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Fireworks Photography Tips

June 16, 2017

It won’t be long before we’re all outside on the Fourth of July, enjoying the sun, grilling some burgers, and visiting with friends and family. But when the sun goes down, that’s when the real action begins. Fireworks displays are a great tradition in the United States, and there’s nothing better than taking in a beautiful fireworks display after a long day of summer fun

If you’re like us, you’d love to get some great photos of the fireworks. But that’s easier said than done. The combination of the bright, exploding lights and the dark backgrounds can make fireworks photography tricky. Here are a few tips that will ensure your photos turn out the way you want them to. 

The Physical Setup 

  • Make sure you get to your location early enough that you can scout the area and find the best vantage point for your shots. Keep in mind that you may want to incorporate buildings and other elements into your shot. Fireworks in the sky by themselves can be interesting, but some of the best shots make use of a skyline, river, or other elements in the background or foreground. If you are using a skyline or other elements in your shot, it’s important that you keep the horizon line straight. 
  • Remember that you’ll want to use a tripod for these shots. The reason being that fireworks photos require long exposures, which means slow shutter speeds. So keep your camera from moving with a good tripod and use a shutter release cord or wireless remote. The tripod will also help you keep your horizon nice and straight for your photos. 

Camera Settings 

  • Use the manual mode on your camera to make sure that you get your settings just the way you want them. It’s a good idea to set your ISO low, at around 100-200. For your aperture, you can start at f/11. Also, think about using the Bulb setting instead of choosing a shutter speed. This allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you’d like. Try hitting the shutter as the firework launches. Keep it held down for a few seconds until the burst from the firework has faded. 
  • Remember that these are starting points, however. One of the struggles that many people have with fireworks photography is that it takes quite a bit of trial and error. You’ll have to play around with many of your settings to find what looks right to you, or to get a specific type of photo. 
  • For instance, some may say that you should get your shots in early in the show in order to avoid the smoke and haze that will linger in the air. On the other hand, you might also find that the reflectiveness of the smoke adds something interesting to your shot. 

Here’s another tip—it’s much easier to get a great photo if you can see clearly yourself. If your eyesight isn’t what it could be, then give OCLI a call today and we can talk about your options for LASIK eye surgery.

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