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How to photograph fireworks: master explosive shots this New Year's Eve

Watch our video on how to photograph fireworks

With 2019 drawing to a close, there's one last great photo project to embark on this year: taking some fantastic fireworks photographs on New Year's Eve (well, technically on New Year's Day!). 

Taking fireworks photographs might seem daunting, but it is easier than you might think. If you're heading out to a New Year's Eve party, going to a professional fireworks display, or just enjoying the colorful explosions from the comfort of your back yard, following these guidelines when setting up and shooting will help you get great results.

You’ll also learn a great trick for shooting in Bulb mode that will enable you to capture bursts of multiple fireworks in one amazing shot! 

4 tips for shooting fireworks

A great photograph of a burst of multicolored fireworks exploding in sync looks impressive in any portfolio. It’s impossible not to be tempted to snap away during a display when sparklers, bonfires and Catherine wheels light up the night. 

However, without the right settings, your images can end up looking blurry or smoky (or both). Luckily, a little bit of planning and technique is all that’s necessary to learn how to get some really stunning final photographs. 

Trying to shoot elaborate displays that only last a few minutes can be chaotic in the middle of an excited crowd, so turn up early to scope out the location and find a good place to set everything up in plenty of time.   

(Image credit: N-Photo Magazine)

Chat to the fireworks technicians if they are available when you arrive – they can keep you up to date on when and where to expect the action, and even what might be the most photo-friendly high points in the display. 

You’ll need to pack a tripod to keep things steady, as using a long shutter speed is the key to great fireworks photos. This will enable you to capture well-defined trailing lines of light and different bursts of fireworks in one dynamic picture. It’s also a good idea to pack a very low-tech bit of kit – black cardboard – as this will help you control the exposure.

Have fun and soon you will be able to get images like the ones on this page!

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