July 4th is on Monday – are you ready? If part of your plans include watching a fireworks display and capturing it on film, you’re in luck. I scoured the web for top tips from experts on how to photograph fireworks, and there are 6 basic things they agree on. If I could sum up their advice, it would be this: Prepare beforehand.
Here’s how to photograph fireworks:
1. Use a real camera
You can certainly try to photograph fireworks with your smartphone, but the results will be less than stellar. Your smartphone’s camera is just not designed to take beautiful photos at night from a distance, so leave it at home and bring your real camera.
2. Bring your tripod and a remote release device
Unless you can hold your camera absolutely still for long periods of time, plan to bring your tripod and a remote release device with you. The reason is simple: You’ll need to use a slow shutter speed to let in as much light as possible. If your camera moves at all, its movement will affect the photos – and not in a good way.
3. Set up beforehand
You’ll want to get to the site of the fireworks early so you can set up your tripod and ensure your camera is pointing in the right direction. If you’re not sure exactly where to point your camera, ask those around you if they are familiar with the fireworks setup. Also, it’s best to be further away than closer to ensure you are capturing everything.
4. Adjust the settings on your camera
You’ll want to adjust a few setting on your camera. First, switch your shutter to bulb mode, which lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you hold it down (easiest to achieve with a remote release device). Turn off your flash, and switch to manual focus and manual exposure modes. Choose a wider aperture and low ISO setting.
5. Take a lot of photos
Remember you can delete anything that is just OK and just keep the best shots after the fireworks have ended. Shoot way more photos than you think you need. Pay attention to the timing of the fireworks – look for the smoke and sparks from rockets launching up into the air so you can anticipate when they’ll explode.
6. Watch the direction of the wind
If it’s possible, position yourself upwind from the fireworks. If you end up downwind, smoke may drift in your direction, obscuring the view and ruining your photos.
Did I miss anything? What else would you add to my list on photographing fireworks?
Image courtesy of 7 Mile Island Massage