How to Take Awesome Fireworks Photos Tonight!


Hi Gang, and Happy 4th!

Today is a big holiday for us here in the US –  it’s Independence Day – a day where Americans celebrate their independence from England (around 240 years ago), but also from Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton (two of England’s finest, but still worth keeping at a safe distance).

We celebrate by gorging ourselves with hot dogs, hamburgers, and mountains of potato chips before settling into a lawn chair with an ice cold beer to watch a glorious fireworks display using fireworks made in China. We also use the word “chips” liberally without anyone ever even once thinking we’re referring to French Fries. ;-)

If you’re thinking of photographing your local fireworks display tonight, you might want to check out an article I wrote ColaCola where I take you through the recipe for how to make Awesome Fireworks photos (It’s a step-by-step article – just follow the recipe and ya can’t miss).

Here’s the link.

However, I would add four things to that article for the more serious photography crowd here on my blog. They are:

1. Set your focus to infinity (This isn’t critical, but if your lens can do it, why not). The fireworks are so bright you can use just regular ol’ auto focus for the most part, but if you have a lens that has a distance scale window on the top of your lens barrel; first turn off your auto focus (right on the lens –  switch it to off), then rotate the focus ring on your lens until you see the Infinity symbol [it looks like the number 8 lying on its side], then turn it back just a smidge, so you’re almost right on the infinity symbol. Again, you don’t have to do this, but it might make things a bit easier.

 2. A couple of years ago @SuzanMcEvoy (one of my followers over on my Twitter page) recommended also switching your White Balance to Tungsten and it works really well (Thanks Susan for the tip).

3. Lightroom (and Photoshop’s) Dehaze feature works wonders on the extraneous smoke in the background, so make sure you give it a try. It’s like it was made for fireworks shots.

4. This one probably goes without saying, but you’re on a tripod so use your lowest ISO setting for the cleanest shots.

Hope you all have a safe, happy 4th of July as we celebrate our nation’s physical distance, in miles and magnitude, from Glyn and Dave which makes it truly a day worth celebrating. ;-)



      1. me gran’mum was from Torquay…and her fathers’ family near Lands End…

        My favorite english food are Cornish Pastys and Yorkshire puddings…

        Enjoy your holiday Mr Kelby…

  1. I didn’t have a cable release or a wireless remote for my Canon A-1, so I used the self timer to eliminate shake. I now own a cable release and a wireless remote for my A-1 and New F-1.

      1. I used a tripod for my fireworks photography, but there was some action or motion on the platform. That was probably because I was on a pontoon boat on a big lake and the waves and the wind didn’t make for a steady platform.

  2. Hi Scott, not the 4th of July but the bastille day in France and as I know you love France I thought it is okay to post it here. Have never done a fireworks shot, but as this year was special (first time since 15 years that they attached the firework to the tower, not launching it from the open field in front as usual) I gave it a try . Got the best position ever thanks to a friend .. a boat on the Seine river directly in front of the Tour. Just following your blog post & applied all your settings .. the 4 sec is magic .. I am very HAPPY with the results thanks to your advice and keep up the great work . Greetings from Paris

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