5 Tips on Firework Photography

Bonfire Night

Well it’s Bonfire night tonight so how about capturing some amazing firework photos?



Here are a few tips on how to get the most from your Bonfire Night Photos


1 – Use a tripod…

You need to use a tripod to keep your camera steady. The photo above was a 15 second exposure – there’s no one in the world who can stay completely motionless for that long. If you move during the shot, it will cause the static objects (trees in this shot) to blur, and the lines the fireworks take will be wavy

2 – Use a wide angle lens

At bigger displays, the fireworks cover a very large area of the sky, so to make sure you get all of the action in the shot, it’s best to use a wide lens and hedge your bets. All the photos in this blog were taken with a 17-40mm lens on a full frame camera – and that’s “really wide”!

3 – Use a long exposure

I hinted at this in point 1 – but to get the most from fireworks, we want to record their movement. This is done by leaving the camera running for longer periods of time. Most DSLR cameras can shoot for up to 30 seconds – so I’d suggest you try shooting initially with these settings…


  • Manual Exposure Mode
  • ISO 100 or 200
  • F11
  • 15 seconds


That’s an opening gambit – give it a go before the fireworks start, see what the sky looks like. Ideally the sky should be dark so that when the fireworks appear, they will stand out. Try changing the shutter/aperture to see what effect it has on the sky.


4 – Use a small aperture

So you’ve got your tripod sorted, and are using longer exposures – so why use a small aperture?

Well the main reason is to kill the ambient light – you don’t usually want to see much of the ambient surroundings on bonfire night as its probably the back of a pub, a park, trees or something similarly uninteresting.

The other reason is that smaller apertures tend to give finer lines from the fireworks – wider apertures give fatter lines. So to get lots of  “fine detail”, small aperture is the way.

Fireworks are VERY VERY bright – so even at F22, which is a tiny little aperture, they will make an impression on your photograph


5 – Get some distance away if you can

Finally, I’d suggest getting a little bit away from the display area if you can – mainly because you get away from the crowds. There’s nothing worse than people kicking your tripod when you’re in the middle of getting that “perfect shot”.

Also you get a fuller view of the display when you move back a little – if you’re too close, you’re looking straight up and will miss some of the patterns the explosions form


A few final things to remember…

  • Wrap up warm – obviously
  • Take a brolly – wet lenses spoil the shots
  • Take lots of batteries – they discharge fast in the cold
  • Be wary of photographing areas with children in – its a sad sad state of affairs, but many people assume photographers have sinister intentions when photographing around children. The truth is that on a 15 second exposure, every person in the shot will be a blur, but explaining that to angry non-photographers can be an impossible task.
  • Prepare and practice your exposures well before the display starts, you don’t want to miss the action because you’ve got the wrong settings
  • Enjoy it – it only happens once a year!

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