Alan’s Guide to Shooting Fireworks

How to Shoot Fireworks

  1. Use the bulb setting available in manual (M), see tip 17 for the finale’!
  2. Use a low ISO 100-200
  3. No long exposure noise reduction, high ISO NR can stay on, but it’s not needed
  4. F8-F11
  5. Use auto white balance
  6. No mirror lock up
  7. Use infinity focus, switch to manual focus, tape the lens focus ring @ infinity. Some lenses are not marked. Test focus in manual at farthest subject your lens can resolve sharply.
  8. O D lighting or auto lighting optimizer, these control contrast and brightness.
  9. Vivid color mode, leave saturation at normal, landscape (picture style) for Canon uses.
  10. IS-VR off, since you will be on a tripod.
  11. Metering: use matrix or evaluative
  12. Note: you will not have to meter anything for shooting (F11, ISO 100, bulb = done)
  13. Tripod, short zoom lens 18-70mm, 24-70mm, 18-105mm and a cable release (no need to lock)
  14. Tripod will possibly need to be repositioned (tilted etc) once the show starts. I’ll shoot vertical more often than horizontal.
  15. Vary zoom length for composition
  16. Fire the shutter (with a cable release) hold rather than lock. Hold for multiple bursts 2-8 or maybe more. Check the monitor, exposures should average 2-4 or 4-7 seconds, and can even be as long as 8-15 seconds. Disregard the histogram.
  17. Finale’ shots need to happen quickly in manual mode, burst or continuous 1 second, ½ second, ¼ second, 1/8 second, 1/10 second, 1/25 second, 1/30 second. These shorts can be blown out if taken for longer time periods (such as with bulb). Still maintain the F number 8-11.
  18. JPEGS or Raw? Raw is not necessary unless you feel a need to recover highlights. Shoot JPEG or raw together, or JPEG alone. Use a fast card for recovery of write speed times. Raw will offer a bit more color information too.
  19. Bring extra cards, batteries, and a mini flashlight. The show may be 30 minutes to an hour long. Be careful about inserting memory cards in the dark.
  20. Add an element of scenic interest in your picture. Bridges, skylines, crowds, etc

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