Sydney's new year's eve fireworks.

26 Smart Ways to Photograph Fireworks Like a Pro

Discover expert techniques to capture fireworks brilliantly, turning fleeting moments into mesmerizing photographic masterpieces.

Whether you’re a budding photographer or a seasoned expert, learning how to photograph fireworks like a pro requires patience, experience, and a few handy tips.

In this guide, I’ll provide 26 tips for taking the best fireworks photographs ever, so let’s dig in.

Fireworks Photography Tips Summary

  • Stabilize with a sturdy tripod.
  • Use a cable release or wireless remote to avoid camera shake.
  • Activate Long Exposure Noise Reduction.
  • Shoot in highest resolution, preferably RAW.
  • Opt for low ISO around 200.
  • Start with an aperture of f/11.
  • Use Bulb (B) mode for shutter control; capture full bursts or multiple bursts in one shot.
  • Disable autofocus; manually set focus to infinity.
  • Scout location in advance for an unobstructed view.
  • Factor in wind direction to minimize smoke interference.
  • Add foreground elements for depth and context.
  • Have extra batteries on hand for long exposures.

How to Photograph Fireworks Like a Pro

The best location for fireworks photos

A colorful fireworks display over a body of water.

There’s a lot to like about fireworks — they typically are accompanied by a celebration with friends and family, a day off work, and a stunning visual masterpiece.

So naturally, you’d want to photograph them for both sentimental and aesthetic reasons! And it all starts with picking the perfect location.

Many suburban families gather around with neighbors and watch the spectacle from their backyards, but don’t feel limited to a yard.

Some of the best locations to see and capture fireworks bursts include areas without obstructions, such as a rooftop bar, a vast lakeside property, or a local bridge or park.

Camera settings to use for pictures of fireworks

A person is taking a picture with a camera.

Adjusting your camera settings appropriately is critical in capturing shooting fireworks in action.

According to the pros at Nikon, the best aperture for fireworks is f/11.

So at least start there and experiment because mid-range apertures will produce the best results!

Using the bulb setting, if your camera has one, is preferred when photographing fireworks.

If you don’t, many photographers have different opinions here!

Some like to start between 3-5 seconds and others like to start longer and gradually reduce shutter speed.

I recommend starting with a shutter speed of 1/10, which is ideal for long exposures in low-light scenarios.

The best ISO when photographing fireworks will fall on the lower end, like 100 or 200, but some prefer to start at 400 and take a few shots before working their way down.

Once you set your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, you’ll be ready to capture the fireworks bursts!

Drone camera settings for fireworks photos

A white drone flying over a forest.

If you want to photograph fireworks with your drone, you’ll want to adjust the drone itself first, starting by turning the lights off.

The LEDs at the front may add extra glare and a glow from underneath that can totally obliterate what would otherwise be a great shot.

However, be sure you can still see and track your drone after adjustments.

You’ll also want to turn off sensors that won’t work in dark conditions, such as avoidance sensors.

In terms of camera settings, you’ll want to abide by the recommendations I already gave, such as selecting a slow shutter speed.

A wide angle zoom lens is best in this case when shooting fireworks, and be sure to lock your white balance in so it stays in daylight mode.

For optimal results, you should also set the focus to manual from the ground before testing things out with a nearby light source like a street light.

Best lens for fireworks photography

A person holding a camera lens in their hand.

A wide angle lens is hands down the best choice when photographing fireworks.

I also agree with the industry pros at Nikon that an 18-140mm with a zoom lens works well for beautiful fireworks images.

And if you don’t have a wide angle lens, a telephoto zoom lens will perform better than a prime lens when photographing fireworks.

A telephoto zoom lens can be useful if you’re stuck right at the back of the fireworks show, or if you’re not actually attending the display.

If you don’t have something to focus on in your foreground, the infinity symbol on your lens barrel is your best friend.

Foreground subjects are important since they’ll add depth and context to your fireworks photography.

Best equipment for a fireworks photo

A photo of a sunset with a camera on a tripod in front of a pond.

