Photographing Fireworks

kelkiwi 17 78 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2002 2:20PM
As the silly season of fireworks is just about here , can anyone of you talented people out there give me any hints tips or tricks for shooting fireworks as I am going to a display this sundaynight, especially one thing that puzzles me is how to know if you have the fireworks in focus when you will be more than likely looking into a black sky?????? Thanks for any replies!!!!!!

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Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
29 Oct 2002 4:50PM
Well, tip one is to focus your lens to the hyperfocal distance for the aperture you are using, which means you will get maximum depth of field (up to infinity). I can't remember how to work it out, as I wrote myself an app for my PDA which tells me when I enter the focal length, aperture etc.
Another is to set the camera to B to keep the shutter open, then cover the front of the lens with a black card. You can then remove the card when a firework goes up and get multiple fireworks on the same shot.
Needless to say, a tripod is essential !
Anthony 18 5.6k 17 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2002 6:19PM
Question to bprice please. Sorry if this seems a silly point, but how does setting the shutter to B help with focusing?? This is'nt a flippant question, but I cannot work that bit out!!
Pete Plus
18 18.8k 97 England
29 Oct 2002 6:50PM
To answer for Brian. He mentions the B
setting as a control for the exposure not
focusing. If you use the camera on auto the
shutter will stay open but may not be open
when the burst occurs. So setting B allows
you to control the bursts by using a black card
as a shutter. Move it out of the way to record a
burst and back over the lens to avoid over
exposure from the ambient light.
Another tip for sparkler shots is to get the
person holding the sparkler to move it during
the exposure. If you use flash you will also
correctly illuminate the subject. Ask them to
write their name with the sparkler and it will
appear recorded on film. Shoot at a wide
aperture and have the flash on auto and slow
sync mode.
kelkiwi 17 78 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2002 8:29AM
Thanks for the advice now all I need is someone to tell me how to focus your lens to the hyperfocal distance for the aperture you are using and then I will be laughing if you have that application for your pda could you send it to me at so I could put it on my pda.???
Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
30 Oct 2002 12:51PM
Thanks Pete.

Regarding the PDA app, it is not yet complete,
as it also contains a locations database and a
film database, so you can record the exposure
and location details for every shot you take.<

When it is finished I will make it available to
anyone on here who wants it - it will only run
on Pocket PC operating systems.
Until then, there is a way of setting your focus
manually to get the best D.O.F. When I find it I
will update the forum here.
Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
30 Oct 2002 12:56PM
OK I found it. There is an article on this site
regarding depth of field which is at:

There is also a reply by Pete here:

which has a link to an online d.o.f. calculator<
kelkiwi 17 78 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2002 2:53PM
Brian thank you very much , you have been most helpful!!!!
Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
1 Nov 2002 11:10PM
Off to practise what I preach tomorrow.
Good luck to you.
kelkiwi 17 78 United Kingdom
13 Nov 2002 1:07PM
Brian , how did you firework pictures go? Mine went ok except the display was rather limited in colours which I found made for dull shots like all red or all white which went on for a while so my 30sec exposures were no good, as at the time I did not have a remote release, but now thanks to BH in NY I have. I have got a really strange one that I think I will submit to the site maybe tomorrow or Friday purely for the strangeness of it I really can not work out what it is.
Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
13 Nov 2002 1:13PM
Unfortunately I trapped a nerve in my back on the morning of the firework display so I spent the day lying in bed in considerable pain, so a bit p***ed off about that.
The local rag had a very good photo of the display and my wife and kids liked it.

It's my daughter's 6th birthday today, so she's having a disco tonight.I might try out some long exposures there for a laugh. I'll take the Fuji S1 from my office so I don't waste any film.
Andy1979 13 755 2 England
24 Oct 2006 10:56PM
do u use a fast or low shutter speed for taking photographs of fireworks and do u use a flash for taking or no lighting at all
v4forlife 13 80
25 Oct 2006 9:54AM
i was wondering about fireworks aswell, shutter speed etc, but to the above, no point in using flash, as it wont do anything. unless the fireworks are being shot at you.
theredbaron 13 394 United Kingdom
25 Oct 2006 10:13AM
I am on a digital photography course. I have tried to work out fireworks for the last two years on my own.
I asked my tutor this one last night.
The nearest I got to an answer is :

Set camera to manual
set iso to 100
set aperture to f8 or f16 and see which gets best results.

He did also mention trickery with covering lens between long exposure, so that you can create the illusion of two or three fireworks in the sky at the same time, but thats just confusing me so if i am going to do any effects they will come in photoshop!

Chris Brown (Herts)
mattw 16 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
25 Oct 2006 10:20AM
If you go to a big display, when there are planty of fireworks going off at the same time, then you don't need to cover the lens at all.

I suggest using Apperture or shutter prioity. You want an exposure time of around 20-30 sec. ISO 100 will give best results. also remember:

1) Use a tripod
2) get there very early to blag a good spot
3) get the camera setup well in advance of the display.
4) Take a tourch, to help you set-up and find the lens cap etc when you drop them!
5) Good Luck!


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