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Monday, July 5, 2010

How to Shoot Fireworks

Well, shooting fireworks last night was a bit challenging because there were NONE. It's a bit tricky when you set up your camera on the tripod with a wide angle lens thinking that fireworks will be nearby so why bother with a telephoto. I found a cool spot on the top of the roof and waited for the fireworks on St. Pete Beach. Since nothing happened for a while I decided to go ahead and shoot the fireworks on Pass-A-Grille. My images would have been better if the fireworks would have been closer. So my advice is to make sure that fireworks will be where you are standing because if you miss these shots you may have to wait for months... Still don't know what happened to the fireworks on St. Pete Beach....

The hardest for me was to anticipate when most of the fireworks will go off. You want to press the shutter release when the firework start and finish before they end. Otherwise you will have less spectacular shots...

Here are the steps to take good fireworks images:
1. location and lens (use wide if you want to include background and a telephoto for closeup)
2. use the "bulb" mode in your camera or slow shutter speed (experiment). For my shots I used the bulb mode,and I pressed down the shutter release button when the fireworks started. I checked back to see if my shots were properly exposed. If my shots were overexposed I used a higher fstop to let in less light.
3. I used higher aperture (f16 and f18)
3. low ISO (100 or 200)- NEVER go with higher ISO as you will have grainy images. While grain sometimes can be cool in night shots, I would not use high ISO when I shoot fireworks.
4. TRIPOD!!!!! Tripod is needed for all low light photos. Do not use monopod instead of tripod, they are two different beasts. I literally had to force myself to bring a tripod for this photoshoot as I very rarely use one. I would use next time a sturdier tripod because of the winds. Also, turn off the vibration reduction on your lens if you use tripod.
5. cable release is necessary but I had none. It was hard to fight wind therefore my images are not as clear. So buy a cable release before you shoot fireworks!
6. Manual Exposure!!!!
7. Manual Focus because at night lenses just don't focus well on auto focus.

Fourth of July Photogallery on Flickr

More tutorials

Darren Rowse's tutorial
Scott Kelby's post

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