The first time I photographed fireworks, I held my camera. Yeah. I actually got a couple cool shots. Sometimes, when you don’t have all the equipment you need, you just gotta do what you gotta do. But it’s better to have the right equipment and settings so you don’t have to try to compensate in editing later. Here are a few tips that I’ve found very helpful over the past couple years.
1. Tripod and a remote (or timer) are a MUST!
Trust me. When you watch fireworks, the last thing you want is to miss the moment because you are holding your phone, your camera, and watching through the lens. How will a tripod and remote/timer help? Your camera does the work without you.
A tripod and remote/timer are recommended because you will have your shutter open for a couple to a few seconds. Holding the camera gives you some extra shake, perfect for blurry fireworks. When you have your camera on a tripod and you have a remote to control shutter (or pop on a 2 second timer), you can just push a button and let the camera take the photo while you look at the pretty booms, and NOT through the lens!
2. Give priority to your shutter speed.
Your shutter speed will be the most important thing to catch fireworks. It will also bring in the most light. I found the sweet spot for shutter speed is anywhere from 4-6 seconds. This lets you catch lots of booms! But, watch out for the grand finale of fireworks. Given how much starts going off, you’ll start getting overexposed and smoky photos!
3. Remember ISO and aperture.
ISO should be at 100, aperture number should be high, as in around f/20. The higher the ISO, the more light. The lower the aperture number, the more light. Since you’ll have your shutter open, bringing in more light already, you don’t need help from the ISO and aperture in that department.
To recap. Use a tripod, utilize a remote (or you can even use a two second timer!), have your shutter speed from 4-6 seconds, ISO at 100, and aperture number high (around f/20). That’s it. Push the button and enjoy while your camera does the majority of the work!