Firework photography isn’t just for patriotic holidays anymore. In addition to Independence Day, there are shows on New Year’s Eve, at fairs and carnivals, sports team championship celebrations and season openers, business or civic grand openings and dedications, amusement parks and many more throughout the year. There are slightly different challenges shooting fireworks from a distance versus shooting displays nearby.
The photo below was shot at an early New Years Eve event with the Tamron 18-270 Di II VC PZD. As always, dress for the weather. If outside for long periods, keep back-up batteries inside a coat to keep them warm. Choose a spot safely away from the fireworks, and scout locations in advance of the show if possible. Choose a location with the breeze at your back, so the smoke is blowing away from the display for sharper results. Focus manually and leave it set once the distance is determined, so the camera isn’t trying to hunt for focus in the dark.
Use a steady tripod and a release cable, or remote, for the sharpest results. For long distance shots a telephoto lens is necessary. Use a low ISO like 100 or 200, as the bursts are very bright. Try using manual exposure. The best results are usually shot with exposure times from about 5-30 seconds because the camera records everything that happens for as long as the shutter is open. The longer the shutter speed, the more visible the firework trails will be. Try different shots, allowing only one or two bursts, then allow several bursts to expose on each frame. A noise reduction software program in post-production can help eliminate the digital noise seen in shots like this.