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How to photograph fireworks

As winter sets in there are lots of opportunities to capture fireworks, and this article shows you how to capture great shots of them. If you have Bulb mode on your camera your photos can look even more impressive.

How to photograph fireworks – quick tips

To photograph fireworks without the need for much equipment try the quick tips below:

1) Turn your Flash off

The first key thing to do, whichever device you’re using, is to turn your flash off.

2) Use a mode that allows control

If possible, change your camera or smartphone to a mode that allows you some control over settings.

3) Underexpose

As the scene in front of you is dark, you will need to tell the camera to underexpose, otherwise you’ll get a photo that is too bright for a night-time scene.

To do this apply ‘negative exposure compensation’. This option can appear as a -/+ on the screen and you need to set around -1 to -2 to begin experimenting with under exposure.

4) Use continuous shooting mode

Try using continuous shooting mode as it will help you get the right shot, even if the fireworks go off a moment before or after you expect.

5) Experiment with Manual Mode

If you own a camera which makes it possible to take full control, you can experiment with the Manual Mode.

6) Shutter speed, aperture and focus

Using Manual Mode, select a shutter speed of around 1/10th of a second and an aperture of f/8. Manually set your focus at the distance the fireworks are at.

7) Set a low ISO

Set your ISO low to begin with by finding the ISO setting in the menu and selecting ISO 200.

8) Keep it steady and use Image Stabilizer

It is best to use a tripod to keep the camera steady, but if you are holding the camera without one make sure you have turned on the Image Stabilizer on your lens if you have it - this will help to steady your shots.

9) Check your results and adjust

Take photos as the fireworks begin and check whether the results are bright enough. If they are too dark you can increase your ISO setting and if you want to capture longer light trails make your shutter speed longer but beware that this increases the risk of camera shake entering your photos. If the photos are too bright you can either decrease your ISO to 100 or set your lens aperture to f/11.

10) Get your fireworks pictures looking really impressive –using the bulb mode

Bulb mode enables you to control exactly when the shutter opens and closes, so you can create a long exposure that captures in detail events like firework displays or lightning strikes.

To find “bulb” mode make sure you are in manual mode, then adjust the shutter speed - after the 30 second setting you will see “bulb”- other cameras have the bulb mode available on the mode dial.

For long exposures you will need to keep the camera very still, so a tripod is required. Using a cable release or a remote control is very helpful too, as it helps remove extra camera shake. Instead of a cable release or remote control, if you have a Wi-Fi enabled camera you can also try our Camera Connect App which enables you to take the picture from your phone.

With a long exposure try an aperture of f/8 to f/16. Then set the lens to manual focus and focus according to how far the fireworks are away from you.

Try to capture either one or several bursts of fireworks in one shot and compare the difference.