The basics of photographing fireworks is down to knowing how to shoot a long exposure shot . I’m going to walk you through how to do this for either DSLR or iPhone (I’m sure there’s an android equivalent, I just don’t have access to one!).
Set Up and Equipment
Tripod – this is an essential tool in setting up your long exposure shot. If you don’t have a tripod, you can set up your camera on stable surface like the hood of a car, table or chair. If using a DSLR, I find it helpful to scrunch up a jacket or something a bit soft to nestle your camera into so it doesn’t slip around. The same thing goes for iPhones. Make sure the camera is stable and won’t slip around when you hit the shutter button to photograph fireworks. Here’s a tripod I have for my iPhone and the one I like for a beginner for DSLR.
Remote – This will allow you to not touch your camera’s shutter button when taking a shot which can cause camera shake. If you don’t have a remote, you could use your camera timer feature. This is problematic however because you never quite know when the fireworks will be starting. A remote will definitely help with this.
For DSLR users, shoot in Manual. You’re going to want to set your ISO low (100-200) which will help with the “noise” in night-time shots. Set your aperture to around f8 or f11 and a shutter speed of about 1/2 second (0″6) or 1 second (1″). Then set take a test shot to see how the exposure looks. If it’s far too dark and you’re not picking up any light, open up your aperture for this by going to smaller numbers like f5.6 (I know…it makes no sense, but the larger apertures are smaller numbers). The aperture acts like your pupil so will help let in more light as it opens up. The shutter speed shouldn’t be too slow because the fireworks are quite bright. If you’re not getting enough “light trials” with your fireworks, slow the shutter speed down and adjust your aperture for proper exposure for photographing fireworks. It’s a little dance to find the right settings!
For iPhone users, take your photos on Live Mode. This is my favorite little trick for lots of different reasons! But for fireworks, if you take a shot in Live mode and then when you’re look at the image in your photos, use your thumb to swipe up. It will give you an “Effects” menu which includes (but not limited to!), Long Exposure. Sigh. So exciting!