10 Simple Steps: How to Capture a Time Lapse of Fireworks (My best secrets and VIDEO)

The best part of the 4th of July is capturing the fireworks!  For those of you who want to try something super fun, consider capturing a time lapse of fireworks this year!  The time lapse video below was done from my parents’ balcony last year.  Follow these ten steps to set yourself up for success, while keeping it simple!

Me Ra Koh_SONY a900_ how to capture time lapse of Fireworks

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.  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 you have the SONY NEX6, there is a Time Lapse camera setting for Fireworks.  Set it to that and DONE–pass Go and collect your $100!  If you are not using the SONY NEX6, 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.)

Again, if you have the SONY NEX6, you can bypass steps #5, #6, #7 and #8 because the camera will figure all those settings out for you.  Pretty cool, right?  But if you don’t have it, you know what to do!

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 CS6 software.   (Adobe Premiere Elements 11 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 from last year below!

Check out my best photo tips on how to photograph fireworks with before and after examples if you prefer to focus on getting a great photo. This post has been pinned 197 times!  I promise that you’ll like it!  But you’ve got to promise that you’ll share your fireworks photo results on my FB page next week!  I would LOVE to see and comment on your photos!


Happy 4th of July everyone!



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Article Posted 3 years Ago
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