Introduction: Photographing Fireworks

About: Frivolous Engineering is the end result of a hobby that got out of hand.

Getting good photos of fireworks is easy.
Just follow this instructable...

Step 1: Equipment

Camera that has manual settings

Step 2: Camera Setup

Using a tripod is key, because you're going to be taking exposures that are 2 - 4 seconds long and the camera must remain completely still while the shot is taken.

You'll need to be able to manually set the exposure (shutter speed), Aperture (the f-stop), and ISO.

Depending on your camera and how close you are to the fireworks, you will need to adjust the f-stop to fine tune the pictures.

Longer exposures will capture multiple fireworks bursts. 2 to 4 second exposures work great.

Step 3: ISO

ISO is the 'film' speed that the camera is using. In digital cameras the electronic pickup can capture images at various speeds.

You'll want to use a low ISO value, around 80 - 200. Although most cameras can shoot at higher ISO's such as 1000, the images will have more 'noise' and look 'grainy'.

I used an ISO of 125 for the photos in this instructable.

Pick a low ISO and stick with that. If you find that the photo is underexposed, adjust the aperture.

Step 4: Aperture

This is the iris of the camera and the f-stop settings control the aperture.

The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the iris is open.

What aperture to use depends on your camera, and how close you are to the fireworks.

You will most likely need to adjust this setting. Take some shots at around f-8 and if they look to be underexposed use a lower value. Overexposed then use a higher value.

The photo below was at f-11 and is under-exposed.

I found that f-5 worked for me.

Step 5: Exposure

A 2 - 4 second exposure will get good shot.

I used an exposure of 4 seconds for the pictures in this instructable.

The main thing to keep in mind is when you press the shutter release, the camera has to stay completely still. If you bump it during the exposure, it will blur things.

If you are using a film camera, a cable release or bulb that attaches to the shutter release can be used. It will allow you to press the button without shaking the camera, and you can hold it for any desired length of time.

Lithops suggested these great tips:

"if you want multiple fireworks in one shot, usually the other lit parts of the frame are badly overexposed, especially if you use longer exposures than just a couple of seconds... Just cover the lens with something like black foam rubber but just make sure that it covers enough beyond the lens. And be careful not to touch and shake the camera while doing that. Then simply take it away snappy when you see more fireworks shooting up."

"And you can use the cameras self timer... " (to prevent bumping the camera when pushing the shutter release)

Jeff-0 gave this great tip:

"When I hear the "thump" of the firework being launched I hit the trigger, and release when the firework has burned out."

Step 6: Conclusion

Use a low ISO and adjust the f-stop to get the shots you like. Play around with the manual settings to see what effect they have on the resulting image.

These same settings can be used to photograph lightning, too!

Have fun, and enjoy the summer.

- Brett @ SaskView

PS: thanks Instructable staff for featuring this!