By July 4, 2013 1 Comments

Shooting Fireworks – The Hybrid Way!

Watching fireworks has got to be one of the most fun things for kids and kids at heart.

I’m definitely one of those (I’ll let you decide which one!)

This year I had the opportunity to watch the Canada Day fireworks from a friend’s balcony. What a treat! Even though it was a party atmosphere, I was still able to experiment a bit with camera settings and also shoot some video clips.

My sweet spot for fireworks shutter speed was 1 second.

  • Yup. One measly secondo.
  • I set the ISO on 400 and used Shutter priority.

Timing is everything!

When you shoot still photos of fireworks using such a short shutter speed, timing is really important. You have to learn to watch when the fireworks are released and time it so you press the shutter when the burst is at the maximum. It’s easy to predict if you pay attention.

I pressed the video record button.

I was still in Shutter priority mode and 400 ISO. I just let the camera do its thing. With video, you do occasionally get some overexposure. If you are worried about that you can use the exposure compensation and set it to -1 or -2 ev and that will keep the blacks blacker. But I don’t mind a bit of light in the sky as it usually adds nice color too.

Composition was a consideration too.

I also like to shoot fireworks with a cityscape in the background, so this downtown location was perfect. It adds context and I like how the city lights blend in with the fireworks.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Most people would never think to start with a shutter speed of 1 second! Try it for yourself. And don’t forget your tripod.

Assembling the hybrid eProduct.

  • All video and stills were shot with the Lumix GH3
  • I shot jpgs, and the photos used in the show are right out of the camera
  • I recorded lots of video and it took a long time to go through it and take out the best parts
  • Nothing was edited except trimming and exporting of the clips in Lightroom to mp4 format
  • My show was assembled using ProShow Web
  • The music comes with the ProShow software and you can use it for commercial purposes
  • Total assembly time was about 90 minutes, mostly due to the video sorting


Some of the stills were taken during the video recording (you can do that with mirrorless cameras), and they were automatically set to at ISO 5000 with a shutter speed of 1/60s. You can really see the noise in those shots. But the ones shot at 400 ISO are clean!

About the Author:

With over 20 years as a pro shooting editorial, sports, corporate and industrial photography, Marlene Hielema has become comfortable with the craft of digital output. As a photo and video tinkerer and troubleshooter, Marlene enjoys relaying the practical uses of photo and video hardware and software that you might not find on the manufacturer's or software publisher's websites. Thousands have seen her work on YouTube and her popular site where Marlene teaches photography and photo editing online, in the classroom, and one-to-one. Find out more about what Marlene can help you with here on discovermirrorless, as well as and

1 Comment on "Shooting Fireworks – The Hybrid Way!"

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  1. tualatinweb says:

    I noticed that the exposure from your first and second images was quite different, so why not shoot in Full Manual mode to get completely consistent exposure? I prefer to shoot with 8 second exposure on fireworks. Happy shooting.

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