10 Tips For Amazing Fireworks Photos

Australia day in Perth is always one of my favourite days to take out my camera. It is my one opportunity to take on the challenge of capturing beautiful photos of fireworks along the city skyline.

Here are my top 10 tips for capturing the fireworks on Australia Day.

  1. Use a camera with manual settings and functionality: I’ve almost always used a DSLR or Mirrorless camera to capture firework photos. However, that being said, you should still be able to capture the image using any camera with manual settings. You will need to be able to manually control the Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO and focus (more on focusing below). Set your shutter speed to around 4-10 seconds per shot. You can be a bit creative by using the bulb function. In order to keep the image’s exposure balanced, set your ISO to 100-200 and your aperture to around f7.1 or f8 (make sure you clean your lens beforehand).

  1. Have a sturdy tripod: A sturdy tripod is the second most important piece of equipment you will need to take photos of fireworks. Because your camera’s shutter will be open for a long period of time, tripods are used to reduce camera shake caused by your hand. If you do end up forgetting your tripod or even the plate that you attached to your camera, you can get around this by placing your camera on the ground or somewhere stable where it won’t fall.

  2. Know what settings to set your camera at Shoot in RAW and turn off the long exposure noise reduction feature: It’s always good to keep your original image as “RAW” as you can. You will always be able to reduce the amount of noise in your image later in post-production. Shooting in RAW will allow you to have more control over the edits that you do.

  3. Don’t use flash (unless necessary): This tip is usually hard for people to grasp why. This is because when you set your camera to auto, it will detect that the image will turn out too dark and the flash will pop up. When you end up viewing the image, it looks quite washed out. If you are wanting to do a portrait shot with fireworks as the background, you will need some sort of flash or lighting to light the subject. Keep in mind that the subject will need to remain still for the whole duration that the shutter is open.

  4. Use a wireless or remote shutter release: This is to remove all camera shake caused by your finger pressing down on the shutter. You may think that your finger doesn’t cause shake, but trust me when I say your finger will cause the camera to shake.

  5. Take time to frame your shot: There is a tendency to be really excited when you see the first firework explode right in front of your eyes. Don’t let your excitement cause you to start shooting photos without reviewing your first shot. Take your first shot, review the image and then reframe the image the way you want. You then know every other shot after that will be framed the way you wanted. These nothing worse than taking all these photos, and at the end of the night you find out that you pointed your camera too low and didn’t manage to capture the actual explosions themselves.

  6. Take time to focus: Just like point 6, use the time to reframe to also check the focus of your image. You have a bit of flexibility if your aperture is around f7.1 or f8 but I always try to focus my camera to just before infinity.

  7. Choose a good location: I highly recommend scouting out and securing your location early on. If people do end up blocking the path of your camera, always be kind and explain to them that you are just wanting them to be out of the shot and possibly show them where they can watch the fireworks from.

  8. Bring a stool: Though I’ve never remembered to bring one, I would recommend bringing a stool to sit on. Assuming the fact that you will be securing your spot quite early on, your legs may get tired and will need a rest. This also stops you from accidentally bumping the tripod, throwing your framing out of whack.

  9. Enjoy the show: Though it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, I believe that being in the moment and experiencing the event first hand cannot be replaced. Australia Day Fireworks only happen once a year and this is a great opportunity to enjoy the day with family and friends.

    -Matt