Tips for Fireworks Photography: How to Capture Fireworks with a Compact Digital Camera

Tips for Fireworks Photography: How to Capture Fireworks with a Compact Digital Camera
Page content

Pre-Shooting Setup

If you want to create sharp fireworks photos you’ll need one indispensable tool - a solid tripod. A tripod will give you a stable base to eliminate blurriness caused by camera shake during the longer shutter speeds you’ll need for this photography technique. Don’t settle for the most inexpensive tripod you see at your local superstore because cheaper tripods are often made from flimsy plastic that can’t support much weight and fall apart after only a few uses. Keep your receipt in the event the tripod you choose isn’t right for your needs.

Many point-and-shoot cameras are equipped with a fireworks-specific mode that turns off the flash, lowers the ISO setting, and adjusts the autofocus to infinity, amongst other adjustments. If you don’t have a fireworks-specific mode, the landscape mode also sets focus to infinity. Both of these automated modes works well for capturing nice fireworks images, but delving a bit deeper into your camera’s settings will give you more creative control.

How to Capture Fireworks

Basic Manual Settings

If you haven’t used the manual settings on your camera, you may need the manual to help you adjust a few features that will help you with your night time shots.

Understand how to adjust your camera’s ISO settings. ISO is the digital equivalent to film speed, so the higher the number, the less light you need to shoot sharp pictures. The downside is that higher ISO settings also produce more grain (or digital noise), which is especially apparent in dark areas of an image.

Use your camera’s lowest ISO setting, which for many models is 100. Lowering the ISO means your camera’s sensor is less sensitive to light, so you’ll need longer shutter speeds to achieve the proper exposure. With regard to fireworks pictures, this means you’ll see some trails of light as the fireworks move through the sky, and with some practice you’ll learn to use this property for pleasing effects.

Controlling your shutter speed is also important. Most point-and-shoot cameras have long exposure modes that let you shoot one-second (and much longer) exposures. Start your experiments with a one-second exposure, review your pictures, and adjust the shutter speed as necessary.

Additional Tips on Capturing Fireworks

Photographing Fireworks

Longer shutter speeds affect both battery life and flash card capacity. Understanding these details will help you avoid frustration during fireworks shoots.

Those long exposures mean your camera gathers more data during each picture you take. Because of that extra data, your flash card won’t store as many pictures as it would if you were shooting shorter exposures. So bring additional flash cards or shoot more sparingly to conserve card storage capacity.

Longer exposures also require more power from your camera’s battery. Depending on your camera model the increase in power drain may be very noticeable, causing you to run out of shooting time very quickly. You’ll want to have an extra battery or two on hand so you don’t miss the grand finale.