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Tips for Taking Awesome Fireworks Pictures

The digital revolution has made photography a more accessible hobby for everyone. When it comes to taking awesome fireworks pictures, the use of digital cameras and smartphones is especially useful, as you can see your photos immediately and get rid of the bad shots.
Nevertheless, taking fantastic photos of fireworks that disappear so quickly and in the darkness of the night sky can still be a challenge and you’ll need to practice. To help you make the most of your photos, here are some essential tips for awesome fireworks pictures.

Amazing fireworks. Image courtesy of bayasaa, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.

Find the Right Settings

The most crucial part is to ensure your camera has the right settings in place. If you want a professional finish, make sure you use long exposure on your camera. On top of this, you might want to check if your camera (or indeed, smartphone) has a special setting for photographing fireworks, as this helps to find the right settings at once.
Although you should use long exposure, make sure you turn off the long exposure noise reduction. This isn’t a useful feature when taking photos of fireworks, as they disappear so quickly.
If you can, adjust the focus setting on infinity or other full manual mode. You don’t want the camera to try finding a focus, as this can end up in a blurry photo when it comes to fireworks. A good aperture is something between f/8 and f/16.

A professional camera can make taking photos easier. Image courtesy of Paul Reynolds, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr. 
Another essential setting to get right is the ISO setting. You should turn it low to about 100 or 200. You can find great tips for tinkering with your camera settings from websites like Amateur Photographer. Overall, opt to shoot fireworks in RAW mode.
Burst function is also a useful setting for photographing fireworks. You can find it from professional cameras, as well as smartphones, and it allows you to take multiple photos at once. This way you can photograph the whole journey of the firework from whizzing through the air to the final explosion.
In cameras, the burst mode is often achieved by playing with the bulb mode. By setting the camera in bulb mode, it will take a number of photos in quick succession, even if you are using long exposure.
For the bursts to work the best, you want to keep your camera as still as possible. Therefore using a tripod is often advised.
Whether you are using a camera or a smartphone, the biggest mistake is to have flash on! So, make sure to turn it off.

Don’t Forget to Process the Photos

You should also take advantage of post-processing to guarantee the best results. There are a number of great image editing programs out there. If you are prepared to spend a bit of money, then consider Adobe’s Lightroom. Many professional photographers vouch for Lightroom.
But it is possible to process your fireworks photos with free editing software as well. Gimp and PhoXo are among the most popular.

Amazing long exposure photo from the 4th of July celebrations. Image courtesy of Diana Robinson, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.
When using the software, make sure you open the photos in RAW editing mode. Darken your sky until it is slightly underexposed for a cool finish. Increase the overall clarity to create more contrast and to make the fireworks stand out.
For a quirky finish, try layering two different shots together. You’ll want to find photos that have the same exposure and similar position to guarantee the blending looks good.
When you are shooting fireworks, practice makes perfect. It’s a good idea to check out firework videos – you can find them on nearly all of the products on our website to know how the specific firework will explode – this ensures you focus on the right time. Although some people prefer taking shots all the way until the end of the display, some believe the best shots are taken at the start. The sky is often filled with smoke by the end of a big display, so shots at the start may look clearer.
Play with the settings and have fun!

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