When you are shooting fireworks, there are few camera settings you have to remember. Even though there are no hard and fast rules, I’m trying to cover pretty standard settings and things to remember before shooting fireworks. Once you get the idea you can play around and change your requirements like Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO etc. To make it simple, I am taking Nikon D90 as a reference camera for menu settings and options. If you are using other DSLR than D90, you might have to go to different menu options for the settings but the theory is same for almost every DSLR camera.
Things to remember before shooting fireworks
First of all you have to get into fireworks place at least 30 minutes prior to setup your camera on tripod and to choose best location to view fireworks. Very close to the fireworks is also not good for taking pictures. If you are too close, you might get lots of smoke which is coming out of the fireworks in your picture. And most importantly if you are planning to shoot fireworks without tripod, you are probably wasting your time.
Camera Settings for Nikon D90
1. Turn your Mode dial into Manual Mode (M).
2. Set the shutter speed 8-12 sec and your aperture f12-f14 to cover wide range. It will let camera sensor to grab more light and you will get clear view of fireworks.
3. Set your lens focus into Manual Focus. Auto-focus is not good idea when you are trying to shoot long distance subject which is moving fast.
4. Use wired/wireless remote control to trigger the shutter release button to prevent camera shake. If you don’t have remote control for that moment, here is a trick: you can put the shutter release option into self timer and set the timer for 2 sec. That will trigger shutter release button in 2 seconds after you pressed it and you can avoid camera shake.
Here is one of the fireworks shot I took on July 4th in Washington DC. Despite of being too close to fireworks, it came out OK to me.
Focal Length – 18mm Aperture – f/20 Exposure – 2 sec ISO – 200
In this picture I set exposure 2 sec because I was so closed to the fireworks and they fired too many at the same time and as a result I got overexposed fireworks with 8 sec exposure time. You can always start with recommended settings and then play around as you get the result.