These days there seems to be a firework display at almost every outdoor event, and there are also plenty of other opportunities which you can use to perfect your Firework technique. The unpredictable nature of the position, color and shape of each firework explosion means that no two shots will ever look the same. But follow our advice and you’ll be able to get some stunning fireworks shots.
Capturing the spectacle of a firework display is all about predicting when and where the most dramatic events are going to take place. Try to find out where the main display at your event will be taking place, and where the fireworks will be fired from. To capture the wider view of large public displays it’s often best to avoid the most popular spots close to the action. At popular events you’ll struggle to find enough room to set up your tripod – a necessity to shoot the display – and you’ll also often be too close to the action. It’s much better to find a spot that gives you a viewpoint over the whole display, to allow you to capture as many of the individual fireworks as possible. It’s worth going back to the busier areas if you want to try some portraits of family and friends around the fire though.
When searching for a place to shoot the display, look out for things to use to enhance your images. Flood-lit buildings are great for giving a sense of place, while water can create amazing reflections to add an extra element to your pictures.
Unless you’ve been to the same display before, trying to predict where many of the fireworks are going to explode can be tricky. Some rockets can go hundreds of feet in the air before they create their light show. The wide-angle end of a standard zoom will give a broad enough view for most displays, but if you have one it’s worth taking a wider lens just in case the rockets go much higher. While the results can be pretty hit or miss, the unpredictability can lead to some great results. Don’t expect every shot to be a winner and make sure you shoot plenty!
If there’s a fire (or floodlights) near to the fireworks display you can include the light from this to give your shots an extra glow, rather than simply recording the fireworks against a black sky. As the subject is much brighter than the surroundings the exposure times are a little more hit or miss than for just the fireworks themselves, so experiment with shutter speeds and aperture settings.
How to set up your shots
The intermittent and unpredictable nature of fireworks means that the automatic exposure systems will rarely give you good results. Instead you’ll need to set the camera to manual exposure mode and set the shutter speed and aperture yourself.
To finish reading the rest of this article and get great firework photos this 4th of July, go to How To Shoot Great Fireworks Images!