Tutorials, Tips and Techniques for Photographing Fireworks and Light Painting

By LaurenMarie

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S. and I thought it would be fun to share some firework and light painting/writing tutorials and galleries. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration and take your camera out with you tonight for the festivities.

Research and Ideas

First you have to do some research and come up with ideas for your shots. You’ll be more satisfied with your collection when you look back on it tomorrow if you don’t leave everything to chance (that’s not to say some of the best shots won’t be spur-of-the-moment!).

Flickr is an excellent source for firework photography. See if you can find unique angles, compositions or subjects.

Sparkling Red Wine

I love this Sparkling Wine photo. Isn’t that a great idea? Capture different elements of your holiday together in one shot! Perfect! Sparkling Red Wine by byron.bently in Sparks (a different kind of fireworks)

Multicolored Rain

Just because a shot doesn’t turn out exactly as you plan, doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting! Multicolored Rain by Sibelian in Fireworks Failures

USA Light Writing

Sparklers on the 4th of July were the original source of light writing! USA by The Rhodesian also from Sparks (a different kind of fireworks)

Fuegos Artificiales

There are two huge fireworks groups on Flickr, Fireworks – Just Fireworks and Fireworks. Fuegos Artificiales by Imagenes2007

Night + Camera + Car = Art

Night + Camera + Car = Art will give you some quick ideas for artistic photos.

Saint by MRI

Cult Case features some different takes on light art. Take a look at the M::R::I photostream on Flickr, too.

About this time last year we started noticing light drawing and light writing becoming trendy. David features some artists in Light Drawing and Light Writing.

Tutorials, Tips and Techniques for Shooting Fireworks

Now that you have some ideas, pick up some techniques to maximize the success of each shot.

How to Photograph Firework Displays from Digital Photography School has excellent tips and a list of points to consider when planning your shots. And you might also check out Using Water to Lighten Landscape Photos. I know it’s not fireworks, but similar principles could apply. It would look pretty sweet to have your fireworks or sparklers reflected in water (if you have some around).

Photographing Fireworks is a nice quick bullets of the basics to remember (though it doesn’t go into detail about how to do things)

How to Photograph Fireworks has tips/advice and links to other tutorials for shooting on a variety of camera types from SLRs to Digital Point and Shoot cameras.

Fireworks Photography Basics and Fireworks Photography Advanced from About.com. It’s also recommended that you master the basics of night photography.

Shooting Fireworks: Capture the Spectacle is a collection of advice from Smithsonian photographers “to help make your next pyrotechnic photography the best yet.”

4th of July Fireworks Tips

Tutorials, Tips and Techniques for Light Writing and Light Drawing/Painting

Photoshop Action Freebie

If you don’t have time to actually take pictures yourself, use PSDtuts Light Painting tutorial and also the Light Writing tutorial, as well as the Photoshop Action offered as a free download on Creative Curio to create a similar effect in Photoshop.

Love by Christopher Hibbert

Learning Light Painting from Abduzeedo (this article was written by Christopher Hibbert, who also created the photograph above, titled Love).

Painting with Light from DIY Photography is a quick and easy article to read through.


Sometimes there’s a tree in the way or the shot isn’t quite straight. Give your images some Photoshop (or GIMP!) lovin’.

Kristarella tells us how she cleaned up a fireworks photo in Fun with Fireworks in GIMP

If you want to know how to put your fireworks in front of another background, try Removing the background with Photoshop Channels.

Want to share your favorite firework photos, tips or tutorials? Drop a link in the comments! Got a great photography or Photoshop tip of your own? Leave that in the comments, too!

Happy 4th of July!!