Happy Fourth of July! May your celebrations be happy and safe. If you're heading out to watch fireworks tonight, here are some tips on how to capture the spectacular displays.
It's been years since I watched live fireworks for the Fourth of July. But I can't get enough of photographs of the amazing city displays.
When I used to photograph bands over the holiday I was routinely asked how to photograph them. Here are three things you can do that will have the most impact on your photos.
Skip the flash.
Your camera's flash is meant for lighting objects a few feet from it. If you try to photograph fireworks using a flash, you'll illuminate the people watching the fireworks and annoy those around you.
Reduce camera shake.
Your eyes pick up more light than most cameras. This means you're going to need to keep the camera lens open to capture more light, probably longer than you can reasonably hold completely still. You'll want a tripod (or at least the ability to brace yourself). You'll also to use either a remote release or a timer. As you press and release your camera button, even if you do so very carefully, you're moving the camera ever so slightly. Pick a shutter speed (1/2 second is a good starting point), test, and lower as needed until you have an image that works.
Remember that depending on where you're watching fireworks, you may or may not be able to eliminate camera shake entirely; some venues prohibit tripods. Check before you head out.
Your camera doesn't know best when it comes to fireworks. It can't read your mind that you're trying to photograph a very bright object thousands of feet away. Go with a low ISO like 100. You don't want a high ISO as you'll just be adding grain to your image. Set your aperture so that it's not completely open--that gives you a really shallow depth of field and your fireworks won't be in focus.
Round Up of Tips for Photographing Fireworks
Want more tips?
- Ten Tips on How to Photograph Fireworks from Digital Photography School
- Gallery of Photographed Fireworks and tips from National Geographic
- Tips for Photographing Fireworks with DSLRs and Compact Cameras from Ken Rockwell
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.