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  • Writer's pictureGiovanni Rusconi

Photographing fireworks

Photographing fireworks

On very special occasions, human beings celebrate with the explosion of a thousand dust in the sky, spreading a sea of a thousand colors in the darkness of the night. Which photographer hasn't wanted to capture this wonderful play of glows? But usually these attempts are rather moderate, due to the poor technique of the photographer on duty, and the actual difficult technical conditions of shooting such images.

We therefore want to give some photography tips for beginners and professionals and show how to get the best fireworks snapshots.

Practice makes you technically perfect

To prepare for the big New Year's party and capture the exploding fountains of light in the sky for eternity, knowledge of some basic rules and photography practices is essential. You can test your theoretical knowledge already at home and bring sparkling candles or table fireworks with the help of our picture tips.

Important: the exposure time

The most important exercise is exposure time. Test what image effects you can achieve with different exposure times. Start at 1/125 seconds and then gradually increase to 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1 second and so on. In the subsequent shot comparison, you can quickly see which settings achieved the best effects.

The right lens and location

With a wide-angle lens you can capture a large portion of the sky and easily reproduce many of the fireworks explosions. If you can evaluate the trajectory of the missiles, you can also try to close in on the explosion with a telephoto lens, taking a shot of a detail of the firework.

Since shooting fireworks produces a lot of smoke, it is advisable to shoot as much as possible at the start of the fireworks. This is especially true in windless conditions. An alternative is also offered by elevated positions on a hill or tower. In particular, professionals will also appreciate the challenge of shooting fireworks against the backdrop of beautiful old town centers or castles. The correct recording position is particularly important.

A tripod is essential!

Of course, for long exposure times the need for a safe tripod is unavoidable. This is the only way to avoid blurry images and capture long lights with brilliant colors. A remote shutter also eliminates camera shake created by pressing the shutter button on the camera.

Exposition time

Even if you have already experimented with exposure times at home, you will quickly realize that the optimal exposure time does not exist. Depending on how long the light should be visible in the image, you need to set the exposure times. To collect as many impressions as possible and find out which effects you like best, you can play with the exposure time.

Continuous shooting mode

You often don't know when a rocket explodes and shows its colors. Serial images are obtained by taking many individual shots in a short time. To increase the chance of capturing the perfect image. With Photoshop, you can later combine individual snapshots into a beautiful collage.

Camera settings for high contrast shots

Iso or photosensitivity

Low ISO numbers are important for obtaining noise-free images. Therefore, you should choose the lowest possible photosensitivity to be able to enlarge the image later without loss of information.

Exposure compensation

For high-contrast images with the darkest night sky possible, exposure compensation should also be used. Despite the long exposure time, you can achieve great effects with low underexposure and illuminate the light optimally in a dark night sky.


A closed aperture ensures that as little stray light as possible falls into the camera. Good results are usually achieved with apertures between F10 and F16. If your images are too dark, you can also use an aperture value of F8.

Manual focus

To avoid focusing errors in fireworks, autofocus should be turned off. Set the manual focus ring to “infinity”, as more distant subjects are drawn sharply by the camera.

Post photos and collages

After taking photos, you can see at home which snapshots worked best. While magnificent explosions can also act as photos on their own, you don't necessarily have to delete the others. With a few tricks, various shots (even the less successful ones) can be combined into an impressive collage with Photoshop or other image processing programs. Don't leave photos on the computer: printing them is very satisfying!

Choose from three, five or even more fireworks photos to create an exciting image.

Use one of these images as a background onto which to copy the others. First, turn the sky into a deep black background (in Photoshop with toner correction) to better illuminate the fireworks. Just click the black pipette in the sky. Using the various layers, you can now insert the other images and put them together to create a successful composition.

With these little tricks you can photograph fireworks correctly and get professional results. A little bit of luck is always part of the photographer's profession, but even if everything doesn't work out perfectly right away – the next firework will surely come.

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