Tips for Photographing Fireworks

J’adore fireworks! (I just picked up Rosetta Stone and am practicing my French where I can.) They’re big and bright and colorful and make people happy. So, I take every opportunity available to watch a fireworks show. Over the past few years, I have started bringing my camera along. This summer, I got pretty lucky. Jacksonville, Florida, is hosting a summer nights series where they will be doing a fireworks display the first weekend of each month in June, July, and August, at the Jacksonville Landing.

#Tips for Shooting Fireworks

Bring a tripod.It will help tremendously in reducing image blur caused by camera shake. I shot these particular photos with a 1 second shutter speed and occasionally even go as far as a 10 second exposure.

Bring a camera with adjustable shutter speed. A regular point and shoot isn’t going to give you as good of results. As mentioned earlier, I shot these with a 1 second exposure. A friend of mine shot hers at just over 4 seconds.

Arrive early. You’ll want to stake out a good spot. Some things to keep in mind for this are:

- A good point of view. Yes, the fireworks are the main focus, but you still want to have something else of interest in the photo. Using the photo above as an example, I chose a spot where I was in the middle of the two bridges which lead the viewers eye to the center where the fireworks are being launched.

- Try to be out of the way. This is difficult, but can be done. You don’t want to be a jerk and take up 5 feet of space with a large tripod, and you don’t want people bumping into your camera. Best case scenario, they only cause blurry photos. Worst case, they knock over the camera and something breaks. This past time, I did set up in a walk way, but I put on of the tripod legs over the rail and onto the next guard rail. This significantly reduced the amount of space I was using.

- Do a test shot before the fireworks start. Look to see if the composition works for you and how the lighting looks. Keep in mind that you’re going to have to adjust either the aperture or shutter speed again once the fireworks start to compensate for the brightness of the fireworks.

- Keep practicing. For these, I shot at f4 with a 1 sec shutter speed. Next time, I am going to try something closer to f11 and a 3 or 4 second exposure to see how that works out.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or questions, please leave them in the comments below.

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