June 28, 2013

9 Tips for Photographing July 4th Fireworks

Independence Day is only a couple days away and we’re all excited to see the fireworks celebration! Fireworks are so beautiful and amazing, but can be hard to photograph if you want to remember the moment. These tips should help you capture beautiful fireworks photos this 4th of July.

  1. Keep it Steady, Use a Tripod. Fireworks are launched at night, and in low light situations, your camera has to use longer exposures to capture the action. The key to great-looking fireworks shots is to keep the camera steady. Use a tripod or, if that’s not handy, brace yourself against a tree to keep the camera steady.
  2. Turn your Flash off. If you are shooting in an automatic mode, make sure you have your flash turned off. The darkness may trigger your flash to go off resulting in a light glare and an improperly exposed photo.
  3. Steer Clear of other light sources. Make sure you do not have any other buildings or street lights nearby when shooting. Additional light may cause your camera to adjust the exposure for that light source and not your fireworks, plus some additional light may cause a glare on your lens.
  4. Use Fireworks Mode if available. Many cameras offer a wide range of scene modes. Turn your camera to Fireworks mode to ensure you get the best Fireworks photos.
  5. Don’t touch that button! Reduce the chance of unnecessary camera shake by using your camera’s self timer or wireless remote (if you have one).
  6. Go Wide! Resist the temptation to zoom in on one array of bursts. The fun of fireworks is you never really know when or where the colorful blasts will appear. Use the mid-range or wide-angle setting on your zoom and let fly! You can always crop the image later on your computer.
  7. Pre-plan if you can, Location is Everything. The best fireworks shots usually have some of the ground in the frame. Use the rule of thirds — dividing the frame into one-third sections — to keep at last part of the foreground in view. Most modern cameras will show the rule of thirds sections on the LCD screen. Also make sure you are not positioned down wind of the action. All the smoke from the fireworks can fill the sky and obscure your view.
  8. Set your ISO. This option usually is not available in full automatic mode on cameras, but if you have a custom mode or Program Mode “P”, you can change the ISO, or light sensitivity of your cameras sensor. When shooting fireworks, you want to use a high ISO setting to make sure you capture all the light in the sky. If you camera has 800, or 1600 ISO, that would be a great option test with. Higher ISOs can result in discoloration and add noise/grain to your photo, so be sure to find an ISO that works best for you and your location without being too high.
  9. Set the Speed to Capture the Action. Another setting on your camera, called “Shutter priority”, is indicated by “S” or “Tv”. This adjusts the amount of time the camera sensor is exposed to light. For Fireworks, you want to use longer times to allow the light to hit your sensor and capture the action. The camera will automatically adjust the aperture for you to ensure proper exposure. Mix up your shutter speeds with a combination of fast to stop action and slow to show motion or firework trails in the sky. Some of the best photos come from experimentation! Have fun!

Most important of all, when enjoying Fireworks, have fun and enjoy the time with friends, family and loved ones. If you are shooting off your own Fireworks, be careful and have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

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