As we are heading towards Bonfire night I thought it was time to update and revise my blog post about photographing fireworks. This was previously published on the site last November.
Long exposure is of course the way to go, you want the shutter open for the duration of a firework burst. This will normally mean an exposure of several seconds depending on the duration of the burst. A lot of photographers tend to use “Bulb” mode and a cable release/remote trigger. Opening the shutter as the firework zooms into the sky and closing it at the end of it’s burst. I’ve found that setting a manual exposure of about 4sec also works reasonably well if the shutter is opened as fireworks zoom upwards. Whichever method you use, you will of course need to have your camera of a sturdy tripod.
Having looked at shutter speed what about ISO and aperture? Assuming you are shooting at ISO 100. Aperture settings for fireworks tend to be anything between f/8 and f/16 depending on brightness of the pyrotechnics. (Having said that the image on the right was taken on f7.1 – as I said, depends on the brightness of the fireworks!). Manual focus on infinity and away you go. Of course check the back of the camera for the first couple of images to make sure the camera is pointing at the right bit of sky and to make sure that the firework burst is not over exposing.
Have a great bonfire night!