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15 Awesome Pictures Of Fireworks, Plus Tips For Producing Your Own

Fireworks can be one of the most frustrating things to (attempt to) photograph. For starters, the opportunity doesn't come around very often. This means that 1) You dont't have many chances to practice, and 2) If you screw up, you can't pop out the next day and try again!

But as far as photo opp's go, a night sky filled with hundreds of multi-coloured lights, exploding in all directions and leaving cool patterns behind them ranks up there with the best. So, if you're reading this because there's a display coming up in your city soon, my tips below should help you nail it. If you're just here to check out some cool fireworks pictures, scroll on down, because these are all pretty awesome...



By Tambako The Jaguar

I love how this image includes the smoke that always accompanies fireworks displays. As a rule of thumb, you'll want to keep smoke out of your shots. To do that, check the wind direction, and stand up-wind so it doesn't waft in your direction. Also be quick off the mark and shoot the first ones well, before smoke really starts to gather.

But back to this shot... this is obviously a climactic moment of the display, and I think the smoke adds to the sense of drama and excitement - you can almost hear the noise! The wide angle of view ensures that the smoke does not get in the way of the whole scene, which would have been detrimental.


Image by: Terry Grealey

Use a tripod. Really, you have to. I imagine you already know this! In order to use the slow shutter speeds necessary to capture the path of fireworks through the sky (without making them look wobbly, or blurring foreground features), you need a rock steady base.

The problem is, many of us attend fireworks displays at the end of a night. I can think of more than one New Year's Eve's that would not have been compatible with carrying a tripod around! To some extent you have to decide: Am I here 100% for social reasons, or can I get away with buggering off for a while to shoot on my own?


By Ally Mauro

Small works too! This sparkler shot looks really cool with a nice wide aperture (understanding depth of field). It reminds me of a picture I took of someone holding a dandelion and blowing away the feathers! The crisp, sharp sparks of light contrast well with the soft background. This is taken in broad daylight, with a hand-held camera; there are lots of different ways create pictures of fireworks!


By Raj Singh

Get clear of distractions. I've seen/taken lots of fireworks photos a bit like this one, but where there is a branch, or a telephone wire, or an annoying person's arm, cutting through the foreground. There are no such distractions here, which is why our eye is drawn straight to the magnificent display over the bridge. Find a really good spot, which will often be overlooking water, so that you have an uninterrupted view of proceedings. Oh, and also, it has to be said that red fireworks unfailingly have a big impact.


By Kathy Zhuang

Christmas, New Year, national holidays, bonfire night...all great opportunities. But keep an eye out for planned displays at sports stadiums too. They can look very cool, exploding with light from inside. If a cup final or something is taking place, get yourself a good position and take advantage of it. This shot of the Bird's Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics is a great example.

The well exposed foreground here also highlights a mistake we often tend to make when shooting at night: capturing what our eyes see. When it's dark, an exposure that records what you see with your eyes means you're going to have a dark photo! Sounds like a really daft mistake I know, but my first few pictures in a night time shoot are almost invariably underexposed! Be aware of it.

Exposing for the foreground can sometimes cause fireworks to become burnt out from the long an exposure. It's a careful balance, as you can see from the stadium fireworks above, which are on the cusp of being too bright. Err on the side of well exposed fireworks and underexposed foreground if needs be (plus create multiple exposures in Photoshop).


By Andrew E. Larsen

Use a remote release device. They're cheap, easy to use and essential. Don't delay buying one any longer, seriously! You'll be very surprised how much sharper long exposure photos are when you don't press the shutter release with your finger.

The alternative, using your camera's self-timer, is all well and good but ultimately makes taking pictures of fireworks pot luck. You have to hope that the end of the 5 or 10 second delay fortuitously coincides with the momet you want to shoot.

The brilliant picture above shows fireworks exploding in the air, and being released from the waterfront simultaneously. Good luck getting that with a self-timer!


