Photographing fireworks… what you need to know!

With Canada Day and July 4th celebrations among us, there is so much  to look forward to.

The delicious aroma of barbecues fill the air. The exciting rides at the county fair and cotton candy and kettle corn. The colourful parades that will march down our main streets. The laughter of family, friends and neighbours that gather together to celebrate!

And there’s always the grand finale. The fireworks show!

28mm  f/9  ISO 200  SS 1.6 seconds

(above July 1, 2015)

Here are some helpful tips for capturing these brilliant, colourful bursts:

  1. Use a tripod. You will be using a longer shutter speed, so a tripod will eliminate unwanted blur from hand holding.
  2. Turn OFF your flash.
35mm  f/9  ISO 200  SS 1.4 sec

(above July 1, 2014)

3.  Shoot in Manual. There will be a certain amount of fine-tuning, and your’e going to want to have full control over ISO and Shutter Speed once you select your aperture.

4. Set your Aperture to f/9 or f/11

5. Use a low ISO (around 100 or 200) to reduce noise. You are going to use a longer shutter speed, so using a low ISO will be perfectly a-ok!

6. Set your shutter speed to 1/2 sec and go from there. This is were some fine-tuning will come into play. Each burst will give off a different amount of light, so leaving the shutter open too long will blowout the details, and a shutter speed that’s too fast will not leave enough time to capture the streaming lines of the burst. I leave mine open for about 1 or 2 seconds.

Firework 2015-Edit
28mm   f/9 ISO 200 SS 1.6 sec

(above July 1, 2015)

7. Turn OFF auto-focus and set your focus to infinite. Auto-focus will cause your camera to struggle as it tries to find a focal point, so setting it manually will give you the best results!

8. Bring extra memory cards and batteries (or make sure your battery is fully charged). The finale is usually the best part, and you will not want to miss it by being unprepared!

NOTE- Expect to take a LOT of images and be prepared that they won’t be all perfect, which is perfectly normal and ok! Don’t stress about it and make sure you are having fun!

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians and Happy Fourth of July to my amazing neighbours to the south!

Here are the 2016 images…

(above Canada Day July 1, 2016)

Two more tips that came to me as I was shooting this evening.

1) Shoot RAW (it came in handy with a few images that were underexposed tonight)

2) Pay attention to when you push that shutter. It’s really about timing, and I found that when having a shutter speed of 1.6 or 2 seconds, I wanted to push it as I anticipated the burst to explode. This is not always easy, but being patient paid off!

Published by

Dana Walton

Dana is drawn to the beauty in simplicity within the frame. One who lives by the words "less is more" she translates this feeling into her art. Creative composition and isolating subjects are just a couple of elements that play a strong role within the frame. Finding beauty is its simplest form. Dana lives with her husband, son and two kitties in a small town outside of Toronto, Ontario. When not spending time with family, or shooting, she enjoys baking (just about anything under the sun) or riding through trails on her mountain bike.

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