If you’re heading out to a fireworks display, here’s my guide to capturing fireworks.



  1. Use a tripod – you’re going to need a slow shutter speed. You just cannot do it hand held.
  2. Turn of auto ISO and shoot at 100 – 200 ISO. You want a nice clear shot, not one full of noise.
  3. Shoot in manual focus. Guess what, it’s going to be night time and your auto focus is not going to be able to focus on anything quick enough. You’ll want your focus set to on, or near infinity (that’s the symbol on the lens that looks like a 8 on it’s side)
  4. Zoom in and get a nice crop on the fireworks. A wide shot can also look great, but a tight shot of the star trails looks amazing.
  5. Shoot around F/11 to F/16, you’re going to need a good depth of field.
  6. Use a cable release or remote shutter. You need to be able to know when the fireworks are launched, if you’re peering through a viewfinder you won’t know until it’s too late. Using a remote shutter also allows you not to miss the actual fireworks by being stuck behind a camera.
  7. You’ll probably want a a shutter speed of somewhere between 2 and 4 seconds. If you camera has ‘bulb mode’ use that (most DSLR do). Bulb mode holds the shutter open for as long as you hold down the button.
  8. Timing – this is not a tricky as it sounds. – I’ve found that starting the shot on the bang or as the rocket has reached the top of its height is about the time to hold down the shutter…keep it held down until the star trails have filled the sky. You may need to practice a bit, but this I have found works best.
  9. Finally, have fun!

taken at the Plymouth national fireworks competition


Share This