5 Steps to Getting Great Fireworks Photos at Walt Disney World

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The fireworks shows at Walt Disney World are amazing. The two biggies, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular at Magic Kingdom and Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot, are shown nightly. Even with numerous opportunities to take photos of the shows, I was often disappointed with the results when I got home. Finally, I did some research and found that once I knew what to do, it wasn’t that hard to get photos that looked as good as the show itself. If I can figure it out, so can you!

1. Pick a good location to shoot from. Choose a spot that is upwind from where the fireworks will be set off so that the smoke blows away from you and out of your photograph. Remember that the fireworks will explode high in the sky, so be sure to look up when choosing your spot. Make sure that your view will not be blocked by trees or buildings – although thoughtfully incorporating some things in the foreground will create a nice composition.

2. Use a tripod. It’s the only way to be sure you will get a sharp picture. Even better, combine the tripod with a remote shutter release.

3. Turn your flash off. The only thing it’s going to light is the back of the head of the person in front of you – not exactly the effect you’re going for!

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4. Use the right settings. If you have a point and shoot with a fireworks setting on your camera, use that. If not, set your camera to landscape. If you can manually set your camera, the following settings are a good place to start: ISO 100, 8-15 second shutter (10 is a good starting point), aperture f11-f22 (the brighter the fireworks, the higher this number should be). If the fireworks are blown out (all white) try lowering your shutter speed or setting your aperture to a higher number. If you want more fireworks in the shot or want longer streams, try lowering the shutter speed or setting your aperture to a lower number. Manually focus your camera on something in the far distance.

5. Take lots of photos. After the first few, take a look to make sure you’re getting what you want. Play around with using variations on the settings recommended.  You will have to fiddle with the settings some until you get the hang of it – that’s part of the fun.

Now enjoy the show!

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~ Barrie Brewer, Social Media Director

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