A great fireworks shot is one of those photographic bucket list kind of images. You gotta get at least one in your lifetime! If you didn’t snag one this past Canada Day or Independence Day, here are some tips for you!
Camera: Canon 5DMKII
Lens: 35mm f/1.4
Shutter Speed: 6.0sec
Mode: Taken in Bulb mode
This shot was taken this past Canada Day here in Edmonton, AB. We managed to find a great spot with a view of the city skyline (an element we knew we wanted in the final image), set up our tripod, and waited for the show to start (side note: see our article on the best affordable tripods).
How It was Shot:
If you checked out the settings you’ll have noticed that the shutter speed was very loooooooooong. That’s the trick to firework photos! You leave the shutter open, let the fireworks go off, and then close the shutter.
To set this up, use Bulb mode on your camera. A remote shutter release is a handy tool that will let you trigger the shutter without shaking the camera. The shutter will remain open for as long as you hold the remote release down.
For the fireworks I counted out various shutter speeds between 1-10 seconds to see how the results would change. I would check the LCD to see if I needed to hold down the shutter release for longer or shorter periods.
An important part of shooting fireworks is using a tripod. Since the shutter is open for a long time, you need to keep the camera steady to avoid any bluriness. If you don’t have a tripod, setting the camera on a table could work. But at those shutter speeds, hand holding will give you shaky photos.
The aperture was set at f/11, which gave enough depth of field so that the city skyline and the foreground are both in focus. While the fireworks were going off I actually used Live View (check to see if your camera has it!) and zoomed in to set focus on the fireworks themselves. Once it was good, I turned off auto focus so that the camera wouldn’t move out of focus.
A low ISO was used to keep noise low. Since I knew the shutter speed would be quite long, I’d need a low ISO to get a good exposure.
How It Was Processed:
Even fireworks can look more awesome with a wee bit of processing!
This image was shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom.
Fill light was increased to brighten up the crowd of people, and make them a more important part of the image.
Clarity was increased to add more pop to the fireworks.
Saturation was increased to bring the blue out of the night sky.
For some of the larger fireworks where the shutter speed was quite long some of the detail was blown out. In those cases exposure was decreased, and recovery was increased to bring back some detail.
Time spent processing: 2 minutes