How to Photograph Fireworks (tutorial)


how to photograph fireworks pin

Since I only get to practice my firework photography skills a few times per year, I find myself frantically trying to remember my set up at the last minute each time.

So, to make life easier in the future, here is a recording of what I did to get the firework shots this Fourth of July and a few notes on improvements that I can try next time. (disclosure)

How to Photograph Fireworks: Equipment Needed

 How to Photograph Fireworks: Camera Setup

The secret to successful firework photography is leaving your shutter open a reeeeaaallly long time while simultaneously minimizing camera shake. Mystery solved!

Here’s how to do it:

Place the camera in BULB MODE. Since I shoot on a Canon, bulb mode is one of the choices on my settings wheel. Bulb Mode allows you to have complete control over how long the shutter remains open, allowing the camera to capture and record movement for longer periods of time. (HINT: this is how to shoot photos of streaky car lights too!)

Streaky car lights on the Main Street Bridge, Jacksonville, Florida


The problem with shooting in bulb mode–or having the shutter open for a long period of time–is the risk of camera shake. Any shake or vibration will cause the image to blur, whether it’s during hand-held shooting or by depressing the shutter release by hand while the camera is mounted on a tripod.

In order to get nice crisp photos while shooting in bulb mode, we MUST stabilize the camera. Even with the image stabilization technology available in lenses today, it’s necessary to invest in a tripod and remote shutter release. (HINT: when using a tripod mount and remote shutter release, remember to turn OFF image stabilization in your lens. The technology that prevents shake while the camera is moving can cause the image to blur when the camera is completely stable.)

How to Photograph Fireworks: Camera Settings

ISO: 200

f-stop: 12

Focus: infinity

Firework photography calls for an ISO around 200 because although the night sky is very dark, the fireworks themselves are super bright. A lower ISO yields better results. Before the fireworks display started, I set my camera to focus on infinity with an f-stop to 12 to allow for a wider field of focus.

My biggest complaint with my images this year is that I shot them from inside an office building, 17 floors up. While the bird’s eye view does provide an interesting angle, the reflection on the glass from inside the building seriously interfered with the quality of the images. No matter how much I healed and cloned in Lightroom, I can still see a few streaks and that is disappointing.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results this year but you be the judge! Take a look and let me know! And tell me…how was your firework photography this year?

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

View the entire gallery here:

or download here:

Jacksonville Fireworks Display: July 4, 2016

I really love Jacksonville’s fireworks displays!

This southern city shoots off their fireworks over the St. Johns River, right in the heart of downtown. With a back drop of glittering skyscrapers and bridges, I can’t help feeling like I could be in New York instead of Florida. The fireworks usually go up from three barges floated in on the river, and they use pyrotechnics to set the bridges aflame.

This year, the barges didn’t float in as they had in the past. The entire fireworks display was shot from the Acosta Bridge. It was a bit underwhelming, I’ll be honest.

But that’s because we’re spoiled at this point! 😉

This made things a little more fun for the boaters. Instead of closing the waterway to allow the barges through, the boaters had the opportunity to watch from the comfort of their personal watercraft.

Jacksonville fireworks July 2016
Boaters on the St. Johns River in front of Everbank Field


Hubbs has office space in one of Jacksonville’s downtown towers, which provides this photog awesome opportunities to practice her firework-capturing skills.

Here are the results from this year:

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016

And of course, I couldn’t leave without another photo of the iconic Main Street Bridge:

Jacksonville Fireworks July 2016
Jacksonville, Florida: Main Street Bridge


View the entire gallery here: or download here:

Jacksonville Thanksgiving Fireworks Display 2014

 Jacksonville puts on the best fireworks display ever, and especially the Thanksgiving weekend fireworks display is the one that takes the cake. The fourth of July is tame compared to Turkey Weekend in River City.

 It’s hard to believe that we have lived here 6 years already, but we have–and for 6 years we have watched the fireworks explode outside hubby’s sky rise office window and we have watched the pyrotechnics set the downtown bridges on fire. This year I had a camera that could shoot on a bulb setting, so I placed that baby on a tripod and thought I could make the magic happen.

Sadly, firework photography is harder than I thought it would be! My bridge shots were all really blurry!

 No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still think it’s pretty cool to have the fireworks launched from the river barges.

 I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend with many, many blessings and much to be thankful for! I love the holidays and am so looking forward to this new month leading up to Christmas and New Years.

To see Thanksgiving fireworks from years past, click [HERE].

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Jacksonville Thanksgiving Fireworks Display 2013

Each year we head downtown to watch the Thanksgiving fireworks display over the Saint Johns River in Jacksonville.

We’re lucky in that we get a bird’s eye view from my husband’s office in one of the towers.

Here are some photos of this year’s event.

(I especially like the ones of the fireworks bursting at eye level. How about you?)


This is one of the two fireworks barges they brought in this year.

Is it only in Jacksonville that fireworks get launched off of a boat?



The Main Street Bridge on fire!


The Acosta Bridge–


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