First-time Fireworks!

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  James Staddon 8 months, 1 week ago.

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    Lydia Bennett

    This past Saturday, our family went to watch fireworks at our town’s fall festival. My sister and brother-in-law just got me a tripod for my birthday, and this was my first use of it! It was a somewhat on-the-spot decision to go watch the fireworks, so I didn’t have time to research how do you take pictures of fireworks anyways?. As we rode over there, I thought through settings I should try to use, etc. I laughed to my sister that it would probably be a disaster and I wouldn’t get any good pics, but oh well that’s ok: I’d post my results, good or bad, on Lenspiration and learn how to do it better next time!

    Well, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually got some decent shots (at least I think they’re decent… we’ll see if y’all agree… 🙂 ) I used the 2-sec timer because I don’t have a remote, so I just tried to time my shots well.

    The first pic is the first one that I took once I figured out where in the sky the fireworks were actually going to be. The funny-looking red one is just one that I thought looked interesting but was unsure how to crop it (it is currently cropped in quite a bit). All the other photos are un-edited, except the last one is slightly cropped.

    So… what did I do right? What was wrong? What do you like? Or dislike? Things to bear in mind next time?

    Camera: Nikon D3100

    18-55mm lens, Manual focus
    ISO: 100
    Aperture: f/9, f/13 & f/20
    Shutterspeed: 8 sec. for 1st two, 13 sec for others


    Eliana Franzenburg

    @bennett-family Wow! Those are amazingly good for a first attempt! To be honest I’m quite jealous, my first time photographing fireworks was a big flop…

    The first two are my favorites but with fireworks there are so many ways to capture the beauty I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to photograph them. Maybe if possible zoom out more so you’re more likely to get the whole thing in frame. On the third photo I like how the smoke looks like it’s glowing! Again great job!

    One thing I’ve found is f/16 with an ISO of 200 works really well for this subject.
    I would encourage you to get a remote shutter release you can get them quite cheap on
    One thing I discovered is to have a piece of cardboard and start the exposure, cover the lens and wait for the firework you want and that also makes it so you are more likely to get more than one burst in a frame. Does that make sense? I’m not very good at explaining things… 🙂


    Lydia Bennett

    Thanks, @elianafranzenburg! Next time, I’ll make sure to set up in the open field at the park; as it was, I was in the midst of the crowd with tents all over the place, so I was trying to exclude that in the photos :). And yes, that makes sense about the cardboard… good idea. I started a forum string on Q&A about the remote shutter release – that would be neat to have!


    James Staddon

    Wow! Those are stunning! Yeah, you did great. In a nutshell:

    ISO = how bright you want the sky/surroundings to be
    Aperture = how thick you want the lines in the fireworks
    Shutter speed = how much of the firework shows up, or how many fireworks you want in the frame

    You can use Bulb mode and a shutter release to increase precision.


    Lydia Bennett

    Thanks, James – that’s super helpful and good to know!


    James Staddon

    And by the way, here’s the webinar where I talked about these pictures a little bit more:

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