I’ll tell you straight up that I am not a photography instructor. I am a self taught photographer. Trial and err have been my teachers. I use a few digital cameras in my craft, one with a few lenses to switch between. Shooting with film would drive me nuts, I think. Fortunately, I began this passion for photography during the digital age, so if I make a mistake, I hit delete, lol. I have mostly taken photos of landscapes and flowers and parks….a few of you may have seen some of my work. But I have never really done much in the way of night photography, let alone shooting fireworks. I have only attempted it a few times.
One of my first attempts at shooting fireworks was during the UP festival of 2007 (see photos I uploaded) when it was held at Curtis High School and Colegate Park. I was fortunate to have an experienced photographer buddy around to help me with it. At that time I had used a point and shoot camera which did have a setting for fireworks. That made it easier. I took lots of images … some turned out, and some didn’t because my timing was off. However, it was a useful lesson.
Last year, I used my digital SLR (single lens reflex) for capturing the fireworks over Steilacoom. I had a modicum of success after reading a few tutorials on line, as I wasn’t familiar with the technique. You see, I have been the kind of photographer that prefers to shoot at early sunrise or twilight, which, admittedly, limits you….okay, maybe not early sunrise, as I like to be sleeping at the crack of dawn.
Here are the things you’ll need to consider when shooting fireworks:
1) A Slow Shutter Speed.
2) Choosing the right aperture.
3) Setting the ISO
4) A Solid Platform, ie; tripod.
6) Use the highest Quality setting.
Besides settings on your camera there are a few things to include with your equipment before trying your hand at shooting fireworks:
1) Use a tripod! A most important tool to getting a steady shot.
2) Bring a small flashlight so you don’t fumble around in the dark with your camera settings…or use your smart phone. It gives off a fair amount of light when you turn it on.
3) Bring extra batteries. One of the most frustrating things is running out of battery power and having no backups on hand just when the grand finale begins!
4) Bring plenty of memory cards. Same as with batteries….you don’t want to run out. AND…the nice thing about a memory card is, unlike film, you can erase your mistakes! Make sure the extra media cards are empty and formatted.
Now, I’m not going to write a full tutorial on shooting fireworks…not when there’s a great one available online via the New York Institute of Photography, from which I have shared some of their tips. Check out the link below….you should be able to get enough information to help you take better fireworks photos. When you do, post them to UP Patch and show them off!
Happy shooting and have a safe and sane 4th!