How to Shoot Fireworks
With Independence Day being celebrated here in the U.S. on the Fourth of July, I usually do a quick post on how to photograph Fireworks (which is a traditional part of the 4th of July celebration here). Im posting the technique that I included on page 175 of my book, “The Digital Photography Book.” Here we go:
This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didnt get a single crisp fireworks shot on the Fourth of July, made me including this tip just for him, and the thousands of other digital shooters that share his pain).
For starters, youll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on a tripod, because youre going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what youre really after.
Also, this is where using a cable release really pays off, because youll need to see the rockets trajectory to know when to push the shutter buttonif youre looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.
Next, use a zoom lens (ideally a 200mm or more) so you can get in tight and capture just the fireworks themselves. If you want fireworks and the background (like fireworks over Cinderellas Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.
Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and youre good to go:
- Set the Shutter Speed to 4 seconds
- Set the Aperture to f/11. Fire a test shot and look at the LCD monitor on the back of your camera to see if you like the results. If it overexposes, lower the shutter speed to 3 seconds, then take another shot and check the results again.
TIP: If your camera has Bulb mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works greathold the shutter button down when the rocket bursts, then release when the light trails start to fade. (By the way; most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have bulb mode). The rest is timingbecause now youve got the exposure and sharpness covered.
There you have it-hope you all get some great shots on the fourth!