If you are one of those people that always has their camera along, ready to get that spontaneous, cool image, then this post is for you! For this upcoming holiday weekend I thought I’d share some cool tips that will help you capture the best possible images of those great 4th of July fireworks displays.


First things first… remember, fireworks go up, create their explosive magic, and then descend, so keep that cycle in mind as you think about how to capture your shot. Here are 5 basic tips to keep in mind:

1st Step - Arrive at your location in plenty of time to stake out a great position that will allow you to take obstruction-free photos.

2nd Step - Keep it steady! That’s right, “shake” is the enemy of great fireworks images, so make sure you have a rock-solid tripod with you.

3rd Step - To eliminate vibrations and shake, try using a wireless shutter release so you’re actually not handling the camera. If you don’t have one of these, set a delay of a couple of seconds for after you press the shutter release.

4th Step - Since it’s likely you’ll want to do some creative things in Photoshop with your images, make sure to shoot in RAW mode. This gives you a lot more data to work with.

5th Step - Noise reduction settings on a camera can create more problems than you can imagine, so for fireworks shots, turn it off. It’s best to clean up any residual noise in Photoshop.


Option 1 - Use a Preset Mode

Many of today’s cameras, especially newer DSLRs, have actual preset modes for “fireworks”, or “night images”, so if you’re unsure about manually changing your settings, go ahead and try one of these presets and see what kind of results they can deliver!

Option 2 - Go Manual

Simply leaving your camera set to a “Full Auto” mode will generate poor results, so if your equipment does not have a specific preset geared towards “fireworks”, with a few simple steps you can manually adjust your camera to capture great-looking images.

  • Set your camera to “Manual” mode
  • Set a low ISO, starting at 200 in order to prevent a lot of “noise” in your image
  • Set your shutter speed for 5 seconds
  • For the aperture, try f5.6 or even f8
  • Next, you’ll want to turn your auto-focus “off”, and then set to “infinity”, or scenery mode

So once you have these baseline setting ready, go ahead and try some shots. If the images appear too bright, reduce the shutter speed by 1-2 seconds, and also lower your ISO. If they are too dark, then you’ll need to increase your shutter speed, and also raise the ISO.

I wish you the best for a joyous and relaxing holiday weekend… and should you capture an amazing image of fireworks, feel free to tweet it to me @CurtisNewborn and we’ll share it across our networks!