Fireworks Photography: Tips For Capturing The Best 4th Of July Photos

hero fourth of july fireworks
It is that time of year again when families head out for Fourth of July festivities, to reach a climactic end with a panoramic view of fireworks exploding in the night sky. While many will want to just sit back and take in the magnificent view, others will want to capture them on a camera so they can look back on a fantastical evening.

July 4th typically means a day spent enjoying time with the family, cooking on the grill, and then everyone heading out just before dusk to catch the local fireworks show. For the many that will attempt to capture the light show in the sky with a digital camera, here are a few tips to help grab some gorgeous memories. Even if someone uses their smartphone, many of these tips will apply to them as well.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember to take with you to the fireworks show is a sturdy tripod. Being able to steady your camera will ensure a crisp and clear image, while shooting handheld may cause the image to become blurred. If you do plan to use a tripod, having a cable release, or a remote shutter release, will be of great assistance, as just touching the shutter button on the camera itself can cause your camera to move. Turning off vibration reduction in the camera settings is a good idea as well, as it usually does not play well with a tripod.

fireworks show people in foreground

Another great piece of equipment to have in your camera bag is a spare battery. If the fireworks last for an extended period of time, chances are you will be snapping a ton of images. Having a spare battery could mean being able to capture the grand finale or missing it altogether. The same goes for having a spare memory card. If someone is shooting in high-resolution and RAW at the same time, which is recommended, those files can take up a lot of space very quickly.

Prime lenses are great for capturing sharp and detailed imagery. However, having a wide-angle lens will be the best bet for being able to capture all of the fireworks and the scenery in the foreground. Those planning on using a zoom lens will want to use the widest angle available, as to capture more of the night sky, and then zoom in as desired from there.

Try composing images using different angles and with interesting backgrounds. Many will simply point their camera toward the sky and only capture the fireworks themselves, so think outside the box and be creative. Step back from the crowd and try and incorporate it into the image with the fireworks being the background. If there are buildings or a city skyline in the foreground, include those in some of the photos as well.

fireworks in a park

When it comes to camera settings, a good place to start is having the camera in manual mode with an ISO of 100 or whatever the lowest available is, with longer shutter speeds in the range of 1.5 to 4 seconds in order to capture more of the firework trails. F-stop will typically fall somewhere between f/8 to f/16, depending on location. So, start at f/8 and adjust from there as needed. Photographers will want to underexpose their images because fireworks are extremely bright. Keep in mind that all of these settings may need to be adjusted once the show starts, so be ready to adjust accordingly.

At the end of the day, having fun is the name of the game. Don't get overly stressed trying to capture the perfect image. Also, don't be afraid to experiment with framing images in a unique manner, or even blurring the fireworks for a dramatic effect. All of us at HotHardware wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July.