Fireworks!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

I know this is last-minute, but I thought I’d throw out some tips for taking pictures of fireworks.  I’m not even sure I’ll be able to take any this year, so hopefully I can live vicariously through you, instead.

Tips:

1. Take a tripod. A must!  If you have a point and shoot camera and no tripod, grab a small bean bag or a bag of uncooked pinto beans; snuggle your point and shoot onto one of these, and it will work somewhat like a tripod, only make sure folks don’t step on your camera, if you are setting it on the ground.

2.  Try these settings for your camera:

  • Put your DSLR camera into full Manual Mode (M on your dial).  Point and shoot cameras–Landscape Mode (the mountain symbol)–this will tell your lens to focus to infinity.
  • Dial in your aperture to f/5.6 (you may need to go up to f/8 or f/11, but start with f/5.6).
  • Dial in your shutter speed to 1 full second (use that tripod!).
  • ISO setting of 100 should be fine, but you can, and may need to, go up as high as 400 without affecting the quality of the pictures.
  • Set your DSLR lens to infinity (the sideways 8 symbol).  Point and shooters have solved this by choosing Landscape Mode.
  • Turn off your flash.
  • If you know there will be multiple fireworks going off simultaneously, set your timer to 2 secs.  That way, you can press the shutter button and not have to worry about shaking the camera during the longer shutter speed.  Or, grab your shutter release cable, if you have one.

If these settings are not correct, it’s just a matter of tweaking your shutter speed and possibly your ISO.  Leave everything else alone.  If the fireworks are too blown-out (too light), then speed up your shutter speed (dial to a higher number).  If the picture is too dark, slow your shutter speed down (dial to a lower number)–this is where your tripod comes in handy.

3.  Be sure to check your viewfinder after the first few fireworks to be sure you are getting the proper settings.  Once you’ve dialed it in properly, it’s just a matter of sitting back and letting the camera do its work.

4.  Take some shots of just the fireworks, but also, if you can, place objects in your shot, to create a nice composition.  (Obviously, if you add a building or people into the picture, you must compensate for the extra light, if there is any.)

Hope that helps to get you started!

Happy Fireworks Shooting!

E.

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