Shooting Fireworks (With a Camera)

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Crayaco, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. With July 4th coming up, was wondering how best to shoot fireworks. Thought maybe we could share different techniques, lens used, camera settings, etc.

    I have searched and have a few ideas, but would like to hear from the rest who have shot fireworks.

    Also please post any Fireworks pics you have.

    Thanks in advance for the input.

    If this is in the wrong forum please move it.

  2. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    Oooh. I want to know as well. I think I might actually want to go to a fireworks show this year.

  3. Ok - Here are a few pics from last year.

    This was my first time to do this so these pics are just ok and were taken with my Olympus 2100.

    A couple are at a show we went to see and a couple of them are from us shooting some off after the show at a friends house.

    Basically, I used a tripod, a slow shutter speed 2-4 seconds, and a f-stop somewhere in the f4 or f5 or so. One of the biggest problems I had was we were actually to close to the action. I think this year if I go to a show I will try to be a little farther away. And of course, if you can get the fireworks and a nice background(lake, pavillion, or some other cool lighted structure) then they look pretty cool. I am sure there are others that got some better one's than these. Maybe I will this year?

    3 from the show

    Friend shooting off a bottle rocket

    Friend shooting (holding) a roman candle

    Friend shooting off I think a roman candle and wearing flashlight glasses
  4. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  5. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    Sweet!!!!! Our fireworks show is displayed over a nice creek area. That might make for some interesting mirror shots.

  6. Great pics of the fireworks. I can relax on my patio and see the fireworks on the signature mountain over Salida.

    Keep it up guys and give us the technical data too.
  7. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  8. linm


    May 3, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    How about from a boat? This year, I will be in a small boat out on a lake. There will be room for a Tripod but is that best? On another Forum it was suggested that from a Monopod in a boat was the best. I'm thinking of using my 12-24mm.
  9. Monty, yes perhaps a little overexposed and just a little to much post processing as well. Hopefully this year I can get a little better shots...

    Last year I did learn some things.

    If you are going to a show just to watch the natural thing to do is try to get close as possible. That is what I did. I was close as possible and had to shoot at 75-85 degress into the sky. I was wide angle as possible on my camera but, very hard to get good framing as most of the fireworks were straight above our heads. In my opinion it was just too close. And too late to really move anywhere else because it was very crowded.

    This year, I am going to try to find a better vantage point such that I get both the fireworks and perhaps a better background for framing and point of reference in the pics. And of your lucky enough where you can get a nice spot across from the show with some water (pond, lake, etc) and get both the fireworks and the relections in the water those I think make really good shots.

    And since I will be using a VR lense this year, I believe I should turn off the VR function while shooting if am using a tripod?

    So maybe after the 4th we will see a bunch of really cool fireworks shots from everybody?
  10. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Great thread everyone...I was planning on shooting some fireworks this year as well.

    Lin, if the boat is moving, a long exposure might have blurry results.

    Vinod did one heck of a job with his captures...great colors, tack sharp, nice composition!!!

    Should be some great fireworks images on the Cafe next week.
  11. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    Typically, a tripod, cable release and lots of film or memory. The lens really depends on the distance to the show and what you want to capture. I always prefer a wider zoom, that way I can get multiple bursts in the same frame. Old rule of thumb, f8-11 with ISO 100. As said above, f16 will give a little more color to the bursts. Keep the shutter open long enough to get what you want. The larger f stop numbers (smaller opening) will almost insure a dark background for several seconds exposure. Nice thing with digital, try something, look at the result and make changes as needed!
  12. Yep, don't forget to factor in your ISO setting -- most of us would be at ISO200 w/ our Nikon DSLRs. :D I'm not much for shooting fireworks, but f/16 at ISO200 sounds about right (as shown in Vinod's shot) -- that would be equiv to f/11 at ISO100.

    And oh, probably not worth trying on a boat in the waters as it's just too unsteady for the long-ish exposures you'll want.

  13. biggstr6


    Apr 26, 2005
    I used to set it on bulb and use a piece of card board to cover the lense between booms for multiple explosions on one frame.

    Havent really done any with digital
  14. dfthompson

    dfthompson Guest

    As some of the others have said, a good starting point exposure is 4 sec, f16 at ISO 160. Scene brightness can vary quite a bit from burst to burst as I've tried to show with these images. All of these were shot last night with these settings from a parking lot across the street from Disneyland, Anaheim using a D2x and 28-70 AFS lens set to manual focus at infinity. This was a resonable distance away, requiring about a 45 deg. upward tilt from horizontal. These were shot in raw, cropped and converted to jpg in NC without any other post processing.





  15. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi lin-

    i tried that a couple of years ago. went with my family on a dinner cruise on the sf bay. we had a great vantage point for the fireworks, but the rocking of the boat pretty much made all the photos blurry given the long exposure needed to capture the fireworks.


  16. linm


    May 3, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Sigh...Too bad because as you said, I anticipate a great vantage point of the show!
  17. marc

    marc Guest

    i just got back from a trip, where i was able to shoot fireworks, a very good and rather long show.

    how close you are is not that important, rather the lens you use is more important.

    i shot with, 24-120vr , d2x, iso 100

    set on tripod, with cable release, mirror up.

    shoot verticle if you want to get he whole burst and some buildings or landmarks

    i set up camera on tripod, with cable and put camera in mirror lock mode.

    what this does is , when you push on release of cable first time the mirror will lock up, next push again and camera will focus and release shutter.

    you need to experiment with your exposure, i used af-c, focus priority
    manual mode, shutter 3 or 4 seconds, aperture around 7, 8, 9

    it will depend on the metering, once you take a couple of shots and use the LCD, youcan make some minor adjustments, and then shoot away.

    it was fun and the photos were good.

    have a greatt ime