4th of July Fireworks: Do’s and Don’ts to Capture the Most Explosive Photos

So last night I was sitting in my house when all of a sudden I heard a loud boom, and my dogs started going crazy! When I looked out my backdoor I was pleasantly surprised to see that our nearby town in the not-so-far distance had set off beautiful fireworks! As many of you well know, I LOVE photography, it's one of my passions, but fireworks can be very hard to photograph. I made a huge mistake when I grabbed my trusty iPhone and ran out the door to take pictures. Seriously? I love my iPhone but there are just some things an iPhone can't photograph and that's a stunning red, white and blue display of fireworks shooting up in the air 6 miles away! By the time I ran back in my house (I live on four acres), the display was gone and my mission of sharing photos of fireworks with all of you had been diminished. With that being said, I know many of you will be watching firework displays on the fourth, and some of you (like myself) will be treated to them starting this weekend and into next; the great people of Pholium kindly shared some great photography tips for photographing fireworks with us this week, that we'd love to pass along!

 

 

 

Fireworks display in Florence, Italy. Image by Robert Sinclair, co-founder of Pholium  Florence, Italy

Fireworks display in Florence, Italy. Image by Robert Sinclair, co-founder of Pholium

 

31mm

ISO 100

Shutter @ 8 sec

f6.7

 

  • DO have the right equipment. A camera with manual controls and a tripod are crucial, with a remote shutter release being a close second. Setting the camera on manual allows you to control the focus of your pictures, and a tripod provides a stable place to rest the camera while taking shots – which also allows you to join the photo-taking fun!
  • DON’T use the flash. A flash is not necessary for capturing fireworks displays since it’s already brighter than the light we normally photograph. Turn off your flash setting and let the natural light take control.
  • DO use a lens that is wide enough to capture a more visible area than you think you need. You don’t want to miss the candid shots of your kids running around while the fireworks are in motion.
  • DON’T be afraid to reposition. When the fireworks start going off, look at your preview screen and reposition your camera to frame the images the way you want. Feel free to move the tripod around and make sure the landscape is captured as you intend.
  • DO lower your film speed. Lowering your film speed (or ISO in tech terms) reduces the opportunity for shadows, color specs and grain and makes for a clearer image. Because the fireworks you are capturing will be very bright, 100 ISO is an ideal place to start.
  • DON’T forget to adjust the f-stop. The f-stop measures lens aperture and will show you if the fireworks photos are over or under exposed. If colored fireworks are white and not well defined, the shot is overexposed and the f-stop number needs to be increased. If the fireworks aren’t bright enough, the aperture needs to be opened by reducing the f-stop number.
  • DO adjust your shutter speed. Because the length of each fireworks blast varies, setting your shutter speed to B instead of a pre-determined setting will allow you to control how long your camera’s shutter is open to capture blasts. The B setting allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you press it to capture the perfect shot.

 

 

Firework display in Florence, Italy. Image by Robert Sinclair, co-founder of Pholium

Fireworks display in Florence, Italy. Image by Robert Sinclair, co-founder of Pholium

 

31mm

ISO 100

Shutter @ 2 sec

f2.8

 

And, once all the images are captured, you can use Pholium to create a digital photo book that tells a story that can be shared with family and friends.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post.

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