Since I only get to practice my firework photography skills a few times per year, I find myself frantically trying to remember my set up at the last minute each time.
So, to make life easier in the future, here is a recording of what I did to get the firework shots this Fourth of July and a few notes on improvements that I can try next time. (disclosure)
How to Photograph Fireworks: Equipment Needed
- DSLR with bulb mode
- A nice lens
- Remote shutter release
- A good vantage point, preferably up wind to avoid excess smoke and away from external light sources to minimize reflections (oops!)
How to Photograph Fireworks: Camera Setup
The secret to successful firework photography is leaving your shutter open a reeeeaaallly long time while simultaneously minimizing camera shake. Mystery solved!
Here’s how to do it:
Place the camera in BULB MODE. Since I shoot on a Canon, bulb mode is one of the choices on my settings wheel. Bulb Mode allows you to have complete control over how long the shutter remains open, allowing the camera to capture and record movement for longer periods of time. (HINT: this is how to shoot photos of streaky car lights too!)
The problem with shooting in bulb mode–or having the shutter open for a long period of time–is the risk of camera shake. Any shake or vibration will cause the image to blur, whether it’s during hand-held shooting or by depressing the shutter release by hand while the camera is mounted on a tripod.
In order to get nice crisp photos while shooting in bulb mode, we MUST stabilize the camera. Even with the image stabilization technology available in lenses today, it’s necessary to invest in a tripod and remote shutter release. (HINT: when using a tripod mount and remote shutter release, remember to turn OFF image stabilization in your lens. The technology that prevents shake while the camera is moving can cause the image to blur when the camera is completely stable.)
How to Photograph Fireworks: Camera Settings
Firework photography calls for an ISO around 200 because although the night sky is very dark, the fireworks themselves are super bright. A lower ISO yields better results. Before the fireworks display started, I set my camera to focus on infinity with an f-stop to 12 to allow for a wider field of focus.
My biggest complaint with my images this year is that I shot them from inside an office building, 17 floors up. While the bird’s eye view does provide an interesting angle, the reflection on the glass from inside the building seriously interfered with the quality of the images. No matter how much I healed and cloned in Lightroom, I can still see a few streaks and that is disappointing.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results this year but you be the judge! Take a look and let me know! And tell me…how was your firework photography this year?
View the entire gallery here: http://anabakphotography.zenfolio.com/jaxfireworks2016
or download here: http://saltseasky.com/product/jacksonville-fireworks-july-2016/