You don’t need a ton of gear when shooting fireworks, but the benefits of using a tripod when capturing fireworks cannot be underestimated!

A good tripod will ensure your shots are stable and clear and will make it easy to use a remote trigger for convenience.

Once you’ve picked the perfect spot to set up your camera and tripod, you can sit back and simply press a button to start shooting fireworks.

Mirrorless vs. DSLR cameras for a Fireworks Show

A canon dslr sits on top of a table.

Mirrorless cameras are typically the secret weapon for snagging stunning shots of fireworks in the night sky.

Thanks to rapid, silent shooting, mirrorless cameras can shoot at higher frame rates than DSL or SLR cameras, which will allow you to more effectively capture shots in actions.

I would also argue that the autofocus capabilities of a mirrorless camera are much better than those of a standard DSLR.

However, you can easily find great choices in both categories that fit your budget and your needs, so don’t underestimate excellent point-and-shoot cameras from Nikon, Sony, or Panasonic.

How to Photograph Fireworks Without a Tripod

There’s no need to fret if you want to photograph fireworks and don’t have a tripod — camera settings make a big difference in keeping your shots crisp and clear.

As noted above, ISO, longer shutter speeds, and the aperture can really make a difference when shooting fireworks bursts.

Every photographer is familiar with getting creative when they need to keep their camera steady without a tripod.

Whether you have the ability to stay impressively still or invest in a handy camera strap, you’ll produce great fireworks shots.

You can also depend on some surprisingly sturdy lawn chairs and park picnic tables for the camera stability you need without a tripod.

One final option is to use your camera’s in-built image stabilization, if it offers it, although if you’re shooting handheld in low light, you’ll still need to hold your body as still as possible.

How to Take Pictures of Fireworks on iPhone

Even if you don’t have a camera, you can shoot great shots of fireworks from your phone, but I recommend using an app such as Slow Shutter Cam.

As the name implies, this app makes it easy to master longer exposure photography that’s typically reserved for DSLRs and is the best camera setting for fireworks on an iPhone.

But first things first! You need to turn off the auto-lock option in your iPhone settings to prevent your phone from shutting down.

Next, open the Slow Shutter Cam App, which will have three modes for capture.

Choose Light Trail Mode, which is the best mode on iPhones for fireworks, then adjust your Light Sensitivity — shoot for 1/2.

Next, set the Shutter Speed to the bulb mode just like you would with a camera and select a low ISO to prevent noise.

I recommend an ISO of 80 for optimal low-noise recording performance.

You should also consider using one of these tripods for iPhones to further stabilize your shot, and use the iPhone camera timer too.

26 Examples of Creative Long-Exposure Fireworks Photography

Capturing the still elements during live-action events can seem daunting, but don’t worry!

I’ll provide some great examples of creative long-exposure fireworks photography below that will leave you curious and inspired.

1. Fire extinguisher fireworks

Smoke coming out of a firework.

Long exposure fireworks using a fire extinguisher captured by Gaf Clickz.

2. Steel wool fireworks show

A light sculpture on a beach at night.

The fire spinning with steel wool captured by Harry Shelton is a great idea for  fireworks photography outside the usual location of the sky.

3. Photographing fireworks as backgrounds

A spark of fire in the dark.

Here’s another tip: Look to campsite fires for excellent firework displays. They make gorgeous backgrounds from the ground too, as shown here by Gaf Clickz.

4. Molecular magnificence

An orange and blue firework in the dark sky.

The beauty of long exposure fireworks photography is that rapid bursts of fireworks can be captured in cool molecular-looking structures like this, as shown here by Kelon Banda.

5. Abstract art using intentional camera shake

An abstract image of colorful lines in a dark background.

This linework display of fireworks is made possibly by very long exposure photography, captured here by Jatin Gajjar.

6. Vehicular visions with slow shutter speed

A car parked in front of a firework display.

Vehicles can add great context to steel wool fireworks as shown here by Patrick Hodskins.

