Happy 4th of July! (+ Learn How to Photograph Writing With Sparklers)

We’re celebrating Independence Day with a simple camera trick you can learn in no time flat.

Happy Independence Day! Whether you’re spending today at the beach, barbecue, or road tripping solo like me, all of us here on the BLDG 25 blog team wish you the happiest 4th.

To help you celebrate, today we’re sharing a simple photography trick to help you capture the fun this evening and all summer long. Ever wonder how to capture writing with sparklers on-camera? While it may look complicated, the process is surprisingly easy and is the perfect way to take advantage of warm summer nights. Grab a friend or two, some sparklers, and make some magic!


What you need:

A friend (or a few!)



Flashlight or phone

Sparklers + lighter

First, scout out your location. A large open area works well, like your back yard or a park. Mount the camera to the tripod and have a friend stand where they’ll be writing with the sparkler. Use the flashlight or phone to have them light themselves while you get your focus.

To capture the movement of the light with your camera, you want to have the camera set for a long exposure. For a dark night with a few street lamps around, I had my shutter speed set at 10 seconds at f11 with an ISO of 100. For longer text (the ‘Free’ and ‘People’ you see above) I changed things up to 15 seconds at f9. The best way to figure out if your settings are correct for the situation is to do a test run with your phone. Have your friend practice writing with their phone while you take photos and test the settings:


You have a couple of choices when it comes to writing – you can write forwards — which will show up backwards on-camera —  and flip it later in post-production. Or, you or your friend can write backwards and have it show up forwards on-camera. Again, the only way to know what works best is to try! Cursive is easiest, but block lettering looks great, too.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Once your camera settings are where you want them to be it’s time to light off some sparklers! Have your friend who is doing the writing stay where you’ve focused on them and then light off the sparkler for them before moving back to the camera to fire off the shutter. It’ll take some experimentation, but I can guarantee you’ll have fun!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

+ How are you celebrating today? please share in the comments!

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  1. I have ALWAYS wondered how this is being done, thanks for the tip :) Can I use a regular NIKON digi cam to do this?

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