photos with the fireworks in focus.

SHUTTER SPEED

There is no “specific speed” to use. Everything depends on the fireworks and what you like to capture. In the photos you can see in this article I have used a shutter speed between 2-15 seconds. Experiment and find what you like most. The longer exposure the more the sky will be brightened up by the smoke after the fireworks. I prefer to have a dark backdrop for the fireworks and therefore try not to exceed the shutter speed too much.

ISO

Usually, in low light situation we would increase the ISO. However, as the purpose in this situation is to capture the fireworks with a longer shutter speed, we can use the lowest ISO. One of the advantages of this is that we will also reduce the image noise. In the photos in this article I used ISO 80 throughout the entire serie.

Eiffel Tower fireworks – camera settings : 135mm (lens: Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8) ISO 80, f/8,0, 2,8 sec

BULB MODE

First time shooting with a remote shutter release? Don’t panic! It’s not difficult to use at all. Insert the remote shutter release to your camera. Go through the camera settings you will need for the scene that you will photograph. When you are ready, then set the camera to Bulb mode (on most DSLR cameras you reach the Bulb mode when turning the shutter speed beyond 30 seconds. As the firework explode press on the remote shutter release and keep it as long you wish. As mentioned above, I usually keep it for between 2-15 seconds. Experiment and find how you prefer to have the fireworks exposed in your photos. There is no right or wrong, only your taste decides!

If you have followed all the steps above you are ready to go! After taking the first photo, do have a quick look on it to make sure its sharp and perfectly exposed. And if all good then you can simply continue and capture the magnificent fireworks.

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    error: © Solli KANANI This photo is copyrighted by Solli KANANI. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.