Tips for Great Fireworks Pictures

SOLFW_smallIndependence Day is just a few days away, and if you are like me, you love to take pictures of all the day’s events, including fireworks displays. While your average family snapshots are a breeze with most of today’s automatic point-and-shoot and semi-automatic cameras, capturing fireworks can be somewhat tricky. So I have prepared a few tips to help you make the most of those opportunities. 

  1.  Find a good display to photograph and get as close as possible. Nothing is worse than a meager display or being so far removed from the action that the display is overshadowed by the back of the crowd.
  2. Usually, using a tripod is my number 1 tip, but although I have relegated it to number 2 here it is still important nonetheless. The reason I say use a tripod is that because it is dark you will need a long exposure to capture the burst and to avoid a blurry picture. Even with today’s anti-shake technology built into cameras and lenses blurry pictures will result from even the slightest movement in a long exposure picture.
  3. Some of today’s new cameras may actually have a “fireworks” mode, and if so, set it to that (I am not intimately familiar with every make and model of camera, sorry folks). If not, put your camera in manual mode and set the shutter speed to 5 seconds, aperture to f8, and ISO to 200 for starters. Snap an image and see how in looks. If needed, adjust only the shutter speed, leaving aperture and ISO as is. A longer shutter speed will allow the burst to expand in your image. But beware, at the end of the show fireworks usually come in fast and furious, so a slower shutter speed may overexpose the image. Adjust down as needed.
  4. If you can, include a landmark in your image. This will help with scale and may provide some relevance. Also, as the fireworks burst over or near that landmarks, they will illuminate it nicely.
  5. Take a lot of photos and discard the bad ones! Digital camera allow us to take a lot of photos with no cost, so shoot away. And ask yourself the question when editing that is always asked of me: “what are you going to do with that picture?” If the answer is not post in my online album, share with friends, or print and/or frame, then maybe it needs to end up in your computers recycle bin.

 Best wishes for great fireworks photos and from my family to yours, have a safe and sane 4th of July!

 Blessings,

Chris.

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