We Simplify The Technical!

Step by step instructions on photographing fireworks from how to choose
the best location to camera settings, equipment and more! Third-time guest
David Sussman gives us such great tips and explains the how and why so well!


*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

How to Photograph Fireworks with David Sussman


The Proven Formula

  • Set up on a tripod
  • Use a shutter release CABLE (remote releases are not always reliable)
  • ISO 200
  • f/11 
  • 1/10 sec to 30 sec shutter speed
  • Set focus to Infinity 
  • Try a wide angle lens (15mm up to 50mm) for better depth of field
  • Keep the wind at your back

*this formula also works well for photographing lightning* 


  • Call the event organizer to get the exact location they are being shot from.
  • Scout locations for the best viewing.

   – Look at foreground options.  

   – Plan your entrance AND exit strategies – traffic will be terrible.

  • Check weather apps for wind speed and direction.

   – Try to keep the wind at your back.  Smoke and debris can ruin a great image.

Timing Your Shots 

  • Use longer exposures in the beginning of the show to capture multiple bursts or to capture the whole explosion from the ground up and shorter exposures later in the show to eliminate extra smoke.
  • Time it and try it.  Count how many seconds it takes from launch to explosion to fade and set your shutter accordingly.  Push the shutter release at the sound of the initial launch or just capture the burst.  There will be plenty of opportunity for experimentation.  Average time for individual bursts is 2-5 seconds. 

Photographing Fireworks from a Boat

  • Stabilize the boat as best you can with anchors fore and aft.
  • There will always be some traffic on the water to cause movement.
  • Limited to 1 second exposures
  • About 50% of images will be blurry due to movement.
  • BUT – you’ll get views that most others won’t and you may avoid heavy traffic. 

Post-Processing Tips

Stack shorter exposures to get multiple bursts in one frame.


  Choose your images and place in individual layers.

  Go into Layer Mode

    – choose the Lighten option

    – play with Blending modes

    — this mode allows the LIGHT from the stacked images to show through.


Finding David



Episode 13   Episode 127 

Mentioned on the Show

Photoshop Cram Course



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Gear Recommendation of the Week

MK Lightning Bug

The MK Lightning Bug is based upon the science of lightning. There are two components of lightning; the bright white flash everyone wants to capture and the unseen infrared light that always precedes it. The Lightning Bug uses a high-speed photodiode sensor optimized to the infrared burst that occurs just before a lightning strike. The Lightning Bug acts as a lookout for your camera, watching for a change in infrared light. When a significant change of infra-red light over a very short period of time is detected, it directs the camera shutter to trip and capture the lightning in action.

Florida’s Best Photo Spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

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David Sussman Fireworks Wewa
David Sussman fireworks_wewa
Fireworks Punta Gorda 2016 from the water
David Sussman AmericanFlag_Fireworks

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