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How To Take Great fireworks Photos – The Not So Great Way

The Bare Minimum You Will Need To Have a Good Chance At Great Fireworks Photos

Because most cameras nowadays are automatic and do not have a manual mode, it is hard to get a good fireworks photo with them

Many do have a “city night” mode that may let you get some good firework shots.

The minimum you need to get fireworks photos:

  • A camera with a “night city” mode or something similar. This mode setting on the camera will let the camera use longer shutter speeds that can be held by hand. You need this because many bursts of fireworks take over a second to happen. At the normal shutter speeds, all that will show up is scattered dots of light.
    This mode is usually a identified with a moon or star symbol. Most cameras with this mode also have a long exposure plus flash mode. Unless you want to try and take a picture of some friends with the fireworks behind them, you will not want the flash (your friends will probably want to watch the show anyway). Check your camera instructions to see if it has the mode and how to set it.
  • You will also need a way to trigger the camera without causing it to shake. The best is a remote release. If your lucky, your camera has an infrared release that came with it or can be ordered. Most modern cameras cannot use the good old cheap mechanical releases. You may be able to make your own release. There is a cool book called Hacking Digital Cameras that shows how to use a television remote as an infrared release with some cameras or make an electronic release for cameras that use an electronic remote.
    If your camera does not have a release available or cannot use one you will need to rely on the self-timer. You will have to guess what the fireworks will look like when the timer triggers the camera.
    You may get away with using your finger to trigger the camera, but you will very likely cause some blurriness in the photo from the movement of your finger.
  • You will also need something to hold the camera.
    Ideally a good strong photo tripod. Most likely if you have a tripod, it is a flimsy photo-video tripod from a consumer electronic department store. This will do. A bean bag may actually hold the camera more steady if you can find a solid object to rest it on. You can make one yourself and fill it with rice.

The main technique for this kind of camera is timing so the camera shutter is open while the fireworks are exploding

This will be the real trick. It will be even harder if you have to use a self timer. Your best chance will be at the end of the show when there are lots of firework going off at once. It will not be easy but you may get an ok picture.

For those that have camera with a manual mode with a bulb shutter setting, it is much easier to get a great shot. That is what we will discuss next.

Read about the best way to take fireworks photos

About James Thoenes

James has spent most of his life involved in photography. He is now dedicated to producing portraits that his clients will treasure for the rest of their lives.