Easy How-To Shoot Fireworks, With Full Res Closeups!

All of the fireworks pictures I’m putting in this post should link to their full resolution images. I was amazed by some of the detail in these. Please don’t use them for anything commercial, without asking me first. This is mostly for people to make wallpapers or just marvel at the pretty eyecandy. 100% zoom is definitely reccomended for these. I’m not used to such smooth tones on photos from my XTi at 100% zoom! Pan around the photos and look at the detail, you don’t need to see the whole image to get the most of these ones!

I know I’m a little late with the fireworks as far as the blogs are concerned. Lynne and I were going to fireworks on the third, but they were postponed to the fifth, due to it apparently being monsoon season in Massachusetts. I carted out the Manfrotto (tripod) and had it set up about a foot and a half off the ground, aimed up, with the trusty 10-22 and my old friend the cable release.

Now… I’ve been going around and introducing myself to the virtual neighbors here in the wordpress photography community and apparently people are under the impression that taking pictures of fireworks is a hard thing. With most cameras, yes, but with a DSLR, tripod and cable release, I found it to be quite simple.

A few tips while in the field:

  • Tripod, Cable Release, Manual Exposure, RAW, RAW, RAW. These are all MANDATORY!! Don’t shoot in jpegs if you want a clean crisp image!!
  • ISO 100, Aperture of F11 or smaller
  • You’re probably going to want a wider lens than a longer one. This will depend greatly on where you’re sitting though.
  • Set your exposure compensation to over expose. Just a step or two, nothing too drastic. No more than +1
  • Fireworks are bright, and really long exposures end up being too bright. Try to stay under 10 seconds. I found my best shots were around 6 seconds.
  • Bring along a piece of black cardboard to hold in front of your camera to allow you to get a greater variance of fireworks. This is for people who want  >10 sec exposures. (I forgot to take one!)
  • Focus at infinity, or if you don’t have a lens that shows you that, focus on the furthest thing away from you, and leave your focusing in manual. Don’t touch it again 🙂

A few tips for working with your RAW file (All my work on these was done in Adobe Camera Raw, nothing in Photoshop proper)

  • KEEP YOUR CONTRAST AT 0! Use the clarity slider, or micro-contrast. Keep your detail and get enhanced tonal range!
  • Bring your exposure down a bit, and your test your recovery slider. Some shots will need more recovery than others.
  • Drag your blacks slider up. This is crucial, especially if you had any ground light polluting your shot!
  • Don’t go crazy with the vibrance and saturation. Vibrance can go higher than saturation, around 20-30 depending on how richly your camera caught the show. Saturation should never be more than 15. Subtly is the name of the game on these sliders.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY! In the details tab, turn off all noise reduction! Your black slider and 100 ISO will work as your noise removal. If you don’t do this, you’ll get weird artifacts around your firework streaks!

As I said, I didn’t find it too hard. So there you go. Easy steps to taking some eye busting fireworks shots. Not too hard with a little bit of knowledge and the right equipment. So long asyour focusing is good, you can keep an eye on what your camera’s outputting, and adjust on the fly.


7 Responses to “Easy How-To Shoot Fireworks, With Full Res Closeups!”

  1. Well, damnation, Andy! How’d ya do all those multiple images in Monotone template!! I’ve been using it for a year and after picture one, it won’t show another. So, you are good! And, these photos are fabulous as is the post helping us moaners and groaners photographers of fireworks! Great job.

    • Haha, well I tried just putting them all in, and it only gave me one. You have to use the ‘Gallery’ feature from the upload/insert image dialogue. Once you’re on the gallery tab there will be open boxes next to the “show” link. You put in numbers there for the order you want them to show up and there you go! You can even control what happens when people click on them.
      Glad you like the photos!

  2. wow
    i´m using one as wallpaper already
    thanks 😀

  3. gorgeous. i just shot fireworks for the first time this year. it was a bit messy, but i managed to get some great photos here and there. i definitely need more practice 🙂

    • This was actually my first time photographing fireworks too, but I had a good idea of the things I had to worry about and the equipment I’d need! With just a little bit of prep it’s actually quite easy!

  4. very nice fireworks bro..will try it later..thank you..

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