Here are a few, mostly common sense, fireworks photography tips for this Fourth of July.
A shot of fireworks against a dark sky can be pretty boring. Give your fireworks a point of reference, provide some context. I love photographing fireworks from a distance so I can include the city skyline or some other recognizable landmarks. You might also want to use a medium-to-wide zoom lens in order to capture a larger area of the scene. In the video, you’ll see some examples of how I used the fireworks reflections in the Hudson River to counterbalance the lights in the sky.
Use a tripod or brace your camera against a railing, post, or even a rock. Moving the camera during your exposure will create weird light trails even with the slightest movements. Night time fireworks photography requires relatively long exposures.
Use Manual Focus
Just set your lens to infinity and lock it there (turn off manual focus). Your camera might have a hard time finding focus in the dark, and you might miss some great shots if you’ve got autofocus enabled.
Camera Settings for Fireworks Photography
If you’re using a modern DSLR, you’ll likely be able to push your ISO up to 6400 or so and still get reasonable quality. Try manual shoot mode and f/8 or so and 1/15 of a second. Tweak your settings from there. You can also just try shooting in “P” mode and see if that gives you good results. I realize Program (P) mode is something most advanced photographers like to stay away from, but if it works, and you’d like to spend more time just enjoying the fireworks experience without fiddling with your camera, “P” mode isn’t a bad option. Manual settings (if you’re comfortable with them) will give you the opportunity to get more creative.