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Red, White and Boom

Photographing fireworks is pretty easy… and fun. They are quite bright… but you can’t use a fast shutter speed because you need to...

Photographing fireworks is pretty easy… and fun. They are quite bright… but you can’t use a fast shutter speed because you need to get the trail they leave behind. And… if you want a cityscape you need to let the light of the city in.

Let’s start with ISO. I use 100. Some cameras will only go to 200. Yes, it’s dark outside but you’ll use reeeeally slow shutter speeds which let in a lot of light.

The shutter speed that I think works best is 10-15 seconds. It is a bit of a balancing act between enough time for colorful trails and too much time… which ends up with numerous explosions and lots of smoke.

If you open the aperture up too much the fireworks will be too bright. Somewhere around f/11-f/16 seems good.

I use a cable release and a tripod. Just don’t even try it hand held. As soon as you see one launch, hit the button.¬†Also, I focus on lights in the distance and flip the lens to manual focus after that. All that is so the camera won’t try to focus on the night sky (unsuccessfully). You may even be able to use auto focus to get the fireworks sharp when some go off… then put the lens back on manual focus so the lens doesn’t have to focus again.

Fireworks for July 4th Greenville SC

July 4th, 2011