Shooting Independence Day Fireworks

So, I made recent inquiries (to the Loudoun Photo Club and on Twitter) for tips on photographing fireworks since July 4th is quickly approaching. I thought I would consolidate the advice I received into this post, test it out, and then show the resulting photos from this weekend in a future post. Thank you to all who sent your suggestions! Feel free to add more to the comments.

  • Use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
  • Get to the display early to find the best vantage point.
  • Consider having foreground or background elements in the image as they make the scene more interesting and add scale.
  • Use manual focus and focus on an object close to where the fireworks will be set off from.
  • Plan to take lots of photos and delete about 75% of them.
  • Set shutter speed to “bulb” mode. This allows you to keep the shutter open while you press the button and the shutter won’t close until you release the button.
  • Use a remote or cable release instead of the on-camera button to prevent camera shake.
  • Open the shutter when the rocket starts it’s flight and close as the firework explodes so there is not a gaping black whole in the center of the firework. Should be about 2 seconds, but can range from 1/2 second to 5 seconds. Keep the shutter open longer to have multiple bursts in one image, but not too long or you’ll end up with “big blobs of light.”
  • Most recommended setting the aperture to f/8, but the suggested range was anywhere from f/8-f/11.
  • Set White Balance to Tungsten.
  • Set ISO to 200.

One person recommended this page and which seems to have some good information:

Have a very happy and safe Independence Day!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to photograph any fireworks this year. So, I’ll have to wait until next year to try out these techniques.

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