How to Take Pictures of 4th of July Fireworks

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Want to know how to take pictures of 4th of July Fireworks?  It can be tricky, but with a little practice, you can capture the scene in a creative way!

How to Photograph Fireworks

How to Photograph Fireworks

Photographing fireworks is a lot different from photographing people, which is what most of my photography tips are geared towards. It’s something that still takes a lot of practice for me, so be forewarned and don’t get too frustrated with yourself when you attempt it this holiday season.



Fireworks with reflection in the water

Tips for taking firework pictures

#1 Use a tripod. To capture evening light when photographing fireworks, you need to leave your camera  shutter open for at least a few seconds, and no matter how still we think we are, we move, and then the image moves. It is helpful to have a remote to trigger the shutter on that tripod, because when you press the shutter, it will move, but you can still try this without a remote. Your camera timer is an alternative, but it would be tricky to time that, but with a big firework display, it could work.


Fireworks from above, capturing the scene of the land below (with a little silhouette)

#2 Manual focus.  When photographing fireworks this is something I don’t often do because of vision issues, but in this case, it’s hard use the cameras focus when the fireworks go off because a) they are too fleeting and b) with your shutter open a few seconds and multiple fireworks going off, the focal point will keep changing.  The auto abilities will go haywire and you may miss the shot.  You will need to look for something in the distance to focus on, or just focus on the open sky.  You will likely be able to set the focus once and not need to change it during the fireworks, so set that before the show begins.


Double fireworks here! (Get it, the kiss…) For this affect, you will need a constant light source on the couple while using the settings I have suggested for the fireworks behind.

How to change your camera settings in fireworks pictures

#3 Set your ISO–Though you are shooting into a dark sky, fireworks are pretty bright, so shooting at ISO 100 works well, and will produce the least amount of grain as well. Try moving it to ISO 200 or 400 if you still feel it’s dark.


This is an awesome silhouette of people watching fireworks in the distance off of a pier on the water.

#4 Set your Aperture–Shooting at a low aperture ( with a higher number) is ideal.  Something like f/8 or f/11 would work as a good place to start, and will have the landscape in focus when graphing fireworks.


I love the skyline in this shot. This shutter was longer because you can see the falling fireworks dragging downward.

#5 Set your Shutter Speed–Last but certainly not least, how long to keep your shutter open is an often asked question.  You will have to experiment a little, and it depends on the effect you are going for.  At least 1 second (1″), but up to 4 seconds (4″) I would try.  So instead of the standard 1/125 for people, it will show 1″ or something for 1 second on the camera display. The shorter amount (1 second) will be crisp lines while the longer (4 seconds) will produce the streaks more.  Like when you are using sparklers to “draw” something.


For the above effect, it’s ideal to have the camera on a tripod to try to hold still while “drawing” with the sparkler in the air.


This is shooting up to the sky, just capturing the fireworks, which is nice to fill the frame with them.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:  Don’t use your pop up flash….not gonna work!

Hopefully you know feel like you know how to take pictures of 4th of July fireworks.  So be safe, have a great holiday, and get some great pictures!

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