Fireworks tips?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pezdaddy, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. pezdaddy macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2012
    I did a quick search but didn't see anything.

    With 4th of July coming up, what are your best tips/tricks on shooting fireworks?

    Google brings up plenty of articles, but what do you find works for you the best?
  2. JDDavis macrumors 65816


    Jan 16, 2009
    Scout out your location if you can so you know what will be in the background and from where you will be shooting. Personally I find shots with a well composed background more interesting than just a burst in a black sky. Try to find a spot where you don't have to deal with people's heads in your frame. Anything over water where you can get reflections is always nice.

    Figure out which way the wind might be blowing (or where the smoke is going to be) as it might obscure your shots.

    Use a heavy tripod. Might even weight it down if you can.

    Compose the image you want early and then don't touch it (much). Use the early fireworks to zero in on the composition. Don't try to get dozen's of different images.

    Use a wireless remote and I had the most success with the bulb setting and opening and closing the shutter manually. That way I never touch the camera. You shouldn't have to adjust ISO or aperture once it's dark. Check the image that pops up on the LCD after the shutter closes and judge if you need longer or shorter. Don't touch the camera!

    With the bulb setting you can play with the shutter for different effects. Open it when the sky is dark and get the entire life of a burst. Try to catch just the largest part of the firework. Leave it open for a while and get multiple bursts etc... (you might have to mess with the Aperture if you are going for really long exposures)

    That was a lot of blah, blah....I think the essentials are; have a plan, a sturdy tripod, a wireless remote, and learn to use the bulb mode. :cool:
  3. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Single most important item is a tripod. You won't get anything decent without it. If you do very long exposures the light from the fireworks will light up the background and smoke enough to affect the pix. Check the wind so the smoke won't be an issue and watch your background.
  4. swordio777 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    Good suggestions above. As they've both said - definitely use a good, heavy tripod.

    One tip I read a while back was that a piece of thick black card can be your best friend for shooting fireworks. Use your camera's bulb setting lock the shutter open indefinitely, but hold the black card over your lens so the shot doesn't expose.

    When the firework bursts, quickly remove the black card to capture it, then put the black card back. When the next firework bursts repeat it.
    Do this for 3 or 4 different fireworks before closing the camera's shutter and starting a new exposure.

    This approach has a few benefits:
    1) you can capture a number of different fireworks in the same shot, even through they didn't happen at the same time.
    2) you can minimise smoke in your frame and the firework's launching trails before it bursts
    3) you can time your shots much more accurately by moving a sheet of card than you can by setting up a 3-4 second exposure & firing with a cable release.

    It might take a bit of trial & error to get the best exposures, but I've seen this technique produce some incredible results.

    Hope that helps.
  5. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Remember that fireworks are hot. Set your white balance to 56k (or just the 'daylight' setting).

    I realize that this is meaningless if you're shooting RAW, but why make more work for yourself later?

    The one exception to this is if you're trying to get something in the foreground like a building or a bridge. In that case you may want to set color for that object and just let the fireworks end up cooler than they should be.
  6. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    What I did last year was

    Remote Release
    Fixed/Manual Focus
    Neutral Density Filter
    Long Exposure
    100 ISO
    F8 (or a mid aperture so I could be sure the varying fireworks looked reasonably crisp)

    I tested this method after a local triple-A baseball game.
    first 'real' fireworks I have shot, other times I didn't invest much thought other than a tripod.
    And this was before I started using RAW for photos.

    Here's one example:

    Fireworks @ Ripken Stadium 01 by BJMRamage Photos, on Flickr

    *Interesting, I did not crop that. I thought seeing it on Flickr it was a vertical shot/crop

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