HOW TO: Take Unique Fireworks Photos - By Rachel Fisher
Saturday, Jul 01, 2006
So I recently shut down my written blog because I only ever seem to post in my photo blog, but now I suddenly have something to say so Kevin is being nice enough to post for me.

I've been getting a lot of hits and emails about my past fireworks photographs as Kevin got them linked up to another "HOW TO take pix of fireworks" that showed up in Boing Boing. So I started thinking about how I take my more alternative fireworks shots. So I wrote up a HOW-TO for the experimental fireworks photographer:

Step 1: Pick the fireworks display you want to photograph. This is as important as anything you do once you get there. The key to choosing your display is not how big the display will be but rather where you can be in relation to the fireworks.

Big huge city displays are beautiful, but you often get so stuck in the crowd with no real room to adjust and no way to get to that perfect vantage point that you want. Don't get me wrong, I loved when I lived in Pittsburgh going to the Point and cramming in with everyone else for the display � but photography-wise I would be better catching one of the many smaller displays that the city does through out the year simply because I can get a better location.

On the 4th I choose a display that's a little less urban. When you are trying to play with the light patterns of fireworks it doesn't really matter how big bloom is, because you are going to crop in anyway. Additionally the more middle-sized fireworks don't have to go up as high so you are closer to them.

Step 2: Pick your spot! Find a hill, an island a dock whatever you can but make sure that you have some elbow room and if possible a place to lay out a blanket and lay down. Its easier on the neck and if you can find a nice spot as close as you are allowed to the fireworks so that they are nearly on top of you then that upward angle is really just perfect.

Step 3: Try a few things out at the beginning. Don't start fancy; just get a feel for the general area that the fireworks are going off at. Frame up an area in the sky and just pan (follow) the firework from its shoot off point up to the place where it explodes. Chek the result on your camera and see where the firework takes you. Rather than capturing a still shot of its life, let it be active, let it have a life of its own.

Step 4: TRY EVERYTHING! Once you have a feel for it, just play with things. Pan, change your zoom every 5 minutes or so. Try something slightly out of focus, change your aperture, try different lengths of exposure. Anything you can think of. Try it and see what happens. They aren't all going to turn out, but who cares, its about having fun and the surprise of what you have created once you get a chance to see the pics.

Bonus Step: Let your camera DANCE!!! Don't be traditional here, you are playing with light and what it can do, you don't need to stay still. One of my favorite shots from last year, "Fire Flower" was made because I pointed the camera in the general direction of the exploding firework, I took it away from my eyes and then I just traced designs in the air with my camera. The combination of the movement of the firework and the movement of my hand made for a really fun shot.

Overall just have fun! Enjoy the fireworks for the moment and hopefully you will capture something new too!

If you like it, please share it.

Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox