Rock Steady While the Sky Shakes: Fireworks Photography on Independence Day

Firework long exposure


Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for our great nation to celebrate its independence in the best way we know how, blowing stuff up. There are many ways to enjoy the holiday! You might get together with friends and family for your local fireworks show, travel to celebrate in your closest city, or go out, like me, to a tourist destination or theme park. Regardless of your destination, the Fourth of July is an opportune time to grab your camera and capture some amazing images with long exposure photography.

firework long exposure 2

You need a couple key pieces of equipment to take great fireworks pictures. First and foremost you need a camera with a wide angle lens. I shoot with a Sony a7III and a 24-70mm lens. I set this to 24mm and won’t zoom one millimeter tighter. The more sky we can capture, the more epic the images feel. Next, we need something to steady our camera. I use my Platypod Max with a ball head mount. The Platypod Max gives a rock solid surface while the ball head mount provided flexibility to change the camera angle. Finally, you will need some kind of shutter release; these can be found on Amazon for next to nothing and make a massive difference when it comes to the quality of your long exposure shots.

Alright, you pulled together your equipment, you head out the door, and you are ready to take the best fireworks pictures anyone has ever seen (at least any of your friends on facebook). How are you going to do this? Simple. First, find a clear area to place your Platypod or tripod with minimal obstructions. Next, point your camera where you think the fireworks will be launched. Set your exposure to bulb mode, aperture to around 22, and ISO to its lowest possible setting. Finally, focus on the furthest object in the distance and switch to manual focus mode. This locks your focus and prevents your camera from searching for something to focus on with the wild changes of light and contrast during the show.


The first firework launched. Hold down your shutter release until the explosions end. If there is a series of fireworks don’t be afraid to hold for 10 seconds or longer. After this series of explosions check your framing and exposure. Adjust your framing to capture the entire firework if you find yourself missing anything. If your image is too bright decrease the time you hold your shutter release. If your image came out too dark you can either lower your aperture or hold the shutter release for longer exposures.

Once the show is finished admire the beautiful photos on the back of your camera and get home safe!

Hope you all have a happy, safe, and successful Independence Day,


Long Exposure Firework for Fourth of July

Love what you got?! Shoot me a DM on instagram @DougDoesDisney , I’d LOVE to see them!

Noah Christensen