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How to Enhance Fireworks with Digital Photo Professional

Visually spectacular, fireworks make an attractive photographic subject. However, your shots of them might look duller than expected if you don’t post-process them properly. Here is how you can enhance them using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software. (Reported by Gensaku Izumiya, Digital Camera Magazine)


Why do we need to post-process our photos?

Two elements make a great fireworks photo: Colour vibrancy and the sharpness of the lines. However, during the actual shoot, our energy is focused on capturing the shape of the fireworks, leaving little time to tweak the colour tones for optimal results.

This is when it helps to shoot in RAW format, which gives you more room to edit the file later on using image processing software. Using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, available to Canon users for free, you can adjust colour tones and optimise image quality so that the fireworks in your shot are just as brilliant as when you saw them.


EOS 5DS/ EF11-24mm f/4L USM/ FL: 11mm/ Manual exposure: (f/22, 12 sec)/ ISO 50/ WB: Auto


Step 1: Reduce the effects of diffraction using Digital Lens Optimiser

When photographing fireworks, we usually need to use a very narrow aperture (such as f/22) to achieve optimal exposure. However, this also results in diffraction, which causes the lines of the fireworks to become blurred.

This can be corrected in Digital Photo Professional 4 by using the Digital Lens Optimiser (DLO) feature*. Simply turn it on to sharpen the blurry lines. The default DLO setting is “50”. Adjust it as needed while paying attention to the resulting image quality.

*Not available for images shot in the compressed C-RAW format. To benefit from DLO in post-processing, record in full RAW format.

Screenshot of Digital Lens Optimizer enabled in DPP

GIF showing differences before and after applying DLO

On the tool palette, click on the lens icon. Select the checkbox for Digital Lens Optimiser and adjust the setting accordingly.


Step 2: Adjust the white balance to make your fireworks look more surreal

The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting helps to correctly reproduce the colours of the evening view in the background. However, it also makes the fireworks look yellowish. In general, the ideal colour temperature for fireworks should be somewhere between 2,700K and 3,600K.

Use “Fine-tune” for finer adjustment of the tone.

White balance adjustment palette on DPP

GIF comparing closeup before and after colour temperature adjustment


Step 3: Deepen the blue tone using the Colour Adjustment tool palette 

The sky at the lower right edge of the image appeared slightly too bright, so I reduced the level of “L” (brightness) for “Blue” in the Colour Adjustment tool palette to deepen the blue tone. A deeper-coloured background also makes the dazzling fireworks stand out better in contrast.

Adjusting blue tones on Color Adjustment palette

GIF showing close-up before and after blue tones are adjusted


For more post-processing tips and tutorials, check out:
RAW Image Processing: How to Bring Out the Blue in Blue Hour Photos
Landscape Photography: Quick Tips for Stunning Deep Focused Images
Useful EOS M5 Techniques: In-camera RAW Image Post-Processing


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Digital Camera Magazine

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Gensaku Izumiya

Gensaku Izumiya

Born in Akita in 1959, photographing fireworks has been a lifelong passion for Izumiya. He mainly photographs landscapes, commercials, people, goods, and cooking, and creates photos of fire and water. A member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society.