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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to photograph fireworks

Im sure many people will be trying to photograph some fireworks tonight! So I thought I would give some advice for those that want better results!

The basics:
- If you have a tripod, use it
- Don't bother using a flash
- You do not need to use a high iso/asa.

This is easier with a camera that has full manual options like a slr or dslr.

If you have a camera with manual settings, put the camera on a tripod, set the camera to iso 100, F8 and as long of a shutter speed as you want - for example 2 seconds. The longer of a shutter speed you use the more fireworks you may get in the exposure. If you have a bulb mode that keeps the shutter open as long as you hold the shutter release button, then you can get the exact lengths that you want. You can either pre-focus to infinity or use the first set of fireworks to focus and the second set to take pictures of. Do note that slr lenses tend to focus beyond infinity. If you find the picture is a bit to dark at F8, Try F5.6. Or if its a bit to bright, try F11.

If you have a point and shoot with limited options, try a mode that gives you longer shutter speeds, perhaps night mode.

The fun part will be to aim the camera at the part of the sky that you think the fireworks will be in. The more you zoom in the greater the odds the fireworks will be cut off or missed all together. The more you zoom out the more empty space you will have in the picture but you can crop to get the picture you want. But the more you crop, the more quality you loose compared to a non cropped version. I try to find a middle ground here, and do some close ups and some wide angle shots.

If your camera let you use a shutter release cable then that will help prevent camera shake from pushing and holding the shutter release.

If you hand hold the camera, you will get motion blur from the longer exposure which may give an interesting result, but it wont be the type of image you see in magazines.

And take many pictures, odds are most will be ok and a few will be outstanding. And most importantly, have fun. :)

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