Learn How to Photograph 4th of July Fireworks in Under Three Minutes

With the festivities just hours away for the U.S, perhaps it's time for you to get ready to photograph them like you've always promised yourself you would one day.

I spent far too many years telling myself that this would be the year I properly photograph a fireworks display, but every year it got pushed back for one reason or another. Then, on 5th of November in the U.K a few years back, I prepared all my equipment and actually shot one. It's tricky to get incredible shots in camera, but some simple tips can get you there and reward you with some eye-catching imagery.

In this video, Serge Ramelli goes over his best tips for photographing today's myriad firework shows up and down the country, condensed down in to a convenient 3 minute video.

Can you offer any tips for photographers looking to capture tonight's displays?

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Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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4th July fireworks illustrated by an image of the Eiffel Tower.....

Thank you, been trying to shoot fireworks for several years, always got it wrong, or messed it up. I think I can do this now, Happy 4th to you also and thank you again.

Dammit I only have 70mm 😅

I know he means well, but I have a few things I kind of sort of have issues with for both his advice and finished images, based on experience. I in no way mean this in an "I'm better than him" way, but I do feel like his advice isn't great, again based on my experience here in Japan. (I’m sorry if he covered these, but I found his video a little hard to get through)

1) Don't set a shutter speed, bulb mode is your friend. Put your camera in full manual bulb mode and use your eyes to choose the best timing for each photo. This will vary on the amount of ambient light and the pace of the fireworks. I've had some look perfectly fine at 6 seconds, other that looked better at 9 seconds. Also, make sure you start taking the photo as it's going up, if you want the trails.

2) Consider your composition. With all due respect to Serge, his composition ruins his photos. As with any photo, consider your composition and subject. It's best not to have your subject leaning or weirdly off center. It's OK to have the fireworks explode out of the frame, but it should be done to show scale, not due to bad composition.

Again, I don't mean to bash Serge, these are just my thoughts, based on my shooting experience.

This is like taking pics of the moon. Always a hundred more already out there that do the job better than me and in the end I don't really see a way to do it better. Except to take a pic of fireworks from the moon.

I didn't watch the under 3 minutes video, but these were taken from my backyard.

Here are two composite photos from last night's show. I shot them from a mile away then, without changing scale, reassembled the best bursts into two images.

Well done. I wasn't able to get anything like that. I had my camera on the tripod with the spin loose so I could swing back and forth trying to get the shot. I never knew which direction they were going to come from. Mine isn't as good as yours, but hey, it was the first time + having a long exposure turn out pretty decent made me happy.