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Shooting Fireworks

Tips for better fireworks photography.

With July 4 just a few days away, fireworks displays are a sure thing weather permitting. Because of their bright colors and interesting burst patterns, fireworks make a good subject for photography and the technique for shooting fireworks is rather simple. The gallery includes some of the photos I shot at last year's 4th of July fireworks in Narberth. All the photos were taken from inside the Narberth Park, but you do not have to be at the source to photograph firepworks. If you can see them, you can photograph them wherever you are. Here's how.

  • Use a tripod if you have one. If not, brace you camera against a chair, tree, or other stable object.
  • Use a cable shutter release if you have one. If not, be careful to release the shutter with light pressure to avoid camera motion. 
  • Set the focus control of your lens on manual.  Autofocus is useless when shooting fireworks. 
  • Set the focus point to infinity, the ∞ symbol.
  • Set the exposure mode to manual. Auto exposure will not work with bright light against a black sky.
  • Set the ISO to 200. Fireworks are bright and high ISOs are not needed.
  • Set the aperture to f/8 to and the shutter speed to 2 seconds to start. 

Then shoot the first fireworks burst and review it on the LCD screen of your camera. If it looks too dark, increase the shutter speed to 3 seconds. If it the first shot is too bright and the colors are washed out, close the aperture down to f/11. Then shoot another test shot and adjust settings again if needed. Once you have the settings right, for best results just continue shooting with them.

It's that simple. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lucy Bennett June 28, 2012 at 05:09 AM
These are great tips Richard. Thanks for sharing.
Sonja Keohane July 04, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I find it best if the camera is set to "bulb" so that any shutter speed can be chosen depending on the image desired. Sometimes times of up to 5 sec are the best.

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