person taking photos of fireworks display

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason, and plot… I know of no reason why, in firework season, you won’t get a good shot. Not if you follow the handy firework photography tips in this article, anyway.

That’s right, since Bonfire Night is fast approaching, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about how to photograph fireworks. Read on to discover our 8 best firework photography tips and find out all the answers to your firework photography questions.


Fireworks photography tips

1. Take a tripod.

Using a tripod (and setting it up on even ground), you will get clearer, more in-focus pictures of the fireworks. Just make sure you get one that’s sturdy enough to support your camera to prevent wobbling or collapse.

Otherwise, you will end up with blurry photos, and maybe even a broken camera.


2. Use a low ISO.

To get the best firework photos on Guy Fawkes night, you will need to set your ISO to 100 or 200.

This is because, if you have a high ISO, there will be more noise in your pictures. You also find noise in blue images, and since you’ll be shooting at night, there will already be a lot of it about. So, lower your ISO to reduce the amount of interference in your photographs.


3. Turn off long exposure noise reduction.

You might think this is a funny thing for us to suggest, especially since we’ve just told you to turn the volume down. But unless you want to miss half of the display, you need to pay attention to this one!

When you use long exposure noise reduction, the camera takes two ‘pictures’ of equal length.

  1. On the first snap, the shutter opens, and you get a picture of the fireworks.
  2. On the second, the shutter remains closed, resulting in a blank, black frame.

The two frames are then merged to eliminate the noise from the original photograph. So far, so good, right?

Except for the fact that fireworks go off fast.

If you have a 10-second exposure, you don’t want to wait that long before viewing your image. If you’ve set anything up incorrectly, it’s better to know straight away, so you can adjust your camera and keep on snapping.

TL;DR, turn off your long exposure noise reduction.


4. Adjust your exposure and aperture settings.

It is important to think about the aperture when taking photographs of fireworks. Especially since the size of the aperture will control the light streaks.

Closing the aperture will make the light trails thinner. Opening it up could lead to overexposure. As a result, the optimum aperture for taking pictures of fireworks is between f5.6 - f8.


5. Turn off autofocus.

If AF is switched on, your camera will try to refocus the lens between every shot. This could lead to blurry images or missed photo opportunities - which is hardly ideal. So, we recommend turning the autofocus off.  Focus the lens manually instead.

Do this before the display starts. Then, once you’re set, you shouldn’t have to refocus your camera at all. Unless, of course, you want to take pictures of anything else, like the crowds, perhaps.


atmospheric photo of firework display over water, boats in the water

6. Take most of your photos at the beginning.

After a while, the sky’s going to start getting hazy, which will obscure your shots. For the cleanest firework pictures, take them as the display starts, before too much smoke gets in the air.


7. Location, location, location.

If you’re taking pictures of fireworks from your window or garden, this one’s less important. You’ve only got limited options anyway. But if you’re going to a public firework display, you really need to think about where’s the best place to set your tripod up.

Our advice is to get there early; people will start arriving a couple of hours in advance, even in cold weather, to nab the best spots.

You need to find one that’s got:

  • even ground
  • a good view
  • enough room for all your equipment


8. Time your shots.

The choice moment is when you hear the fireworks being released; this will give you the best chance of capturing the lights and colours in all their glory. Try experimenting with single shots vs. bursts and change up the number of frames each time to find out what gets you the best results.



What is the best shutter speed for fireworks?

The best shutter speed for fireworks is between 1-10 seconds. And this range still gives you a lot of room for experimentation.

For example, by slowing it down to a speed of 8-10 seconds, you’ll be able to capture all the drama of those brilliant, blazing trails of light against the dark sky. However, using a slow shutter speed also means you will capture more bursts in one go, which can lead to images looking overcrowded.

Play around with your shutter speed until you have achieved the right balance for you.


people photographing fireworks display from their smartphones

How do you shoot fireworks on your iPhone?

1. Use a tripod.

Just like when you’re taking photos on DSLR cameras, you need to use a tripod to keep your iPhone steady. Otherwise, you might end up with a blurry final image.

If you don’t have a tripod, you can use Focus or Burst Mode on your iPhone’s camera to increase your chances of getting a good picture.


2. Download Slow Shutter - or an app like it.

This app helps recreate the effect of a DSLR lens on your iPhone. And it does so for a fraction of the cost of a whole new camera.

It’s a great compromise for amateurs. However, if you’re serious about photography, we highly recommend investing in even a second hand digital camera.


3. Take timed photographs.

If you manually take each shot, you risk shaking your camera every time you click the shutter button. By using the timer, you are reducing the amount of movement. In turn, this should lead to you taking higher quality photographs.


Should you use flash when taking pictures of fireworks?

In a word, no.

Regardless of your device (DSLR, mirrorless camera, or smartphone) you should not use the flash when taking pictures of fireworks. Leaving the flash on will only illuminate objects in the foreground of your picture, taking away from the brilliance of the firework display.


Final words

Taking photographs of fireworks involves a fair bit of trial and error. We’ve given you some general guidelines on what to take with you and how to set up your camera, ready to get snapping. Even so, don’t feel like you need to stick rigidly to them.

Photography is meant to be experimental and fun; try to remember that when you are thinking about how to photograph fireworks this Bonfire Night. Whether for your own collection or in an attempt to dominate Instagram, we hope you enjoy your firework photography this year!