· Holidays · 4th of July · Sparkler Art — The Secret To Taking Great Fireworks Photos!

Sparkler Art — The Secret To Taking Great Fireworks Photos!

sparkler art

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you all have some fun and safe activities planned. :-) One of the fun things we did last year was take some pictures using sparklers! Well OK, *I* didn’t take them…my daughter-in-law Kaitlyn took them, but I was SO impressed when I saw them. I had NO IDEA that ANYONE could capture such amazing images using just a regular camera.

Since I’m pretty sure most of us will be either watching or participating in some fireworks activity tonight, I thought I would ask Kaitlyn to share with us how she accomplished this “photo magic.”

Take it away Kaitlyn……….

Jill asked me to share some tips on taking fun photos with your holiday sparklers. Maybe some of you have seen photos like the one above floating around Facebook and Instagram.

Since I grew up in Southern California where fireworks are illegal because of the fire danger, I had never been able to use sparklers. So last year when I got to use sparklers for the first time I just had to try taking some of these cool photos.

sparkler art


  • Sparklers & lighter or matches
  • DSLR camera or point-and-shoot camera
  • Tripod or a flat, sturdy surface
  • Friends (1 or more)


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If you are using a point-and-shoot, set your camera to “night-scene.” While on night-scene, you won’t have to make any f-stop or shutter adjustments.

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For DSLRs, set the camera to “manual.” Adjust your aperture to 16 and your ISO to 1000. Your shutter speed, for a non-flash photo, should be about 3 seconds to capture the sparkler’s light, as well as illuminate your friends a little bit.
sparkler art 5 (I like to put my camera on the “Shutter Preferred” mode – on my Nikon it’s the “S” mode. Using the S setting on the camera allows you to tell the camera to set everything else…except the shutter speed.)

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Once you get your settings down, put your camera on a tripod or a flat, sturdy surface to insure that you camera stays totally still. Since your shutter will stay open for so long, any movement of the camera will affect the outcome of your picture.

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Just a fun design!

Now you’re ready for sparklers! Decide if you want to spell something out or just make a fun design. Once the photographer pushes down the shutter release (the button you press to take the picture) start drawing your desired design in the air with your sparkler. Draw it as many times as you can while the shutter stays open. Drawing slowly creates a thicker sparkler line, while quicker drawing creates a thinner one.

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E for Erik, K for Kaitlyn :-)

If you are spelling something out, you’ll have to spell it backwards for it to turn out right in the photo (or you can flip it horizontally in your image editing program.)

Try out a few pictures and adjust the shutter speed up (or faster) if the pictures are too bright, and down (slower) if the pictures are too dark. Once you get the exposure set you can go crazy with sparklers!

Have fun taking your photos! And be safe with your fireworks :)


*If you have a fancy DSLR camera that you have no idea how to use, I recommend this awesome series by The Pioneer Woman.


Sparkler art 2

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Holy wow! Thank you for sharing this! I am excited to try it out! I don’t know anything about the settings, but am grateful for your tutorial. Happy 4th of July!
    Much love.

  • Don’t use a bic-type lighter to light sparklers–the burst of flame when the spaarkler lights can cause the lighter to explode in your hand. It happened to me–luckily, I only had a burned thumb, but injuries can be far more severe.

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