Fireworks Mini Tutorial:

I have been getting a lot of requests for me to explain how I took a recent set of firework photos.  I am in the process of writing a full fledged tutorial with screen shots and post processing, but did not want anyone to wait for the “meat and potatoes”.  This should get you started so you at least have some photos.

1.  Location:  This year I had a lot of trouble deciding where to take firework photos.  This requires lots of research, Google Earth and good old fashioned asking.  Unfortunately, the last is where I took the short cut and almost lost.  Firework photos with just the fireworks can be found most everywhere.  It is the photo with more foreground in it that stands out.  Getting this on purpose requires lots of research on the location.

2.  Bring a tripod:  It is impossible to hold a camera perfectly still for 2 – 4 seconds.  Make sure the tripod is rated to hold the full weight of the camera.

3.  Focus:  Since most fireworks displays are just after sunset this is not hard to achieve.  Get in place before the sun goes down, let the camera auto focus in the area where the fireworks should be and then switch the auto focus off.  As long as you are not moving around, you should be able to get some crisp well focused shots.

4.  Manual Mode:  Because of the low light, you have to shoot in manual mode to make sure you get well exposed shots.  I used the following settings for most of these photos.

Shutter Speed:  I varied my shutter speed for these between 2 and 4 seconds.  I found that 3 seconds seemed to be the best for me.  trigger the shutter as soon as the firework is launched and that will give you the trail as well as the burst.

Aperture:  I used the 18 – 105 kit lens for my Nikon D90 and opened the aperture all the way (3.5) at 18mm.

5.  Check the shots:  Most firework shows are about 30 minutes long.  After the first ten or so shots, stop for a few seconds and scroll through them to make sure you have the settings right.

Now you have the photos, what to do with them.  I will address this in the upcoming fireworks tutorial.

Today’s Photo:  Another Firework Shot

This is another firework shot from the Allatoona Yacht Club’s July 4th celebration (actually on July 3rd this year).

Fireworks 2©2011 Just Shooting Memories (all rights reserved)

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4 Responses to Another fireworks post

  1. I love the points, Location is the hardest in my opinion, I took this one of Paris fireworks and realized that it’s too far, but then too close is bad too etc etc. Finding a good location takes a while.
    http://martinsoler.com/2010/07/15/fireworks-and-the-eiffel-tower-paris-hdr/

  2. Tim Stanley says:

    Good tips. I was looking forward to shooting some fireworks this year, but with the drought in Texas, many local shows were cancelled, so I didn’t get a chance this year.

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