4th of July is just around the corner, and with this holiday comes spectacular displays of explosions! I recently shot a wedding with a firework show, and I wanted to show you how I captured the best firework image with a simple composite trick. Check it out in the video and article below!

How to Capture Stunning Firework Portraits

Camera Gear and Lighting

  • Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
  • Lens: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
  • Lighting: Lowel GL-1
  • Lighting Modifier: Westcott Umbrella

In this scene, I didn’t have much time; the fireworks show began and ended within 5-8 minutes and in that time, I had to place my couple, set up my lighting, get my shot, and still have time for them to enjoy the show. This is why I opted to use a constant light (Lowel GL-1 shooting through Wescott Umbrella) instead of a flash¬†because it’s much quicker to set up. This also allows for the other photographers and videographers to get their shots as well.


Shooting For Composite

When I was shooting this shot, I kept in mind that I was shooting for a composite. Instead of focusing on getting everything decent in one shot, I was focusing on getting individual things perfect in separate images. So in one image I got the couple’s pose and expression perfect, and in the other images I was shooting for fireworks.


Editing in Lightroom

When we select the images we want to composite, we also want to develop them the same, so they blend easier in Photoshop. The trick here is to edit one image and synchronize your edit across the images. Keep in mind you will have to make slight exposure adjustments to individual photos because of the brightness discrepancies in between explosions.


Combining in Photoshop

Now that you’ve selected your images for the composite, you’re ready to combine them in Photoshop. The first thing you want to do after you get your images in is to select the “Lighten” blend mode. This blend mode enables the top layer to only show on the bottom layer areas that are brighter than the bottom layer. From here on out, we simply mask out the unwanted areas of the images and are left with our final result. For more clarification on Photoshop compositing, just jump to the 9-minute mark in the video.


Our Final Image and Conclusion


I hope you enjoyed how I shot and edited this image. Are there any other pictures you would like to know how to capture?