Fireworks Photography Settings – Steps & Guidelines

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Fireworks Photography

Many people like to watch the amazing view of fireworks; they are a spectacle and full of various colors and shapes. Obviously, most of us as a photographer is interested in capturing the amazing event and memorizing it in beautiful photos.

To vastly increase your chances of success, I hope this post of Fireworks photography settings can be of great help to you in shooting fascinated photos, hopefully, there will be no chance for over or underexposed frames, out of focus, etc.

Fireworks photography

Before starting the steps and guidelines, I would like to remind you that shooting fireworks need a long shutter speed setting; otherwise, you will get the fireworks in your photo as many dots of light. Surely you don’t want that. Surely you want those long tail trails in your photo that make fireworks photos looks dramatic.

The following are steps and guidelines to make your fireworks photography successful.

Fireworks photography settings – Steps & Guidelines

1) Be at the right location and at the right time.

It is a very good idea that you go to the shooting place early enough to arrange your equipment’s, choose the appropriate place, making sure that there aren’t any obstacles. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of smoke, so avoid shooting from the downwind position because the smoke will be between you and the fireworks.

2) Shoot most of your photos at the start of the show.

As the show continues, the sky will be full of smoke and it is not pretty at all. The first shoots always the sharpest ones.

3) You must use a tripod and remote shutter release.

Because you are going to shoot a long shutter speed photo, it is very important to use a sturdy tripod to ensure that your camera is held firmly in position, and there is no chance of sinking, tipping or wobbling. As you get your camera on the tripod; make sure to level it, so the horizon is straight. Furthermore, to eliminate camera shake, use a remote shutter release.

4) Camera lenses.

Most camera lenses will work well as long as they have the right focal length. Also, most camera lenses have good optical quality at f/8 through f/16 apertures, which are typically used in fireworks photography.

5) Setting Aperture.

The light emitted from a firework is quite bright, so choose small or medium range; f/8  to f/16, it will give reasonably good results.

6) Setting Shutter Speed.

Choose something between 3 to 10 seconds, surely you need to take some trial shots to evaluate the suitable shutter speed. If it seems that you need a longer time, consider switching to bulb mode and just opening and closing the shutter manually when you feel you captured enough bursts in one image.

7) Set ISO

To get a clear photo, with less noise stick with low ISO, say ISO 100 will be fine enough.

8) Focal Length.

Since it is hard to farm the photo in the right place of the sky and at the right time, you should consider shooting at a wide focal length. Assuming you are at a fair long distance away from fireworks, you shouldn’t have to refocus at all, unless you change the view angle or view something else. After focusing, remember to turn off AF.

Remember to leave enough room in your frame for the anticipated height of the fireworks. It is a matter of trial and error, adjust as necessary.

9) Switch off your flash.

Shooting with flash will have no effect at all because it only reaches just a few meters away. It only tricks your camera into thinking it needs a short exposure time, so remember to turn it off.

10) Shoot, Review & Adjust.

Take a few shots at the start of the show, quickly check and review them, adjust the setting if needed. It is also important that you occasionally monitor your shots to ensure you are not taking a completely bad batch.

11) Be Creative.

Try getting some additional subjects in your fireworks photos. For example, a large landmark building looks great in fireworks photos. Adding a person or a group of people to the frame can turn the photo into a silhouette fireworks photo.


Getting great-looking fireworks photos is a matter of good planning and a lot of trial and error practice. I hope you try out the above setting and do not forget to share your photos and your experiments with us.

You may check this video:

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions just post below & I will be happy to answer you.

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  • These were very helpful, I don’t know what it is about fireworks that make us want to capture them so badly – maybe the movement, colors, the fact that they exist only for a few seconds?

    I love that you emphasize using a tripod – it seems most beginning photographers want to rely only on the power of their camera and not the other “more traditional” tools available to them. You’ve outlined a process in an easy to digest way but still emphasized that it takes effort and practice to really make great pictures.

    • Yeah, I know that shooting fireworks is a little bit tricky, anyway hope the articles guides you to take a great shots, Good luck :

  • I assumed there would be a very specific technique to snapping a good shot of a firework display. It sounds like you’ve figured out exactly what that technique composes of!

    That photo of the fireworks and lights above the water is amazing! I love the composition and how the water reflects all the beautiful colour and light above.

    I can’t wait to get my DSLR camera! I am still trying to decide which one to get though.


  • These are some amazing tips, thank you! I always have trouble capturing fireworks and I was not aware of some of these pointers. I especially like the one about shooting at the start of the show. It seems so simple and the least technical but it really does make a huge difference! Do you have any posts about taking pictures of the moon?

    • Hello, Philip thanks for passing by, glad that you liked the post, yeah I wrote an article about how to capture the moon you can check it from here.

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