By Rosana Prada

This awesome picture was shot on a comparatively (to most others in this collection) short exposure. As a result, there aren't any long light trails, and nor are there any visible foreground elements. But on the plus side, the effect is of an explosion of light against pitch blackness. Sometimes this can be quite boring (you'll probably have more misses than hits!), but when it works it's great. The orange against the black looks great here.


By Pixel Addict

Love this one. It's a close up of a 'micro-firework', which is an interesting and different angle on the subject. Presumably a sufficent focal length has been used to keep the photographer out of harm's way! But, even so, it seems a slightly hazardous subject, so be careful. The wide open aperture both enables a super fast shutter speed and creates some cool bokeh with the sparks on the left.


By Familymwr

As a photographer, I'm very jealous of anyone who made it into the Bird's Nest stadium for that incredible opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics. This image is a really unusual fireworks picture, capturing the display from below, with a fish-eye lens distorting the inside of the stadium.

I think it looks great, and the relatively short exposure again shows that there are some situations where you can probably get away with hand-holding. If you don't have tripod with you, don't be afraid to ramp up the ISO speed; a bit of noise never killed anyone, whilst blurry shots are always destined to be deleted.


By Greg VDB

Scout your location in advance. This is a must do if you want to really capture some great pictures of fireworks. So, if you know exactly where the display will be taking place, look out for potential foregrounds that will enhance your photos. Even though it's dark, and you can't see the foreground very well, it will be more visible in your picture. Remember, don't capture what you see with your eyes in night photos, because that's bugger all.


By Nathalielaure

Make other spectators the main event. This is a killer tip for all photography that involves an event of some kind. The first guy to clock onto it was Henri Cartier-Bresson, when he photographed the crowd at Gandhi's funeral, more than the procession/pyre itself. Clever idea, because that's where all the emotion is.

This silhouette is great (if a little cheesy!) and really nicely composed. But it doesn't have to be a silhouette; you could create a clear exposure of crowds gasping at the display (wide aperture and higher ISO speed needed to avoid motion blur)


By Bob Jagendorf

This is a wonderful, colourful fireworks image. It demonstrates how the normal rules of composition don't just go out of the window because a) it's dark, and b) the fireworks are the main attraction. The use of a lead-in line is very effective here, leading the viewer straight to the fireworks.

Although it's an awesome shot, I think the horizon may be slightly wonky. I've taken so many pictures of fireworks, and night photos in general, where the horizon is annoyingly skew. Easy mistake to make, because it's hard to see, so take extra care and check your last shot on the LCD. (positioning the horizon in photos)


By Feliciano Guimares

Bokeh! My favourite form of bokeh (a word which just refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus parts of an image) is bright colourful lights. I sometimes hunt around for cool background lights to use, but fireworks have got to be the ultimate! The soft, rounded orbs in this image look wonderful, and are an unusual slant on the average firework pic. An in focus foreground might improve it though. (bokeh tips).


By Mr Majoo ICU

So far on this list there've been pictures of fireworks from below, ground-level, outside/inside a stadium, close-up, on long and short for one taken from above! Goodness knows how the guy found this location, but good on him for scouting it out because the result is fantastic!

I love how these fireworks tower over the whole city, which we can see stretching off in the background. The traffic lines on the left are a cool touch, bringing a sense of depth to the scene.


By Sadie Hernandez

Painting with light using sparklers! So we've seen the micro-firework (8) and the sparkler picture taken with a wide aperture (3), here's another cool idea. Try using sparklers for a unique painting with light effect. Set-up your camera on a tripod and set it to the self-timer, whilst you get in position with the sparkler. Create patterns in the air, like the angel wings here, and keep your body moving, so that you leave minimal trace on the sensor.

Have you found that any particular techniques have helped you a lot when taking pictures of fireworks? Use the comments to share. Another cool subject which makes use of similar techniques is lightning photography. Check out this handy guide to lightning photography I recently discovered on another site.

The Photography Crash Course: 17 Short Lessons To Camera Mastery

Where Next?

10 Killer Night Photography Tips

How To Take Long Exposure Photos

A Beginner's Primer On ISO Speeds

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