8 Rules for Shooting Fireworks

fireworks-4


Over the years I have put together a number of posts featuring fireworks imagery. But, I have never given a tutorial or how-to on best practices for shooting fireworks.  So,in light of the upcoming holiday, figured now would be as good a time as any to share some pointers on how to photograph fireworks.

The Rules for Shooting Fireworks

  1. The first step is to get there early - well before dusk.  If you want a good spot, you'll need to be there in advance of the crowds and masses. This way you'll get a nice field of view without people blocking your sight lines.
  2. Set up on a tripod!  This is almost an essential thing to do.  Even if you hate tripods and want to be mobile. The fact of the matter is that most really good shots of fireworks will require a longer exposure than anyone can handhold. Your lens needs to be open for a few seconds (in general my fireworks shots tend to be in the 3-5 second range) and no one can hand hold that long!
  3. Set your point of focus for your lens to infinity.  In general, fireworks are up far enough in the sky that setting it anywhere else will likely cause blurry fireworks.  This is true regardless of whether you want to include surrounding areas or not.
  4. Set your aperture to at least f8.0 if not higher so you can get enough depth of field. (I generally use f16)
  5. Turn off image stabilization (or vibration reduction) if your lens is so equipped.  IS (VR) attempts to counter hand shake. If your camera is on a tripod and there is no shake, the lens can tend to create shake where none exists.  Some lenses are smart enough, but as a general rule, it's a good idea. An added side benefit for shooting fireworks is that this will also extend your batter life on your camera.
  6. Make sure any filters you use during day time are off.  I tend to have a UV filter on my wide angle lenses at all times.  I often use a circular polarizer for evening and morning sunrise/sunset imagery too.  Take these off for shooting fireworks as there's no UV light at night (or polarized light to filter).
  7. I try to get most of my shots toward the beginning of a fireworks show.  Toward the end, the smoke from prior displays is hanging in the air. This makes the "pristine shots" more difficult to capture that don't require a lot of clean-up.
  8. Finally, to make your shots different, make sure you include surrounding areas in your composition.  While a nice crisp fireworks plumage is always nice, these have been done literally millions of times and become boring quickly.  Consider adding the reflection of the fireworks from the water below (fireworks are often lit over water for safety reasons).

Sample shots from shooting fireworks:

Fireworks photography shooting sample 1
Fireworks photography shooting sample 1
Fireworks photography shooting sample 2
Fireworks photography shooting sample 2
Fireworks photography shooting sample 3
Fireworks photography shooting sample 3
Fireworks photography shooting sample 4
Fireworks photography shooting sample 4
Fireworks photography shooting sample 5
Fireworks photography shooting sample 5
Fireworks photography shooting sample 6
Fireworks photography shooting sample 6

Enjoy the holiday and happy shooting!

Summer Photo Project Ideas

Summer Fireworks

A summer photo project is a great way to keep the creative juices flowing and to keep your skills active.  Just like anything else, if you don't practice your photography regularly, things can get rusty, so avoid the atrophy with these fun summer projects:

Summer Photo Project Idea 1 - Food!

Some foods are very stereotypical of summers, including hot dogs, bratwurst, watermelons, and salads (chicken salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, etc.)  Heck, even beer at a baseball game can make for some photo ops!  Try to come up with excuses to make the foods and then let your creativity whirl when capturing the images!  The best part is when you're done shooting, your appetite is easily whetted and gratified!

Summer Food!
Beer cups at a baseball game make for a fun summer photo project

Summer Photo Project Idea 2 - Events!

Lots of fun themes surround summer - school letting out, graduation, independence, traveling, sunny beaches, fireworks, etc.  Pick a theme and look for ways to capture images of your own.  Obviously some will be more time sensitive (are you ready for July 4th fireworks?), so plan your timeline accordingly.

Summer Fireworks
Fireworks are a quintessentially fun summer photo project!

Summer Photo Project Idea 3 - Sunrises and Sunsets!

Yes, they are the intrepid photos we see all the time from all the world over, but every one is different, and every photo can tell a unique story, so stay out late one night or get up early one morning and find out where these classic shots can best be had in your area.  The nice thing about doing this during summer is that you don't have to get up as early, and for the latter, you can usually wait until after dinner for your photo excursions - long days of summer give us extended times to approach the classic shots!

Summer Sunrise
Sunrise at Folly Beach SC - sunrises and sunsets make for excellent and inspirational summer photo projects!

Conclusion

In conclusion, having a project or theme to drive your creative vision is just one trick in the photographic tool bag. I've just given you three ideas for summer photo projects. But, of course, that's not a corner on the market of creative fun summer photo project ideas. That said, you likely know where I'm going from here! What ideas do you have for summer photo projects?  Share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments!

Shooting Time Lapse Photography with an Intervalometer

As always, I must apologize for the lengthy delays between posts here - been busy on many fronts. I've had some fun updates lately that are worth sharing though as my brother-in-law just purchased an 80D and his questions to me have given me new interest in putting out some content to share here on the blog. Toward that end, I have put my trusty rusty 40D up for sale (so if anyone is interested, let me know - I'll give you a pretty sweet deal! 🙂 ).

Additionally, with questions coming in to my mailbox regularly (and also through Quora), the subject of time lapse photography (and of course the related question about intervalometers) has resurfaced for me to address.  For regular visitors, you may recall a while back I posted an article about them here: An Interva what?

In answering a question on Quora, I also decided to record a video to share with those that are interested as well. Here's the full monty:

I've also covered shooting time lapse content before on your mobile device (for me I used an iPhone). You can watch that time lapse video here:

Along those lines, there's more content to come! 🙂 I've been playing around with videos on the 70D, time lapse, and much more, so be sure to stay tuned as I hope to be updating on a much more frequent basis moving forward! Happy shooting!