It's that time of year again...
In a few, short days, we will get what may be, for some of us, our only attempt this year at photographing fireworks. In order to make sure your ready and prepared, I'm going to give you a few pointers for capturing the best images possible.
- Tripod - You NEED a tripod in order to capture nice, sharp images of fireworks, Your shutter will be open for several seconds at a time. Unless you are dead, there is no way you can hold still for even a few seconds. If you have no access to a tripod, you can attempt to brace yourself against a wall or something of the like, but if you try that, you're likely to go home and order a tripod.
- Cable Release - This is a nice tool to have to eliminate shake in your camera, which could cause blurry images. You could use your camera's self timer in a pinch, but I'm a much bigger fan of the cable release.
- Bulb Mode - If you are using a DSLR, or a camera with full manual controls, your camera probably has a BULB Mode setting. In this mode, your shutter stays open as long as your holding the button down. What this enables you to do, is press your cable release as soon as the fireworks launch and hold it down until the pretty explosion is over. If your camera has no BULB mode, you can use manual mode also, but you'll have to experiment with shutter speeds and have a bit of extra luck. If you are using a compact, or point and shoot that doesn't have manual controls, try using on of the scene modes to attempt slowing the shutter, usually the "Night" mode works well.
- Aperture - I always try shooting shooting at an aperture between F/8 and F/16. It varies depending upon how bright the surrounding area is. F/8 is always a good starting point.
- Focus - You'll cuss far less during your time out photographing the fireworks if you use manual focus. It may sound intimidating, but there's really nothing to it. If your lens has a focusing dial on it, you can turn it all the way to infinity and then back off just a hair. This should ensure everything in the scene is in focus. Auto-focus will make you say things you will regret if you try it.
- Experiment - Don't be afraid to experiment. Especially with compositions. Try shooting in tight and then try wide shoots with something interesting in the foreground, too.
Hopefully these tips will help you while you're out "shooting" fireworks. Oh yeah, a few more things...have fun, eat BBQ and most importantly, thank a troop, or veteran, or both!