It’s already late August, and there are but a few more fireworks shows left in the summer season. I don’t know about you, but when I try to take pictures to help remind me of summer memories, they never turn out as beautiful as the memories themselves.

Buying a more expensive camera would certainly solve the problem, but I want to enjoy taking pictures without the huge commitment. I’m sure that many of you only have compact digital cameras or mobile phone cameras at your disposal. What are we to do?

This is where a pro cameraman named T came to my rescue. T is a photographer for TV dramas, and he taught me some of the ins and outs of capturing fireworks on compact digital cameras.


Adjust Settings Before the Show


Open the camera menu and change the mode from Auto to Manual so that you can tweak the more detailed settings.

Next, turn Fireworks Mode, High Sensitivity, and Anti-Shake on if your camera has those functions. If not, skip this step.

Increase the resolution. There are fewer pixels at 640×480, resulting in blurriness, so set it to 1600×1200 or above.

Turn the Flash off, and set the ISO Sensitivity to its minimum.

Make the shutter speed slower, four seconds or longer if you are able.

Adjust the exposure to F4 if you are taking pictures from far away, and F8 if you are closer to the fireworks.

Mobile phone cameras don’t have a Manual setting, so set them to Night Mode or Landscape Mode.

Now, you’re ready to don your yukata and head out to the show!


Timing and Location Are Everything


Sit upwind of the fireworks show as sitting downwind means that you and your pictures will get all the smoke from the exploding shells.

Timing is very important for photographing fireworks. Press the shutter button the moment before the shell explodes; it is too late to press the button once the shells have exploded. Remember, you’ve set the shutter to close at a slower speed, so you need to compensate for that extra time.

You want clean pictures of the fireworks with no blurs, but crowded fireworks shows in Japan are not good places to set up tripods. You can either put the camera onto something flat and take the picture that way, or stand as still as possible, bring your arms in and hold them firmly against your sides, hold your breath in or out, and snap the photograph.

Take care not to get carried away with the beauty of the fireworks and zoom in more and more as your take your pictures. Pictures of fireworks become blurrier the more you zoom, so keep a reasonable distance in your viewfinder. Zoom out and get the night view and the surrounding environs to add some context and class to your pictures.

Taking pictures of smaller fireworks that glitter and move quickly is tough to do, so it’s better to focus on larger fireworks that shine bright and long like the ones in the grand finale.

Impress your date and enhance your summer memories with these easy fireworks photography tips!

Pictures and article by Miazaki Panama via Pouch

 Both of these pictures were taken from the same place with the same camera. Mine is on top while pro cameraman T’s is in the bottom. Proper settings make a world of difference!