Photographing fireworks – some advanced tips

People all around US are getting ready for the Independence Day celebrations, day off work, grilling, parades and of course, fireworks displays. It is a great photographic opportunity as well. And after you gained some basic skills, and things like using f/11, bulb, cable release, low ISO and tripod are your second nature, time to up your game. Here is a few tips to take your 4th of July (or any other fireworks display) photography to the whole new level.

  • Check the wind and how your chosen spot is positioned relative to the wind that evening. If the smoke is blown in your direction, it will spoil the view for you in the busy part of the show, with fireworks flying one after the other. It is sure to spoil you Grand Finale photo. see if you can position yourself so that wind (smoke) is blowing away from you.
  • Find the right spot. Yes, colorful shapes of fireworks on the black night sky are interesting all by itself, but how about making it even more interesting by adding a view to it? Find where the fireworks will reflect in the river or the lake. Or maybe you find a spot to include skyline of the city in your frame or the architectural landmark?
  • Try using a polarizing filter for more interesting effects. I read about it on Digital Photography School, and I am yet to try it.
  • Shoot both landscape and vertical scene. Landscape will put more emphasis on what’s more in your scene other than fireworks. The vertical will put more emphasis of spectacle of fireworks themselves.
  • When you see Grand Finale coming, decrease your ISO or set smaller aperture (larger f/ stop). The multitude of firework at the same time easily overexpose the image, and with no detail, there will be no good photo.
  • Here is a gallery of my favorite fireworks shots over the years, for your inspiration. Click on any image to see a gallery of larger images in the Lightbox.

    And if you want some more tips and techniques on shooting fireworks display this 4th of July (or summer festivities, if you are not in US)? Check out these tutorials:

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