How I Photograph Fireworks
There are many ways to photograph fireworks. Personally, I’ve used several different techniques. Last summer, I captured pictures of the fireworks display I attended. Using my SLR and a telephoto lens, I handheld the camera and captures several hundred images of fireworks launching and exploding. I got some cool images but I feel like I wasn’t present enough with my wife to enjoy her company.
So this year, if I capture any photos, my plan will be to setup my camera on a tripod and use an interval timer or a remote shutter release. This way I can be capturing images while my mind and body can be with my wife.
In the gallery above, I have taken some of the best captures from last years fireworks display, and Photoshopped them in to some of my favorite fine art photographs. You can see the originals of these images without fireworks in my Fine Art Portfolio.
How to Photograph Fireworks Using your Smartphone
If you’re trying to capture photographs of fireworks using your smart phone camera, you may find it frustrating to get the timing just right. You press the button to take a picture, and the camera hesitates a second or two and then fires. You attempt to compensate for this delay, but it delays inconsistently. It’s maddening. How can you get the timing right.
Well, for best results I recommend an SLR and a tripod. I also recommend putting your phone down and enjoying the show with your loved ones. But if you must capture pictures of the fireworks display, here’s what I can recommend about compensating for the timing.
The reason there is a delay between when you tell your phone to take the picture and when it actually captures it is because the camera is evaluating the scene to set the proper focus and exposure value. You can get around this by locking the focus and exposure value ahead of time.
Try this: with your camera app open, watch for a firework to detonate. When it explodes, press and hold its image on screen. This will lock the focus and exposure (you’ll likely see something like AF/EV Locked). Then, when the next firework explodes, you should find there is little to no delay in capture
Safety with Fireworks
In Arizona, there are currently severe fire restrictions. Due to the lack of rain and the extremely dry conditions, it is currently illegal to have an open flame anywhere within the state. The only fires allowed are those produced by a fuel source which can be turned off. This means that propane and butane powered grill are allowed, while campfires and charcoal grills are not.
So with the 4th of July approaching, I am concerned about the possibility of wildfires being started by careless celebration. Most of the “fireworks” for sale in my area do basically the same thing: shoot showers of sparks. Those sparks can ignite dry grasses and spread into a wildfire. So here are some tips for enjoying your spark showers safely:
- Establish an area for your fireworks – think concrete or asphalt
- Clear that area of any flammable debris – dry grass, leaves, small sticks
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
I am not a firefighter, a forest ranger, or a fire prevention spokes-bear. Therefore, I am not an authority on fire safety. I am an Eagle Scout, and a human adult with what I like to consider common sense. Please try to exercise some common sense this 4th.
Have fun, be safe, and share your fireworks pictures and stories in the comments below!