Bergen County Camera employee and photography expert Alan Schwab recently hosted our focus session on fireworks photography and created this tip sheet!
How to Shoot Fireworks
1. Set your camera to Bulb Mode. If there is no Bulb mode on your mode dial, check in Manual Mode. Change the shutter speed to the longest possible (Often switches from 30 seconds to “Bulb”). In Bulb Mode, the shutter will stay open as long as you hold down the shutter release.
2. Use a Low ISO. (100 or 200)
3. No Long Exposure Noise Reduction, high ISO NR can stay on but is not needed.
4. Set your Aperture between f/8 and f/11
5.Set your White Balance to Auto
6. No Mirror Lock Up
7. Focus your lens manually on infinity. Test where infinity is by focusing on the furthest possible object your lens can resolve sharply.
8. No Dynamic Lighting or Auto Light Optimizer
9. Vivid color mode, leave saturation at normal, landscape (picture style) for Canon users.
10. Turn the Image Stabilizer (IS or VR) off
11. Metering – Matrix or evaluative
12. You will not need to meter anything while shooting. (f/11, Bulb mode, ISO 100)
13. Tripod, short zoom lens 18-70, 24-70, 18-105, 18-140, 24-105, cable release (No need to lock)
14. Tripod will possibly need to be re-positioned (tilt etc.) once show starts. I’ll shoot vertical more often then horizontal.
15. Vary your focal length for composition
16. Fire Shutter (Cable Release) hold rather then lock. Hold for multiple bursts. (2-up to 8 maybe more) Check monitor, exposures should average 2-4 seconds although exposures can last up to 15 seconds. Disregard the histogram.
17. Finale shots need to happen quicker then the rest of the show. These shots can become over exposed quickly due to the number of fireworks exploding. Shutter speeds during the finale can range between 1 second and – 1/30th of a second.
18. JPEG or RAW format. RAW is not necessary unless you feel the need to recover highlights. Shoot JPEG or RAW together or just JPEG. Use a fast card for recovery of write speed times. Raw will offer more color bit information.
19. Bring extra cards, batteries, mini flashlight. The show may be 30 minutes to an hour long. Be careful inserting a memory card in the dark.
20. Add an element of scenic interest to your pictures. Look for a location which has a bridge, skyline, or crowd.
As always, if you have any questions about this or any other photographic subject, feel free to stop by, give us a call, message us on facebook, or comment below.