How to Photograph Fireworks

Photograph by:  peaceful-jp-scene

Photograph by: peaceful-jp-scene

Shooting fireworks is easy if you follow some basic steps.

Step 1. Know your camera. Every year, I see people fumbling with their cameras in the dark, trying to make adjustments and navigate their camera settings . Trying to change settings on your camera in the dark can lead to frustration and lots of missed opportunities. Be sure and spend some quality time with your cameras manual before the big event, be sure and get comfortable setting your cameras Mode, ISO, Shutter, and Aperture settings. Also, it's a good idea to bring along a mini flashlight to help lumen-ate things when needed.


Step 2. Bring a tripod. This is essential. shooting in the dark requires long exposures, sometimes several seconds. Trying to hand-hold your camera for that length of time is next to impossible. Also, if you want the best control over the quality of your shots, I recommend a shutter release cable. A cable release ensures stability, and makes taking pictures a much more comfortable process, since you can watch the fireworks in the sky, and time your shots much more accurately.

Photograph By:  sj liew

Photograph By: sj liew

Step 3. Pick a good vantage point to shoot from. Location, location, location. Arrive early and scout a good location with a unobstructed view. Be sure and stay clear of ambient light sources (such as light poles) that will cause your shots to overexpose.

Step 4. Turn Autofocus off. You heard me right, turn it off. Most cameras have a terrible time with low-light shooting. Low-light shooting can cause cameras autofocus system to constantly hunt in the dark. Autofocus is simply not needed for fireworks. Simply set your lens to infinity. 

Step 5. Camera Settings. The settings I give you here are starting points. Once on location, you will no doubt have to make slight adjustments, but for the most part they are a good place to start.

  • Set your camera mode to Manual Mode.

  • Set you ISO to 100.

  • Set your shutter speed to BULB.

  • Set your Aperture to f/11

P hotograph By:  Tim Shields

Photograph By: Tim Shields

Step 6. Exposure Timing.A good rule of thumb is to open the shutter as soon as you hear or see the rocket shooting into the sky and to leave it open until the burst is dissipating. This will usually take several seconds. Anywhere between 1 and 4 seconds, usually give excellent results.

Most of all.. Get out and have some fun! Happy Shooting!

Which is the best lens for photowalking?

Best Lens For Photowalking Is?

Best Lens For Photowalking Is?

I get asked this question all the time. Which lens to buy for photowalking? Now, I don't normally give away trade secrets, but here it is.. It's model number 56-67850..Wait.. I'm of course kidding.  :-) The correct answer of course, is it depends on the type of photowalk your embarking on. If your photowalk is taking you through lots of beautiful vistas and landscapes, a nice wide angle lens would be ideal. On the other hand,  If your photowalk is taking place in more of a urban setting,  then, maybe a longer tele-zoom would suit you better. Or if street photography is your thing, then maybe a nice 35mm prime would be just what the doctor ordered.

For me, I've gotten in the habit of carrying  2 main lens with me on all photowalks. I carry a 16-35mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. I find that these two lens are usually more than ample to cover most shooting situations. For that missing gap in-between 35 and 70, I zoom with my feet!

Even if you don't own a DSLR, most of today's point and shoot cameras are outfitted with great general purpose lens. My trusty 8 year old Canon G9 is outfitted with a 35-210mm lens, which is perfect for photowalking.  Remember, photowalking is about the experience, not how expensive you gear is.

So get out and photowalk this weekend!

If you have a question on photowalking or photography in general, or would just like to suggest a topic for us to cover, be sure and drop us a line in the comments below.