Photographing Fireworks

Do you want to photograph the fireworks?

1. Get as close as you can.
2. Use a tripod.
3. Set your camera to ISO 200 and your exposure mode to manual, then set the shutter speed at 6 seconds and aperture (lens opening) to f11.
4. Watch where the first fireworks burst and aim the camera there.
5. Press the lens part-way to focus on the first bursts, then switch the lens to manual focus (so it will stay locked into the focus point you’ve just established). If the auto focus system is confused and doesn’t lock into a point of focus, have the lens on manual focus and wait for the next burst and set the focus yourself.
6. Get a feel for the pacing of how long in between each one, then anticipate when the next will go.
7. Use a remote trigger, if you have one (or be mindful of not moving the camera during the duration of the exposure) and make your first exposure.
8. Without moving the camera, take a look at what you captured. If the framing is off, make adjustments to create a better composition & if the focus (zoom in to check it) is off tweak that.
9. If the exposure is too dark, then either boost the ISO to 400 or open the aperture to f5.6 and try again. Adding a longer exposure time won’t make individual streaks of light any brighter, but it will allow the trails to go farther in the photo and it will allow more bursts to be recorded within one exposure.
10. Check the second exposure and make more adjustments as necessary, then once you’re happy, shoot away!

* Keep in mind that during the finale, there will be more bursts at once, so you probably will want to quickly stop down the aperture to a couple f/stops smaller, so as not to overexpose in the brightest white areas, since many bursts will overlap themselves and create a very hot (overexposed) spot.

Here’s hoping everyone has an enjoyable and safe Independence Day holiday. Cheers!


Image copyrighted. No use without licensing from Martha Lochert

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