Fireworks Friday Tutorial – Wishes over Rivers of America

By Adam Hansen on September 2nd, 2011   |    Posted in:  Processing   |    3 Comments

We are including a second bonus post today on Disney Photography Blog. As many of you know, there are many photographers who post their Disney photos daily on flickr. On Friday’s, many of these photographers post their Disney fireworks photo on what has become known as “Fireworks Friday” within the community. Today, four of us posted a fireworks photo from the same location (Todd Hurley, Cory Disbrow, Myself and Jeff Krause). It is great to see how one scene can be photographed four completely different ways.

I decided to do a quick tutorial on the processing method I used for my photo. To start with, here is the original shot direct from the camera – it is obvious that work needs to be done to fix this. For me, the entire time spent processing this was about five minutes. I use Adobe Lightroom for all my processing and usually break it down into two steps: Cropping/White Balance and Adjusting Color.

Wishes over Rivers of America - original shot

Step One:

The very first thing I do (even before cropping) is adjust the White Balance. In this case, I adjusted it as: Temp: 2850, Tint: +14 which happened to be the Auto settings in Adobe Lightroom. I then tested a few different crop ideas until I decided on what I liked best. You can see the adjusted white balance and crop in the next photo:

Step Two:

I now will adjust the Exposure, Fill Light, Color, Clarity and any final adjustments needed.

For this photo, I am not adjusting the Exposure, Brightness or Contrast at all. What I did do though was increase the Fill Light slider to 57. That allowed me to lighten the entire scene, but be careful because increasing this too much will cause your photo to have noise. I then adjusted the Clarity slider just a bit, to +31. That allowed things to look just a bit sharper, especially the fireworks burst itself.

Next, I wanted to adjust the color. I had thought about using the Vibrance or Saturation slider but was not happy with the results. So instead I used the sliders found in the Color Calibration tab of Lightroom. This allows me to manually adjust the Red, Green and Blue channels of the photo. I adjusted the Red Saturation Slider to +15, Green Saturation Slider to +33 and finally the Blue Saturation Slider to +3.

The final step was a quick one, I just applied Lens Correction which is very easy in Adobe Lightroom as they have many presets already.

That is it! It only took me a few minutes to make these adjustments and I ended up with a final photo that is much better than what I started with.

Wishes over Rivers of America


I hope this quick tutorial was able to teach you something and give you some ideas the next time you process a fireworks photo.


  1. Todd Hurley   |   Sep 3, 2011

    Nice tutorial, Adam. I love the color, temperature, and exposure of your finished image. Have to add that your raw image SOOC looks pretty good too.

  2. Stacey   |   Sep 6, 2011

    These are the posts I love from you guys! They really do help me even if I don’t use the editing software. It gives me an idea of what you start with and what you end with. I don’t feel so discouraged that my photos don’t come SOOC looking like your finished products.

  3. Dogstardaddy   |   Sep 22, 2011

    Thanks so much for breaking down the post production work on this. I’ve been pouring over the e-book since I first got it, and additional info like this helps alot. Our next trip is over Christmas, and I’m hoping to absorb at least a small part of what you’ve been trying to teach, so I can get some great shots while we’re there.



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