Photography Tips: Shooting Fireworks

Snapping shots of fireworks can be challenging, but it's not impossible! Check out these tips from the National Geographic photo team to help you best capture the lights in the night sky.


Photograph by Peregrine Falcon, NG Kids My Shot

Shoot Manual

Turn off your flash and set your camera to manual mode. This allows you to control the exposure and aperture yourself. A good starting place for your settings is ISO 100, f/11, at 1/2 second. If the photos are looking too dark, change the shutter speed while keeping the aperture the same.

Arrive Early

Arrive early to scout out your location and choose the best place to set up. Before the show begins, think about all the elements of the scene and how you might want to include them in your pictures. Manually set the focus before it gets dark. Focus on an area of sky where the fireworks will be, or on an object the same distance away. Once the fireworks start, you’ll be ready to start shooting.


Photograph by melqwe, NG Kids My Shot


Photograph by KateBith, NG Kids My Shot

Use a Tripod

The long exposures required for firework photography mean slow shutter speeds. Keep your camera motionless by using a sturdy tripod and a shutter release cord. When shooting a scene that includes not just the sky but also other things like a cityscape, keeping the horizon line straight is particularly important. Make sure your camera is level on the tripod.

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