Each shot has exactly the same shutter speed, aperture, focus and ISO; only the white balance setting has been changed between each one.
They were taken on a DSLR with a 50mm lens. No post-processing has been done except for cropping, resizing and then sharpening. The white balance setting is shown on the left and the setting name and temperature is listed as shown on the camera. White balance is a setting on your camera that affects how your photographs are processed to compensate for different coloured lighting. Although you might not realise it – because our brains are so good at automatically adjusting – sunlight is a different colour to light through clouds, which in turn is a different colour to tungsten or fluorescent lighting indoors. Your camera will usually take a best guess when in automatic mode to try and ensure any parts of the image it thinks should be neutral (white or grey) remain as such and do not end up with a coloured tint. It doesn’t always get things right and it is even harder with fireworks because most of the frame is black sky leaving the camera little to go on.
I was quite surprised by these results in particular how different the colours are rendered at the two extremes. These images definitely confirm that the white balance setting can have a drastic effect on your photos. Also, the potential for the auto mode to produce odd results because the camera might pick any of the above settings.
So, which setting to use? This will be down to personal preference and which row of results are the most pleasing to your eye. For me, I’m drawn to the results of the gold sparkler to help decide. The top setting is clearly too silver and the bottom a bit too saturated for me, so I would pick the daylight one. Although daylight doesn’t render red and green quite as accurately as the fluorescent setting above it, there is still enough hint of these colours, whereas moving down to cloudy and they get a little too yellow.
Blue is missing from this test because the sparklers I had (with thanks to Firework Emporium who I scrounged them off!) were red and green only. However I can confirm I’ve taken hundreds of firework display photos with the daylight setting and blues and purples come out lovely.