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Capture Brilliant Fireworks Photos
Capture Brilliant Fireworks Photos

To take great shots of fireworks, youíve got to be versed on a few things. With these short tips, learn how to select the right Scene Mode in your camera, how to adjust your cameraís manual functions, or how to steady yourself for nighttime photos and create light trail effects.

Setting the scene for fireworks

Summer is known for great fireworks displays. Olympus is known for great camera scene modes. Coincidence? No way. Your first step in taking great pictures of fireworks is to simply select the Fireworks Scene Mode*. The camera will then slow the shutter speed value and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

If your camera doesnít have scene modes or is able to support a high-level of manual control, set the camera to manual mode (M) and adjust the shutter speed and aperture. Setting the aperture to F8 and a shutter speed of 3 to 4 seconds should give good results. Set the ISO sensitivity to 100. And don't forget to change to MF (manual focus) and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

More picture-taking tips for fireworks
  • If possible, try to shoot the fireworks so that they are downwind from your position. If you are downwind of the fireworks, you may lose visibility because of the smoke.
  • Itís a good idea to have a penlight handy in case you need to replace the memory card or battery in the dark.
  • Donít forget about Movie mode. If your camera supports it, take a movie of the fireworks to capture the exciting finale in its entirety.
  • Try using your cameraís self timer to eliminate camera shake when manually pressing the shutter button.
Creating a trail of lights with a sparkler Sparkler light trails

Olympus cameras feature a variety of ways to easily capture amazing photos with light trails. Depending on what camera model you own, try experimenting with any of the following methods:

Use Night Scene+Portrait mode to capture amazing photos of light trails. This Scene Mode will fire a flash to illuminate your subject – but it will also keep the shutter open long enough to capture a light trail. If your camera does not have Fireworks Scene Mode or Night Scene+Portrait, your best alternative is to try Night Mode while using a tripod.

SP, SZ, XZ, and C-Series owners:
Some Olympus cameras include special flash modes that can give you even more control over this effect. For more information about these flash modes, view this page.

TG-4, TG-870, or SH-2 Owners:
Prepare to be amazed by our new Live Composite mode. When shooting a photo with normal bulb shooting, the overall picture may over expose and get too bright if you are not careful. Live Composite Mode, on the other hand, takes the newly bright areas only and composites them into a single image while you watch the progress on your LCD monitor. This makes it especially useful for capturing fireworks together with buildings in the foreground. Moreover, you can use your flash to emphasize a moment, object or person during the exposure, or even use a pen light or sparkler to write letters.

To learn more about Live Composite mode - including how to activate it - check out our tutorial video.

Fireworks Fireworks Fireworks

Have an OM-D, PEN or E-System camera? Check out these advanced tips for shooting fireworks photos.

Keeping it steady
How to hold your camera

Because of the slow shutter speed required to pick up light at night, a tripod will help you get the best, blur-free fireworks photos. If you donít have a tripod handy, find another way to keep your camera steady. Try using a flat surface to place the camera. Or, when using the fireworks scene mode, brace the camera against your body as best you can to keep it as still as possible. However, this method may not produce good results in manual mode when setting the shutter speed to greater than one second.

Bracing the camera: Hold the camera still using both hands. Compose your shot and then press the shutter button half way down to lock exposure and focus. Inhale, then exhale about halfway and hold. While holding you breath, press the shutter button down completely. Then exhale completely.