How to photograph fireworks:

The most important element in photographing fireworks is patience. Sometimes, it takes a combination of serendipity, and trial and error to get that magic shot that provides visual pizzazz and emotional impact. Here are some basic technical considerations to keep in mind.

"Starburst" by Scott Secord
Photo by Scott Secord – Starburst                  
  • Use a tripod to mount and steady your camera.
  • If your camera allows, set your shutter speed to bulb for time exposures of several seconds. I use a cable release and my exposures range from 2 to 5 seconds, depending on how many bursts are happening.
  • Try to anticipate where the bursts are going to occur. I follow the path of the mortar shell when it ascends, and open the shutter just before the explosion.
  • Medium-wide to medium telephoto lenses work best.  I usually range from 50mm to about 120mm mm focal lengths). This yields a close enough image to give you some detail. However, be careful about not clipping off the fireworks trails at the edge of your frame. The trick is to pre-position your camera in the general area of the bursts and hope for the best!


© R. Scott Secord