Photo Tips

10 Simple Steps: How to Capture a Time Lapse of the Fireworks!

Me Ra Koh

The 4th of July is coming, and for a decade we’ve brought you different posts on how to photograph fireworks.  Let’s take it up a notch and capture a time lapse of the fireworks!

If time lapse isn’t your thing, and you just want a great photo of the fireworks.  See our most popular photo recipe for how to photograph fireworks with before and after examples, by following the link.  That post has been pinned THOUSANDS of TIMES, so I’m thinking that is one of our readers’ favorite! 

What is Time Lapse? 

It’s basically taking several photos and then stitching them together to see them as a video.  Time lapses are great for telling chronological stories like sunrise or sunset, moving out of your home, setting up a party, styled shoot or production.  I also love it when Brian does time lapse of the clouds moving across the sky.  Many of your cameras have a time lapse setting that makes this super easy to try.  There are a few steps involved to get the BEST time lapse possible.

You have to know HOW CRAZY EXCITED we are to show you this post!  Brian set this all up last year, but we had to wait a WHOLE YEAR to show you our time lapse!  LOL!  The time has finally come!  This photo and the time lapse were all done from my parents’ backyard!  And thanks to Triple Scoop Music, we’ve even got some fun music to go with the Time Lapse video!

10 Simple Steps to Create a Time Lapse

1. Charge Your Camera Batteries the Night Before

Your camera will be taking photo after photo non-stop throughout the whole fireworks show.  This can drain your battery, so make sure you charge them the night before so you are starting with a full battery on the 4th.

2. Clean Your Lens

Aside from the light of the fireworks, most of the image will be black.  To avoid finger print smudges showing up on your images, take a quick second to clean the lens with a special cloth that won’t scratch your lens glass (aka, don’t use your t-shirt, Kleenex or a rag :) ).

3.  Get an Early Start

I LOVE how Brian started the Time Lapse thirty minutes before sunset.  It adds more dimension to the overall story, and it’s a nice touch for visually leading into the fireworks.

4. Bring the Tripod

You will want a Tripod for doing Time Lapse.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, a cheaper tabletop tripod will work too.  We love the Joby tripods for versatility. When taking a picture of a single firework, you can hold the camera yourself.  But for Time Lapse, you need a tripod so it can stay in the same place and shoot the whole fireworks show while you get to sit back and relax.

5. The Chord that Makes the Magic Happen

If your camera has a Time Lapse camera setting for Fireworks, set it to that and DONE–pass Go and collect your $100!  If it doesn’t, you are going to want to buy what is called a Timer Remote Shutter Control.  The key is to get the cable that is compatible with the camera brand you are using.  We used this Pixel Timer Remote Control Shutter for Sony cameras last year.

6. Camera Settings (try copying ours)

Put your camera in Manual mode and try the settings we used.  We set our ISO to 400, Aperture was f/5.0 and Shutter Speed was 1 second long (may look like 1? on your camera).  Auto White Balance.

7. Settings for the Timer Remote Shutter Control 

(phew!  what a long name for a little piece of equipment that is pretty much a chord!)

Set the remote for how long you want the camera’s shutter to stay open for and how long of a pause you want between each picture it takes.  For our time lapse video, we set the camera’s shutter to stay open for 1 second and the pause in between photos to be 1 second long.  (Easy.  One second.  One second.  Done.)

8. Time to Make the Video

Import all the images that your camera took during the fireworks show into a slideshow or video program to create your final video.  We use Adobe Premiere Pro software.   (Adobe Premiere Elements is much cheaper and will get the job done.)

9. Add Music

Once you’ve edited your video, you’ve got to add music.  Why?  Music makes it come ALIVE!  Music makes videos SUPER COOL!  I LOVE using Triple Scoop Music for finding award winning songs that you can license.

10.  Test it All the Night Before

Brian and I have been professional photographers for almost ten years.  One of the biggest lessons we have learned is to test new ideas before the actual event.  So obvious, right?  And yet, such an easy mistake to make.  If your family is playing with fireworks the night before, try a time lapse test run.  This way, you avoid getting crazy stressed the night of the 4th because you know better what to expect.  (Trust me.  You’ll thank me for this last tip!)

Watch our time lapse

Time lapses are fun and simple. We guarantee making one will make you smile!

How to Capture a Time Lapse of the Fireworks first appeared on Disney’s Babble.

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  1. Have a BLAST this 4th of July and be prepared with EVERY CAMERA SETTING you need!!!! xoxoxox