How to Shoot Fireworks (My 4th of July Post Tradition )
Hi Gang: Each year right beforeÂ Independence DayÂ (celebrated here in the U.S. on theÂ Fourth of July), I share a quick post on how to photograph Fireworks (a traditional part of the 4th of July celebration here). Iâ€™m posting the technique that I included on page 175 of my book,Â â€œThe Digital Photography Book, Part 1.â€Â Here we go:
This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didnâ€™t 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, youâ€™ll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on aÂ tripod,Â because youâ€™re going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what youâ€™re really after.
Also, this is where using aÂ cable releaseÂ really pays off, because youâ€™ll need to see the rocketâ€™s trajectory to know when to push the shutter buttonâ€”if youâ€™re looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.
Next, use aÂ zoom lensÂ (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 Cinderellaâ€™s Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.
Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and youâ€™re 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:Â If your camera has â€œBulbâ€ mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works greatâ€“hold 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 timingâ€”because now youâ€™ve got the exposure and sharpness covered.
There you have itâ€”-hope you all get some great shots on the fourth, and remember to stay safe around fireworks of any kind, and weâ€™ll see you back here in one piece tomorrow. :)