Fireworks Photo Suggestions


TPF Noob!
Aug 24, 2014
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Good afternoon Nikon Folks.. Looking for advice in taking photos of fireworks.. any suggestions? I have a D5000, will use a tripod and remote shutter switch. 17-55 F2.8 Lens. Suggested settings? Thanks in advance
Camera on tripod. ISO 100. F/11. Open shutter, let the pyro bloom, close shutter.
Easy! Mount the camera on the tripod, turn off any VR, set your camera to manual focus, and f5.6. Shutter speed to 1.5 seconds to start. Set the unit up, preferably so that you can include some of the surroundings along with the blooms, lock your mirror up, focus to infinity, and you're off to the races.

I find that (depending on your distance from the launch point) a pair of binoculars is handy. Generally when you see the sparks of ignition at the launch tube, you should pause about 1 second and trip your shutter. Examine the first few shots and adjust shutter speed as required to obtain the amount of drape you like and... repeat as required.
Many people over-expose fireworks by using too high an ISO and too wide an aperture. Go with f/11 at ISO 100; if you want to go longer on time,you can use a black card held in front of the lens as a "shutter"; otherwise, with the shutter set to 15 second exposures or so, so you can catch 3 bursts per click.

Turn long exposure Noise Reduction to OFF!!! Make sure to leave some ROOM at the top of the frame for high-shot shells. Consider carefully the tall vs wide framing options.
I had a lot of luck with fireworks on the fourth of july this year.

I shot wide so that I wouldn't cut out any important parts of the explosion.
Focus to infanity
F10 ish
Iso 100
20-30 second exposures. This finale was really over exposed at these settings, but everything else was just about perfect.
I had good luck with f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 200. Tripod & remote, look for the shell launch & open shutter. It took a few shots to get the timing down. I shot wider than I needed to and cropped in post; I wasn't sure exactly where the blasts would be.

Maybe it has already been mentioned and I missed it this what I did in the past. I had a tripod you have to have one as the others said. Set up in a spot before the works start. Use manual mode, set iso to 100, f11, focus on something in the distance like the street light in the above post, auto focus may work for this if it doesn't do it yourself but when this is done make sure and switch OFF auto focus and leave it of for the fireworks.

As regards shutter speeds above 15 seconds is to long. You could use continuous release in conjunction with a slow shutter speed of around 3 to 5 and just hold the shutter button, good if you have a remote. There are flaws with that plan too though. or if you're handy like Derral do it the way he says.

But the important things are iso 100 f11 and turn off autofocus and slow shutter. Consider high and wide like Derral said. Be at a spot you like before people have a chance to crowd you out.
Thanks everyone.... The fireworks are Sunday Eve... I really appreciate the feedback... I'll try all the above..

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