Tips for camera setup with fireworks
- Use a tripod because exposure times will be many seconds long.
- Set the camera to Manual exposure mode.
- Use a cable release with shutter speed set to BULB so you can start and stop the exposures without having to keep your hands on the camera.
- If you don’t have a cable release, set your shutter speed to values of 1 second or longer (4 to 10 seconds is usually what I do with my cable release). The longer exposure times create longer trails and capture more explosions in a single frame.
- Turn off auto focus and pre-focus your lens at a target approximately the same distance as the fireworks.
- Use a low ISO such as 100 or 200.
- Experiment with various apertures, but f/11 to f/16 are good starting points.
- You may even need to add a 1-3 stop neutral density filter or polarizer to help reduce the amount of incoming light.
- Start exposures before you see the firework explode so that you capture the entire explosion. If you start after you see them explode, you’ll capture just the tips of the trails with nothing in the middle.
When the fireworks start, your camera will be ready if you have followed the above tips. Start off with an aperture of about f/16. Before a firework launches, press and hold the cable release to begin the exposure. Continue holding it while the firework launches and explodes over a period of 4-10 seconds. Finally, release the button on the cable release to stop the exposure. Experiment by altering the f/stop and amount of time you press the cable release during exposures.