How to Shoot Fireworks
There are about a million posts out there that explain how to photograph fireworks, so I am not sure why I feel compelled to add my own post to the mix. I think that personally, this year I am going to put the camera away and just enjoy the time with my family. One of the pitfalls of being a photographer is thinking you have to photograph everything and do it perfectly all the time. Let's be honest, the kids all roll their eyes when the camera comes out. I have captured some great memories, but it can also be a hindrance to the time spent with my family. Now I try to pick and choose when to use it and when not to. I got some great fireworks shots last year, so this year I am just going to focus on enjoying the 4th of July with the ones that I love. That being said, if you want to give fireworks photography a whirl I have posted some basic instructions below. It is actually simpler than people think it is and the results can be quite amazing.
1-Use a tripod.
2-Use a cable release or wireless remote to trigger the shutter if you have one.
3-Set the camera to a low ISO, such as 200.
4-Set your aperture. I have seen posts on this that say anything from f/5.6-f/22. I usually start around f/8 as I consider it something of a neutral, who really cares kind of aperture. You will most likely have to shoot a few shots and then adjust accordingly.
5-Shutter speed. Here is where I see a lot of variance as well. Some say to use the bulb setting, others say to adjust the shutter speed according to the look you want the fireworks to have. I think 1-2 seconds is a good place to start and then you can work from there. If you want multiple bursts, the bulb setting may be a good choice.
6-Set your focus and then turn the autofocus off or turn the autofocus off and manually focus
to infinity. Either way, turn the autofocus off. ;)
7-Shoot at the start of the show to avoid the haze from the smoke that accumulates.
8-Make sure you have enough room in the frame to anticipate the height of the bursts.
9-Zoom in and try some shots that way.
10-Don't be afraid to experiment.
11-Practice, practice, practice.
12-My personal favorite, focus on the people around you and try to capture their reactions.
One thing I didn't mention is the Long Exposure Noise Reduction. Opinions about this feature vary widely. Some say to turn it on in order to shoot the highest quality file you can. Others recommend turning it off because it adds an extra complication to the process. I tend to lean toward the latter argument, but it is really a matter of preference.