Tomorrow is one of those rare days where cool holidays and weddings collide. Bad news is that if you’re working your not getting to spend the day with your friends and family. The good news is FIREWORKS at your wedding HOT DAMN!

mark lutz photography fireworks at weddings

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get those awesome fireworks shots tomorrow.

  • Bring a tripod! This is really a must as you’ll be shooting some long exposures and the delicate lines of some fireworks are easy to blur handheld at slow speeds. If you don’t have a tripod improvise a camera rest and use the built in timer.
  • Bring a video light. If you want to light a couple in the foreground of your photo a video light (or even an unmounted manually popped flash) will allow you more control during the long exposure.
  • Bring a flash light. You’ll need it to poke around your bag and set your gear.
  • Focus at infinity (and turn off auto focus).  How do you focus in the dark on something that is not there yet? Most likely you’ll be at a great enough distance that setting your lens to manual and setting the focal length to infinity should work.
  • Shutter speed controls the trails. Exposures on fireworks run the range of 2-15 seconds in general. The slower your shutter speed the longer the trails. If your camera has a bulb mode use it. Being careful to not induce shake into your shot. Otherwise start with a 2-4 second exposure and adjust to taste remembering:  Slower = longer trails & Faster = shorter trails.
  • Picking an ISO. Generally speaking use a low ISO, myself I like to shoot at ISO 100 or ISO 50  if the camera allows but never faster than ISO 200. Start at f/8 or f/11 adjusting as necessary but you probably won’t need to unless you’re photos are lacking color in which case you’ll close down the lens a bit more to bring it back. . Most of the tweaking will be with your shutter speed.
  • Consider your foreground. Without an object in the foreground fireworks are just color in a black abyss. Adding a foreground object gives your photo depth that it would otherwise lack.
  • Try manual multiple exposures. If you really want to get funky, lock your shutter open and cover your lens with something dark. Uncovering it only for the bursts. You can get some pretty funky multi burst frames this way.
  • Shoot RAW! but try a daylight white balance. Film photographers almost always shoot fireworks with daylight balanced film for the extra saturation and color.
  • Meter of the buildings. You can test your settings to a certain degree by metering off buildings or structures in the distance before the fireworks start to go off. Chances are if the buildings look good the fireworks will too.
  • Load an empty card. Be sure to load an empty card before the booming begins as you’ll be taking lots of exposures and you don’t want to be messing with anything other than your exposure.