How to Capture Spectacular Firework Images!
Content by: Jim Reed
Fourth of July firework displays provide a once-a-year opportunity to capture an amazing spectacle of streaming colors and designs with your camera. No two pictures are ever the same. In order to help you get the most out of this unique experience, no matter where you view them, we’ve put together this handy list of tips to help improve your chances.
- First, grab the right gear. Here’s what we recommend you take along for your Fireworks Photo Shoot: a Tripod, a cable release or wireless camera controller, a black cloth or black card, a wide-angle lens and a digital or film camera.
- Next, Scout your location. Be familiar with where you’ll be shooting, if you’re in an urban setting be conscious of skylines and buildings, if you’re in a more rural setting try to include the landscape. You’ll want to be in a position to have building or landscape backgrounds silhouetted.
- Use a tripod. A tripod is a photographer’s best friend and will allow you to have more control over the area you are shooting . Tripods are like having an extra hand to help you block the lens between explosions. If you choose not to use a tripod, the fireworks streamers will become wiggly, which can add to the images.
- Experiment. Use a wide-angle lens to take in a lot of the sky. If you are far away, a telephoto lens can work. Use a low ISO setting, 50 or 100 ISO has the lowest noise in digital capture. Film is the best for fireworks since it has greater latitude for the colors of the streamers, which are very bright.
- Learn your settings. Use a manual setting on your camera with a cable release or wireless controller. “B” for bulb setting or “T” if you don’t have bulb. For point-and-shoot cameras without manual settings, use “A” for aperture priority. Some point-and-shoot cameras already have the “Fireworks” mode built in. Consult your camera’s user manual.
- Play with long exposures. Set up your camera so that the shutter is open for long periods of time. Use a black, opaque cloth or a black card and hold it in front of the lens. When you want to expose a firework explosion, move the black card away from the lens for at least 2-4 seconds, then cover and wait for another few seconds for multiple exposures. Make sure that you do not touch the camera and add vibrations.
- Try testing the following exposures: f/5.6 with ISO 50, f/8 for ISO 100, and f/11 for ISO 200. Make adjustments to the exposure as needed such as opening up if too dark or closing down if too washed out.
- The sky’s the limit. If you like vivid blue sky, use the white balance setting for Tungsten. For an orange sky, use cloudy or shade.
- And, lastly and most importantly, have fun! Enjoy the show, and have a great 4th of July!