Words and Photos by Charlotte logo

How to Photograph Fireworks


By Charlotte Lowrie

Fireworks burstsWith the Fourth of July just around the corner, you’ll want to capture the fireworks festivities. I’ll share the exposure settings and techniques that I use for shooting fireworks.

  1. For distant displays, use a telephoto lens. A focal length of 100-400mm works well depending on the distance. For my shooting, the “distance” ranges anywhere from city displays that are miles away to our neighborhood display that is a couple of houses away. Alternately, if you’re capturing fireworks against a city skyline, monument, or with a silhouetted crowd, a wide-angle lens is the ticket.

  2. Set the camera to M (Manual) mode, and then set the exposure thusly: ISO: 100 Aperture: f/11 Shutter Speed: 0.7 to 0.5 second. I occasionally use a one-second exposure. You may need to adjust the exposure settings slightly depending on the ambient light.

  3. Mount the camera on a tripod and orient the lens toward the area where the fireworks will explode. You may want to use a remote release or a cable release to trip the shutter. 4. Focus the lens on infinity for distant displays. Now it's a matter of timing the shutter release to catch the explosions at their peak while avoiding the smoke of the explosion. Take some practice shots, and you'll soon get the hang of it. Then you can sit next to the camera and press the Shutter button as you simultaneously enjoy the show.

Related articles:

About the author: Charlotte Lowrie is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of 17 photography books, numerous magazine articles, and she teaches photography classes at BetterPhoto.com.

All images and articles are copyrighted by Words and Photos and may not be reprinted without permission.
Contact: charlotte@wordsandphotos.org