7. Beautiful bursts

Fireworks exploding on a black background.

The beauty of traditional fireworks is represented strongly here with the array of burst times captured by Unsplash user, Design Ecologist.

8. Stunning scenes

New year's eve in st moritz, switzerland.

It’s not fair to pick favorites, but this New Year’s Eve fireworks image taken by Jamie Fenn showing a Swiss cityscape is certainly a contender.

9. Visuals and viewers

A group of people watching fireworks over a body of water.

Chris Gilbert’s shot of the gorgeous firework burst lighting up the night sky is made even cooler with the front-row viewers.

10. Pretty pinwheels

A purple and blue fireworks display over a city.

Probably the prettiest, most feminine fireworks ever to exist captured by Ben O’Bro in Geneva.

11. Bayside beauty

Fireworks in the sky over a city.

Bao Menglong’s shot of fireworks over the Marina Bay prove that a stunning view without fireworks only gets better with a horizon line.

12. Singapore cityscape

New year's eve fireworks in singapore.

Another gorgeous shot of fireworks made even more striking atop the Singapore cityscape.

13. Kids in action

A person is spinning a fire ring in the water.

Another steel wool fire spinning masterpiece shot by Harry Shelton.

14. Unexpected colors

A firework display over a lake at night.

Unexpected color pairings like the purple and orange shown here can help you capture more creative fireworks photos, as is the case with this shot from Aditya Chinchure showcasing the firework bursts in the Vancouver sky.

15. Top-to-bottom display

Fireworks over a river in florence, italy.

This shot by Andrea Marcheschi captures the beauty of fireworks from top to bottom in Florence, Italy.

16. Dazzling in the distance

A green and white fireworks display over a body of water.

There are not many things more beautiful than fireworks in the far distance to light up the dark sky, as demonstrated in this shot by Johnny Px. Here, the fireworks look like swaying palm trees, which we can all find beauty in.

17. Sparkling spectacle

Sydney's new year's eve fireworks.

Here’s another instance of not being able to play favorites, but really wanting to. This gorgeous shot of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks is a total treat for the eyes, complete with different elements, textures, and subjects.

18. Sparkling wings

A person standing in front of a building with a sparkler.

This shot by James Owen proves people with sparklers always look like angels with illuminated wings.

19. Radiant reflection

Melbourne new year's eve fireworks.

This shot of the celebratory Melbourne sky by Sebastian Davenport-Handley makes the art of taking fireworks photos look easy.

20. A single stunner

An orange firework in the black night sky.

Although you’ll usually see fireworks captured in sets, this single firework captured by Neenu Vimalkumar with a longer shutter speed brings a new appreciation to solo exhibitions like this one.

21. Festive figures

A person standing in front of a sparkler with the word 2018 written on it.

Capturing figures such as years is a cool way to spice up your album of fireworks photography, as Carl Raw has done here.

22. Geometric goodness

The dynamic nature of this light festival in Germany makes this shot from Jonas Von Werne truly captivating.

23. Rainbow sky

Colorful fireworks on a black background.

Anytime you can capture multicolored fireworks displays, you’ll end up with a rainbow in the sky like Diego Guzman did here.

24. Happy hearts

A person holding a sparkler in the shape of a heart.

This heart created by a sparkler as captured by Jamie Street is certainly unique by shape alone!

25. Close encounters

A colorful fireworks display over a body of water.

Maggie Hung’s shot of this seemingly close explosion in the sky above the Taipei city line is a gorgeous balance of everyday views and a special occasion display.

26. Lights Galore

A large group of people watching fireworks in the dark.

There’s so much to appreciate in this shot by Sharosh Rajasekher of the Lincoln Memorial fireworks: the crowd, all the phones adding extra illumination while everyone shares to social media, and of course the light show itself!

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Dana is a passionate lifestyle photographer and professional writer. When she isn’t working with designers and creative directors at photoshoots, she can be found using her Fujifilm or Nikon cameras out in the wild, capturing elements of fashion and nature.

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