The 4th of July is coming up quick, before you know it you will be out BBQ’ing, hanging out with friends and family and watching fireworks. Here are some quick tips on how to capture great firework shots as well as some image to help inspire. Although fireworks can be fairly easy to photograph there are a few tips that will help you make the best of your firework shots.

1) Find the best vantage point. Although fireworks on their own can be beautiful, when photographing them try and add some other visual elements into the shot. Look for the best angle where you can incorporate other visual elements like buildings, waterways or other items you can work into the composition. Try and focus on the entire shot not just what will be in the sky.

Fourth on Lake Austin, originally uploaded by Stuck in Customs.

2) Get a sturdy tripod. A sturdy tripod can be key in capturing firework images. You might be shooting at exposures that are a few seconds or longer and having a strong tripod will help to ensure that there is no camera shake. There are lots of different manufactures for tripods and they come in all shapes and sizes. I always recommend going to a local camera store and trying some out before buying. Some things to look for aside from the overall strength of the tripod are how easy it is to setup/collapse and the head of the tripod. Make sure the controls of the head feel natural to you, since you will need to be making adjustments in a fast pace sometimes the head should have it’s controls in a place that feel comfortable to you. I have always preferred Manfrotto tripods with a ball head or their joystick heads. Here is one of the tripods I have used for weddings for years: Manfrotto Pro Tripod

3). Exposure. Even though you are shooting at night this is the one time you can leave your fast prime lenses at home. Fireworks are so bright that you should be shooting with an aperture anywhere from f/8 to f/11 at iso 100 for the clearest shot. For the shutter speed you can experiment with different shutter speeds but they should beat least long enough to capture one full burst. One of the easiest way to time the fireworks right is to use the Bulb mode in your camera. When you set the shutter speed to bulb the shutter will open when you click the shutter and stay open until you hit the shutter again. This way you can open the shutter right before the firework pops and then close it right after. Also try keeping it open for a few different fireworks to pop so you can capture multiple fireworks in one frame.

4) Shutter release. When you are shooting at very long exposures even with a tripod there are still chances of camera shake. Just the vibration from you clicking the shutter can shake the camera and create a slight blur in your image. There are different types of remote shutter releases that can help you make sure you get a clean shot.

Those are just a few tips to get you started, let me know if you have any great tips for photographing fireworks in the comments.

Here are a few more images to get you inspired. Have a fun and safe 4th of July everyone!

Friday Night Hilton Fireworks, originally uploaded by Ryan Eng.