Fireworks Photography Tips – July 2011

Where to photograph fireworks
Bergen Record guide to Independence Day Celebrations

Star Ledger guide to Independence Day Celebrations

Here are some basic starting points

If you have any questions, stop by the store, email or call. We’re here to help. Please let us know if you get some great shots we’d love to see!
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. Have a great 4th of July Holiday weekend from all of us at BCC.

Find a fireworks display on’s July 4th events page

Electronic release (available for most cameras at BCC) or 2 second self timer to eliminate the motion caused by pressing the shutter button.
Manually set your camera ISO to 100 (You do not want Auto ISO)
Lens Choice – Wide Angle Zoom to frame what you’d like to capture
Auto White Balance or Daylight
Set your lens to manual focus then focus to infinity (take a test image and make sure things are sharp)
Set your camera to Manual exposure – Try 5 seconds at f/ 16
Carefully release the shutter if not using a release to capture from one to several bursts
Evaluate your exposure – Shorter exposures (or smaller apertures ) will darken the image and capture shorter trails, Longer exposures (or larger apertures ) will lighten the image and capture longer trails.
Evaluate sharpness by zooming in on your image – adjust as needed

If you are using a point a shoot, check your camera’s manual for fireworks mode.

Improving Fireworks photos
Shoot with a tripod – it will give a more natural cascade of light

Shooting the Finale!
The finale is many times brighter than rest of the show. Be ready to choose a shorter exposure or smaller aperture to prevent overexposure. The exposure you need is dependent on the number of simultaneous bursts. In some really incredible finales I’ve found myself shooting at 1/4 or 1/8th of a second. Experiment for best results.

Why use a tripod?

Hand-held image above shows motion from camera shake in the burst of light.

The image below is steadied by a tripod, 5 seconds, f16 at 100 ISO

Other Techniques
Set your camera to B and lock open your shutter – keep the lens covered with a dark hat and remove the hat to capture a burst then recover and repeat to capture several bursts. Just be careful not to bump your camera.
You can even zoom the lens during exposure for some interesting effects

Experiment and best of all have fun

Gallery images below shot mainly at 5 seconds, f16 at 100 ISO

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