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11-02-2019, 03:40 PM   #1
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Exposure settings for fireworks displays: advice requested

I had the good fortune to be in the USA on 4th July earlier this year and got some reasonable shots at the Fort Collins, CO fireworks display. I am now back in the UK and we are in the midst of 4 November (Guy Fawkes) fireworks season, so I'm seeking advice from forum members on how to set my KP up for best capture of fireworks shots. Examining the EXIF data of my best shots from July I am thinking manual exposure f.2.8, 1/60 s. 6400 ISO. Any advice on shooting fireworks is welcome.

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11-02-2019, 03:59 PM   #2
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Hi Stewart, I hope this link is of help. Good luck.

Fireworks Photography Tips | Event Photography Tips
11-02-2019, 04:10 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by sg_gardiner Quote
I had the good fortune to be in the USA on 4th July earlier this year and got some reasonable shots at the Fort Collins, CO fireworks display. I am now back in the UK and we are in the midst of 4 November (Guy Fawkes) fireworks season, so I'm seeking advice from forum members on how to set my KP up for best capture of fireworks shots. Examining the EXIF data of my best shots from July I am thinking manual exposure f.2.8, 1/60 s. 6400 ISO. Any advice on shooting fireworks is welcome.
Fast tip.
Try with f8 iso 100 and time 4 seconds. Then play around this values.
11-02-2019, 04:47 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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Here are a few test photo for you to get an idea. From a quick post-process, the highlight recovery work well with 6 to 7.3. I would say 5 to 6 sec are good, longer than that color will be watched out. 7.3 is a bit too long when they fire a lot of fireworks but still manageable in post.
I think it also depends on the distance too. If you are closer, shutter speed need to be adjusted. Another setting is safe to say keep it the same.

Location is very important because once the show start you can't move much to make a difference. Go early find good location. You can change setting anytime you want but not the location.

Last, I use continuous shooting so it fires one after another non-stop. I tried another methods before and I found that if I have to keep on press the remote control, I will either forget, or keep my eyes focus too much on the camera and enjoy less of the fireworks show! Or if I do interval shooting, I often miss a moment. You know, the camera will fire...wait for the count...fire again...wait for the count again, and sometime it misses the moment while waiting. Continuous shooting will ensure I don't miss anything until the end. and the most important for me is it allows me to enjoy the show rather than keep looking at the small LCD. Spend time less than 5 minute at the beginning of the show to set it up and forget about the camera until the show end.

Basic information: K3, DA21 smc, dng, f8, ISO100, Continuous shooting, post-processed with almost the same setting.

6sec



7.3 sec



10 sec




30 sec



Last edited by tokyoscape; 11-03-2019 at 05:35 AM.
11-02-2019, 07:53 PM   #5
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Having a park with a mostly obscured view of where my city shoots off fireworks I gave photographing them a try. I was about half a mile from them and ran my 50/1.2 at f/5.6, ISO 100, and 4s and got good results. Set the camera to continuous shooting flipped the switch on the cable release and let it run for the 20 or so minutes the show went for. I probably should have went with the 77 ltd as I had to crop but I still got some reasonable results.
11-02-2019, 11:46 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tokyoscape Quote
Here are a few test photo for you to get an idea. From a quick process, the highlight recovery work well with 6 to 7.3. I would say 5 to 6 sec are good, longer than that color will be watched out. 7.3 is a bit too long when they fire a lot of fireworks but still manageable in post.
I think it also depends on the distance too. If you are closer, shutter speed need to be adjusted. Another setting is safe to say keep it the same.

Location is very important because once the show start you can't move much to make a difference. Go early find good location. You can change setting anytime you want but not the location.

Last, I use continuous shooting so it fires one after another non-stop. I tried another methods before and I found that if I have to keep on press the remote control, I will either forget, or keep my eyes focus too much on the camera and enjoy less of the fireworks show! Or if I do interval shooting, I often miss a moment. You know, the camera will fire...wait for the count...fire again...wait for the count again, and sometime it misses the moment while waiting. Continuous shooting will ensure I don't miss anything until the end. and the most important for me is it allows me to enjoy the show rather than keep looking at the small LCD. Spend time less than 5 minute at the beginning of the show to set it up and forget about the camera until the show end.

Basic information: K3, DA21 smc, dng, f8, ISO100, Continuous shooting, post-processed with almost the same setting.

6sec



7.3 sec



10 sec




30 sec
Great advice and it is really good to see the difference the different exposure lengths make.
11-03-2019, 01:29 AM   #7
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I also vote for something like 4 or 5 seconds. However, if it's windy and the firework density is high you might want to do some 1-2 second shots. This way you might avoid the wind smearing the fireworks around the image and you can always merge the exposures later.

11-03-2019, 12:27 PM   #8
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Was just shooting some fireworks last week. For me f 9.5 stopped saturating the colours out and 10s was short enough not to over fill the fireworks. It probably depends a bit on the actual fireworks as some are much brighter than others.
11-03-2019, 12:46 PM   #9
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ISO 100, F 8, et 2 seconds. It's my base !
11-03-2019, 02:22 PM   #10
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Thanks for the excellent advice here. It seems like 2-4 second exposures at medium aperture is the way to go. I also love the idea of setting the camera on the tripod and letting it shoot continuous so you can enjoy the show.
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