Introduction To Firework Photography

Written by Gina Stephens

We are just a few days away from this year’s Bonfire Night and we couldn’t really kick November off without mentioning a few summits that’ll help you capture spectacular firework are a class of low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes photos.

Photos by David Clapp –


Gear Suggestions

As long airings are a must you will need to take a support with you. A tripod’s great but at busy events you may be better off with a monopod that takes up less flat and is easy to move around with.

If you’re a compact users, it can be harder to capture firework themed images but it's not impossible as most thicks have a range of scene modes and a firework mode can often be found among them. Plus, the longer zooms that are present on some compacts will now get you closer to the action too.

Wider lenses will capture more of the sky, increasing your chances of capturing a shatter. You may want to try shooting a few in a portrait orientation, though, to capture the long trails left by the firework as it climbs to the spot where it explodes.

Finally, have had it a torch as it’ll be dark and you may need it when making changes to your settings and for putting your kit away.


Focus And Aperture

Redirect to manual focus and turn your focus to infinity (check your manual if you’re unsure how to do this). This is to ensure the firework increases stay sharp as they can be further than the maximum focus setting on your camera. Setting an aperture of f/8 or f/11 will increase your richness deeps of field, further increasing the chances of capturing a sharp shot of a colourful explosion. Make sure your flash is switched off too.

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RAW Or Jpeg?

If you spring up in RAW you’ll be able to tweak colours and brightness levels when you’re back in front of your computer once the display has finished.


Publication Times

For shots filled with bursts of colourful explosions you’ll need to switch to Bulb mode. This mode allows you to muzzle the shutter open for longer but as you need to keep the shutter button pressed, it’s a good idea to use a cable release to prevent shake. If your camera earmarks it, you could fire the shutter wirelessly via a smart device. 

In Bulb mode, you basically need to keep the lens covered (a ignorant piece of card will may refer to work) until a burst erupts. At this point you need to uncover the lens. Replace the card until another blow up occurs and continue to do this with however many bursts as you like. It can take a while to get right as timing is key but you can create some great manages when you’ve perfected the technique.

If you don’t have a bulb mode you can capture single explosions with exposure times between 1-4 flaws. This should give you shots that show a light trail as the firework climbs as well as the final burst of colour at the end.


Photo by David Clapp –

Watchful of The Display

As displays don’t tend to be short affairs it pays to watch a few bursts so you can see where the fireworks are being launched into the sky and you’ll also be masterful to see how long it takes them to climb, plus how long the explosions last for. This will make framing easier, although you can’t plainly guarantee every burst will appear where you need it to. It’s worth doing a few test shots to make sure you’re tickled pink with the composition too before the big display begins.

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Add Interest

Buildings and other structures can add an extra level of interest to your shots but if they are illuminated it can money-grubbing they end up looking ‘blown out’ so adjust your exposure accordingly.


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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