I watched my first fireworks show in winter. It was awesome! I’ve been waiting since 4th of July to shoot fireworks again since last time I was all set to shoot and realized I left my tripod at home. Doh! This time I was prepared as I could be. The only challenge was figuring out exactly where they would be shooting them off. Luckily, they ended up being right out side our hotel room which just happened to have a full walk out balcony. I captured some fun shots and posted my favorite: Snowfest Fireworks.
Here are 3 photographing fireworks tips that I’ve picked up in my research and trials:
- Don’t forget your tripod! Now this is one lesson learned I hope others don’t have to experience `,-) A tripod is critical because capturing fireworks requires long exposures which absolutely requires a steady tripod. I know you’ve probably saw and encountered the $500+ sticker shock that I have in the past while researching tripods. All the pros recommend premium and very expensive carbon fiber tripods. The high-end carbon fiber tripods are certainly the best way to go; however, there are many less expensive carbon and aluminum options for the hobbyist photographer who don’t need the lightest, most versatile tripod ever built rather a mid range, good quality tripod will do the job just fine like a Manfrotto Pro Tripod or Induro Carbon Tripod.
- Use a shutter release! There are wired and wireless shutter releases. There is also a cool iPhone app from OnOne which lets you control a Canon or Nikon camera with your iPhone. I still use my old cheap wired shutter release which works great.
- Shoot in “Bulb” mode. Most modern DLSR cameras have a “Bulb”mode which lets you manually hold the shutter open. This is typically a setting on the mode dial or I know some Canon cameras like my older Canon 50D, select Manual mode and crank up the aperture until it goes into “Bulb” mode. If you camera has a dedicated “Bulb” mode selection like the Canon 7D, select “Bulb” and set aperture to F8 or F11. The camera will not be able to autofocus in the dark sky. The trick I use is to wait for first fireworks series and use my focus button to lock in the focus on the bright fireworks. Then flip the lens into manual focus so it stays in focus. Now wait for the next series of fireworks, press and hold the shutter button on the shutter release until the series is over. I typically play around with holding it for different lengths of time but I typically average between 2-10 seconds.
Hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you have any other creative photographing fireworks tips, please do share!
Good luck shooting!