Today is Independence Day in the United States and fireworks displays are a huge part of the national celebration. They also happen to be one of my favorite things to capture in my camera. Not that I do anything with the images – I just love capturing them. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years of shooting these gorgeous light displays. (And if you are out without your tripod, see my post from last Friday about shooting fireworks handheld.)
- Use your best lens. I use a prime lens because it’s my best glass. My nifty-fifty is my favorite because it allows me to get a great overall image.
- Use a tripod with a super steady mount. You don’t want camera shake because your photos won’t be as crisp.
- If your camera has a timer that allows you to set it to take X number of exposures over a set period of time, use it. My Pentax allows me to do that and this is the bulk of what I use it for. The last Saturday of June I attended a fireworks show and set it to take 40 pictures 4 seconds apart with a 3 second exposure at f/11 and 100 ISO. The image above came from that shoot.
- Your settings are super important – for me, the best shots come when I shoot at 100 ISO, f11, for 3-5 seconds. Practice and check your camera screen for results to see if you like the 3 second shot better or the longer shot. I like both for different types of fireworks images. The shorter ones give me a sweet definition while the longer ones give me a better idea of the total explosion. So I really like the longer exposure for the grand finale (5-6 seconds). The shorter exposure (2-3 seconds) works really well for the individual explosions.
So go out and have fun! Enjoy your local fireworks shows tonight and don’t forget your tripod.