Instructables

Easy Firework Photography

I Know this is a bit late for fourth of July, but fireworks still go on after the fourth

In this Instructable I will show you how to take great firework shots at night, with almost any camera.
 
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Step 1: Get Your camera

The camera i will be using is a Canon Rebel XTi , a SLR. Almost any camera with adjustable settings, can be used in this instructable. Almost any Canon Camera has settings like the rebel xti, so you should be able to follow along. I am certain that fuji and a few other brands have these manual settings. Other brands may work, but you will have to consult your manual for those.

Step 2: Figure out how to go to manual mode

In this step you will need to set your camera to a manual mode. If you have a SLR anything like mine you need to turn the dial on the top to "TV", which puts priority on shutter time. Depending on what camera you have you want to be able to adjust the time of the shutter.
If you have a Canon P&S camera give CHDK Canon Hack Development Kit a try. One of the features is the ability to use scripts and save files as RAW. By using a Motion detection script I just point the camera at the sky, press the shutter to activate and sit down.

https://picasaweb.google.com/graeme.ellis/CanadaDay2011?authuser=0&feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/graeme.ellis/CANADADAYFIREWORKS2009?authuser=0&feat=directlink
jssteinke (author)  Smoke_me_a_kipper3 years ago
I've heard about a lot of cool things you can do with CHDK, but ive never had a camera that can run it.
Natcan3 years ago
I have fun taking pictures of fireworks. I forgot my tripod so I got some interesting shots, some are hard to tell that they are fireworks.
esiegel13 years ago
shutter speed is less critical than f/stop for capturing fireworks. calibrate the aperture, then use bulb to mess with how the exposure changes the 'streaks'
esiegel13 years ago
From CreativeLIVE's free fireworks photography class:

If your camera happens to have a "bulb" setting, use 'bulb' to control how long the shutter stays open. longer exposures will result in streaks, shorter ones in sharp bits of the firework. Depends on the picture you're going for.

Recommended with an aperture of f/11 to f/16. Fireworks are BRIGHT!
Francois944 years ago
I have read somewhere (probably www.kenrockwell.com ) that you should use either Image Stabilisation OR a tripod, but not both (i.e. turn off Image Stabilisation when using the tripod).
You are correct. When you have image stabilization on it tries to guess which movements are not ones you as the photographer intentionally make. When you have it on a tripod, there aren't really going to be any movements for it to correct, and sometimes it tries to correct movements you INTEND to make, so you end up with a jumpy picture. Now, this probably won't affect taking stills very much, but is definitely an issue when you're taking video.
I suspect the OR means for night shots, use either image stabilisation or a tripod at least. I can't see why image stabilisation needs to be off on a tripod except that it's not strictly necessary. Having both on however shouldn't be a problem because the image stabilisation compensates for the camera moving so on a rock solid tripod it may simply have nothing to do. The other trick for night time shots is to use delayed shutter mode so the camera settles before taking the shot from a tripod, but with fireworks etc. that's not always possible. This can also work when hand-holding the camera because you are more still (stiller?) if all you are doing is holding the camera and not also pressing the shutter. Have fun with your camera though!
"Believe Nikon when they say don't use VR on a tripod. It screws up the image by adding blur! Likewise, if you brace the camera against something also turn the VR off."----- Source: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80400vr.htm
Duchateau4 years ago
Good writeup, Heinecke has the right idea with ISO 100 or lower, fireworks are amazingly bright as far as camera sensors go, i took these a couple years ago, very first time i've ever shot fireworks, you just have to get out there and do it, a tripod is a must!
FW144.jpgFW11.jpg
Heinecke4 years ago
You should use the manual mode. F around 8-11 or even higher if the pictures are still overexposed. Furthermore you should use the bulb mode. Press the button when you hear/see the firework and hold it for about 1-4 sec. ISO 100 or 50. Don't forget your tripod.
jssteinke (author)  Heinecke4 years ago
The bulb mode is good, but it is hard to get it just right because depending how far away you are the sound will come at different times. Also in the last step i say to use a tripod. Thanks for the comment!