Firework and Sparkler Photo Tips!

Me Ra Koh

Can you believe the fourth of July is this Monday?!  How is this possible!  Time to break out the lemonade stand, bbq, strawberry shortcake, lawn chairs, blankets, sparklers and CAMERA!  Are you ready for fireworks and sparkler photo tips!

Today’s blog is packed with inspiration for your 4th of July!

Found these great sparkler photo tips by Me Ra Koh!

(Photo by Crystal Garcia from Ashland, OR / Crystal, this photo is PRECIOUS!  Amazing lighting and such a wonderful way to show the red, white and blue!)

If you want a fun photo challenge this fourth of July, try out any one of the three Photo-Recipes below.  I think the most fun Photo-Recipe is the last one because it’s all about how to capture your kids playing with sparklers!

Photo-Recipe for Capturing Fireworks!

1. Set your camera on AV or A mode. This means aperture priority, where you decide how blurry your background is. Since we’re wanting fireworks, we want more detail than any thing else. So bump up your aperture to somewhere between an F11 to F16.

2. A while back I did a tips post on ISO. The lower your ISO (or what we once knew as film speed), the richer your color. We want deep, rich colors for this shot, so bring your ISO down to 100.

3. If you have a tripod great, set it up! If you don’t have a tripod or have little ones to manage use a table top or put the camera between your knees. Since you set your camera in AV or A mode, your camera will determine how long your shutter needs to stay open to record the light from the fireworks.

4. When you see the fireworks go off, push your shutter release button (the button you push when you’re taking photos), gently let go, and let the shutter stay open as long as it needs too. When you hear the click, that means the shutter closed. It may take a few long seconds for the image to record before you can view it in on the back of your camera.

5. Is the image dark? Look at your image, click your info button and see what the camera decided the shutter speed should be. Switch from AV mode to Manuel (M). (you can do this! stick with me!) Set your aperture at the f-stop you chose (somewhere between F11 to F16), and then adjust your shutter speed so it stays open longer than what the camera had decided. Example, you took the photo in AV mode. The camera decided to stay open for 4 seconds. But it wasn’t long enough because the image is to dark. Move to Manuel, set your aperture back, set the shutter to stay open for 6 seconds (two seconds longer) and try again.

6. Is the image to bright? You basically do what we did in step 5, except this time you adjust your shutter so it DOESN’T stay open as long. If your photo was to bright or overexposed, the shutter stayed open to long and let to much light in. We just need to speed that shutter speed up a bit. Maybe have it stay open for 1 second instead of 4 seconds.

(I hope this makes sense, and isn’t to confusing! Brian dresses up as Professor T in DVD 2, and does a great skit on understanding shutter speed. I almost pee my pants, every time I watch it or see him reenact it in our kitchen.  Check out our DVD series for more help with camera settings!)

Found these great sparkler photo tips by Me Ra Koh!

(photo by Gina Maxine from California / Gina, I LOVE the look on his face and how it’s only lit by the sparkler’s light!)

Second Photo-Recipe for Fireworks!

1. Set your ISO to 100.

2. Set your camera on Manuel mode.

3. Set your aperture to F11 or F16. Remember, the higher the number in our aperture, the more detail we have.

4. Set your shutter speed to 4 seconds long.

5. When the fireworks go off, click your button, wait for the shutter to close.

6. Check to see if it’s to bright or to dark and then just adjust your shutter speed accordingly.

Photo-Recipe for kids (AND adults) playing with sparklers!

Let’s jump into sparkler photo tips!  Whether you want to capture a photo of a favorite word spelled with sparklers

Found these great sparkler photo tips by Me Ra Koh!

(photo by Jasmine Taylor from Washington / Jasmine, what a FANTASTIC IDEA!)

or simple capture the sparkling joy in your kid’s face as they play with sparklers, try this fun photo-recipe out!

Found these great sparkler photo tips by Me Ra Koh!

(photo by Natalie Teabo in Georgia / Their beautiful, adopted daughter from Ghana West Africa, one month after coming home!)

1. Set your ISO to 100.

2. Set your camera in Manuel mode.

3. Set your aperture to F8.

4. Set your shutter speed to 1 second.

5. Have your little one twirl their sparkler in front of your camera while the shutter is open (make sure the camera is on a table or something that isn’t going to move).

You should see a trail of light for every direction they twirled their sparkler. If not, slow your shutter speed down even more. This can be a ton of fun!

How is that for easy sparkler photo tips that anyone can play with!


Check out any one of these websites for more fun photo tips!

10 Simple Steps to Capture Time Lapse of Fireworks from my Disney Babble column

11 Tips for Sparkling Fireworks Photos from Photojojo

Okay, you are set for photos on the 4th!  You seriously better post your results on my Facebook page!  I want to see!

A big thanks to all of you who saw my FB call-out for photos and responded so fast!  I love showing off your work!  It is always so inspiring!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!






  1. BreAnna says:

    Thank you so much Me Ra! Awesome photos ladies! I LOVE Jasmine’s picture of using sparklers to spell “love.” These are all such great ideas and now I’m ready for the weekend! 🙂

  2. jeramy says:

    happy 4th of july everybody! i hope you’re weekend is great! 🙂

  3. Grant Oakes says:

    Hey Jasmine, I’m glad the setup worked for you.

  4. Sarah C says:

    This is too awesome a post! Combo joy for the pyro and photographer within *wink*. Adore the sparkler idea and the first photo with the children. The little guy with the sparkler as the only light, amazing. So adorable how concentrated he is. Great share all. Cheers!

  5. Happy 4th of July everyone!!

  6. […] a fun little tidbit!  Every year I post photo tips for how to photograph fireworks (and sometimes sparklers too)!  Can you believe my first year to do a Fourth of July photo tips post was in 2007?!!  […]