How to photograph fireworks..

Yep… I took that one…

and this one too…

To take these, you’ll need some decent camera equipment… I used a Cannon DSLR (sx model).  The important features of the camera are that you’ll need to be able to either do two second exposures or control the exposure time manually with an remote.  You’ll also need a tripod.

In terms of the lens — the top one was taken with a Tamron 18-270 zoom lens — I’d guess the photo above was at 270, probably with a 2-3 second exposure.  The bottom one was taken with a Tokina fisheye lens — 10-17, set on 10 to provide maximum curve.

In terms of the camera settings, bulb or 2 second shutter speed (bulb lets  you control the open and close), F16 and ISO 400 —

Then you go way, way early to find a good spot.  For the top one, we were about level with the place they were shooting them off — (Bloomington) — for the top one, we were on that funky hill / park near the new Gutherie — with a great view of the Stone Arch Bridge.

Before it gets dark, set up the tripod, check your settings, take a couple of practice photos and wait — In our case, last night we ended up joining into a Native American family’s birthday party for a 3 year old.  They were a hoot — they had music, food, cupcakes and bags of party favors — all of which they shared with us as we hung out near them.

When the action starts — the first thing you should do is to make sure the fireworks are in your viewfinder — because the direction you aimed the camera before dark is just a guess 🙂 — then snap away.  Make sure to check your photos every once in a while to insure that your camera hasn’t moved — (or the fireworks haven’t shifted) — and that you’re getting good colors with your exposure time.

I’d generally push the trigger as they sent one up – then keep the shutter open until a second one went up, maybe a third if they’re spread out in the sky… then close it again.

Remember that your DSLR will take about as much time to process the photo as it takes to actually take the photo — so you can’t continuously snap.  It takes a bit of luck, some skill and some good advice — but, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to spend the evening…

and — don’t forget the snacks, pop and bug spray — or you’ll end up hungry, thirsty and bug bitten :).


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