How to take good photos of fireworks
Here’s how you can take good photos in special lighting conditions
No matter if New Year, a national holiday or Summer party – colourful firework displays are always a winner. It’s a shame that it’s over so quickly. It doesn’t take much though to capture this moment in photos forever.
As a general rule: To capture fireworks in a dark environment, you need longer exposure times and therefore a stable, vibration-free surface for your camera; ideally, this would be a tripod. Alternatively, any wall protrusion will do, and if in doubt, improvise!
Of course, not everyone wants to lug expensive photo equipment to such events with them – fireworks can also be captured with just a smartphone. Adding smartphone lenses can be helpful. A wide-angle or fish-eye lens is inexpensive and brings more detail into the image. Wobble-free positioning is important even with a smartphone. The benefit of this though is that the tripod is also much smaller and easily fits into a jacket pocket. Then, once you’ve taken your perfect snapshot, you can use the photo to make great “Happy New Year” cards for your friends!
The three most important requirements for photographing fireworks.
An SLR camera with zoom lens in mid-focal length range or a compact camera with the option of manually setting the aperture, time and ISO is helpful. Make sure to switch off the autofocus. A stable tripod is also important.
These Three things are essential:
- The photo’s layout and composition
- The right focus
A photography guide
Start by choosing a suitable location. You should avoid crowds, as there will be the risk of someone getting in front of your camera right at the most important moment.
As far as possible, you should also avoid very bright light sources in the immediate vicinity and in the image section.
- Fireworks are unpredictable. So select a large image section to really capture everything.
- Now put the camera on the tripod
- Set the camera to manual mode, indicated by “M”.
- Choose an aperture that is as small as possible (large aperture number of 8 or 11).
- Set the exposure time to 2 seconds (using the “bulb” setting, the camera will be exposed for as long as you hold the shutter open by keeping the shutter button held down).
- A low ISO number prevents image noise (ISO 100–200).
- If there are points near the fireworks that you can focus on, take advantage of that opportunity.
- If not, wait for the first rocket and focus on that.
- It is important to disable the autofocus (AF) immediately after focusing.
Taking pictures with a Smartphone
Find a good location – preferably away from large crowds – and a stable position for your smartphone.
The surroundings should be as dark as possible so that the fireworks stand out to their best advantage – do not use a fill-in flash.
If you’re using an additional lens: Put it on the camera lens of your smartphone and attach it. This allows you to create the widest possible image section.
Do not zoom in, since this would reduce the image section. In addition, smartphones only have a digital zoom, which leads to a loss in quality.
Take HDR shots – the smartphone camera takes a series of exposures and puts these together to create an optimised photo. This creates strong contrasts between the night sky and the fireworks.
There are smartphones that allow manual camera settings – Select:
- the manual focus into the distance
- the ISO to 100 - 200
- a medium exposure (some cameras have sliders to set the exposure, which is indicated by a sun or a lightbulb). Take a few test shots and adjust both the focus and the exposure again as necessary.
If your smartphone doesn’t allow manual settings, you can – if the option is available – choose the fireworks or night mode or just use the preset automatic mode. Or you can leave it up to post-processing! Using the Lightroom or Pixl app, images that are too dark can easily be lightened up or colours can be intensified. Try it out now!
Use the continuous shooting function (burst mode) to avoid blur caused by repeated touching of the shutter release button.
Another advantage of taking snapshots with your smartphone: you can use the ifolor app to send your favourite picture directly to your loved ones by postcard. Perfect to send lovely greetings right at the start of the
If you have a little more time, you can also create photo greeting cards at a later date. So, you can edit your favourite snapshots a bit beforehand, and then it’s entirely up to you whether you order packs of 10 or use several snapshots – . Or you can opt for one of our cool New Year’s layouts!
When and how much should you photograph?
The best time to press the shutter release is just before the rocket explodes. And your finger should stay on the trigger, too. Take as many pictures as possible to increase your chances of capturing as much of the colourful spectacle as possible. You can still sort it all out later!
A little tip:
By following the rocket with your lens (“dragging” or “panning”), you can create interesting, surrealistic images.
And once you’re done?
But here’s a hint in advance: fireworks make a cool wall decoration, especially in HD Metal Print or on acrylic glass, which makes the colours shine particularly bright!