Who doesn’t love fireworks? And who doesn’t get out their phone and start snapping pictures to attempt to capture the detonated beauty of popping colors? And who ends up getting blurry, unfocused, and washed-out pictures of a fantastic fireworks show? Well, good news! Taking a good photo of fireworks isn’t actually as hard as it seems….
How to capture fireworks:
Tip #1: Take as many shots as you can & don’t worry about whether or not they’re good just yet. Focus on closing your shutter just when you see the projectile shoot up (before the fireworks come bursting out). This takes practice, so keep at it with as steady a hand as possible.
Tip #2: Choose your composition before you start taking shots! Figure out where the fireworks are, how much space they take when they shoot up, and how you want to capture the moment. Think about frames (in this photo of Tulane’s Homecoming fireworks, the fireworks were shooting out of the main student building and over the quad. I chose to frame the photo with the trees , that way I could aim the shot high enough to cut out any clutter – like other people, buildings or structures – and still include some natural scenery), any background subjects you’d like to include, or a specific angle. If you choose your composition first, you won’t have to keep adjusting during the fireworks show so you can focus on getting clear, focused shots.
Tip #3: Set your exposure correctly early on. Make sure your camera is exposing for the foreground (the extremely bright fireworks) and not the background (the night sky). This is the most common reason that photos of fireworks end up becoming very white-washed: the camera exposes for the sky, which is dark, and this overexposes for the fireworks.
Tip #4: Spend time editing.
- Pick photos that have the best composition and are the most clearly focused on the fireworks.
- Crop these photos to get a closer view of the fireworks or to cut out anything unnecessary that you captured during the show.
- Address lighting first by adjusting for exposure again, brightness, and shadows/highlights. Spend the most time at this step because playing with lighting is what creates seemingly sharper and more detailed images. If you’re on your phone and using Instagram (like myself) then try Instagram’s “structure” feature (it’s my favorite).
- Edit for color, because that’s the best part of fireworks!
- Consider if you want to add more aesthetic edits like a blur or vignette.
I hope these tips help you out! Happy fireworks-capturing!