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How To Photograph Fireworks Like A Pro

Fireworks will soon fill the skies across the country in celebration of America’s Independence Day. Freezing that spectacular display in your camera frame can be a challenging task, but we’re here to help with some pro tips for better fireworks photos. Keep reading to see how you can set your camera to properly capture the moving display of flashing lights and watch Sony Artisan Paul Gero for even more tips in the video below.

Get ready for the Fourth of July with these 10 pro tips for photographing flashing firework displays.

1. Choose The Right Lens

The best fireworks photos typically include more than just the fireworks – they show context of the entire scene. Incorporating city buildings, people or other structures can make the moment look even more amazing in your image. To ensure you have enough length to capture the entire scene, we recommend heading out with a wide zoom lens so you can easily adjust your composition on the go.

2. Use A Tripod

Keeping your camera steady so you can slow down the shutter speed to capture the vibrancy of the fireworks means you’re going to have to have it on a stable tripod in a safe place where it won’t be bumped. If your camera isn’t completely still, the nice and sharp lines in your image could all turn into a blur.

3. Use A Remote Shutter Release

This is another way to remove the chance of camera shake while photographing fireworks. If you have a remote shutter, connect it to your camera so you can step away and then trigger the shutter. It will remove the need for you to actually push the shutter button on the camera, so you won’t have to worry about it moving. No remote shutter? See if you can try to time it out with the self-timer. It’s challenging but can work if you time it right.

4. Shoot In Manual

You’ll want your camera to be set to Manual mode so you have full control of the settings. The automatic setting likely won’t correctly expose the image, so by shooting in manual you can set your shutter speed, aperture and ISO for a properly exposed result.

5. Shoot RAW

Shoot in RAW so that you have the most flexibility when it comes to post-processing.

6. Set A Low ISO

This will of course depend on the condition and location in which you’re shooting, but try to start with a low ISO – either 100 or 200 – and then you can adjust from there.

7. Set A Narrow Aperture

Again this depends on the condition, but try to set your aperture somewhere around f/8 or f/11. Check to see how the fireworks look in your Electronic Viewfinder and adjust from there.

8. Choose A Working Shutter Speed

Usually a shutter speed of 1-2 seconds is a good starting point for photographing fireworks. If you want to change up the length of the streaking lights, you can increase the shutter speed and reduce the aperture. 

9. Show Up Early

Fireworks tend to draw large crowds. Since having a steady camera is so important for fireworks photography, make sure you arrive at the location early and claim the space you need to set up your tripod. You might even want to mark the legs of the tripod with bright tape so people see it if you’re shooting in a crowded space.

10. It’s All About Trial & Error

So much of photographing fireworks is trial and error. Show up ready to shoot in manual and be prepared to work with your settings to get what you need. You might not get the first one but as you see what you need to do for a sharp and properly-exposed image, the results will come.

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