Quick Tips: Shooting Fireworks

RitzPix photo tips to help you capture fireworks

Use the slow shutter speed. This will ensure you see bright “trails” in your fireworks pictures as the flaming particles spread out and begin to fall toward the ground, burning light into the image.

Get a tripod. Leaving the shutter open means that you’ll need to stabilize your camera in order to avoid any motion blur. And taking crisp, long-exposure night shots while trying to hold a heavy SLR steady with your hands is next to impossible. Find a tripod, a monopod or, at the very least, a flat, stable surface to hold your camera perfectly still.

Get a shutter release cable or wireless remote. These cables will let you depress the shutter mechanism without having to touch the camera at all, thus reducing any possible blur.

Set the ISO to its lowest setting. This will reduce graininess and noise that can be introduced by higher ISO settings.

Dial in a low f/stop. Somewhere between f/8 and f/16 is ideal.

Set Focus to infinity. Also, be sure to turn off any auto-focus settings if your camera has them. If possible, focus on the ‘hyperfocal’ distance- this is the point at which infinity is at the edge of your depth of field, so you get as much as possible of the foreground in focus.

Tip: Try photographing multiple bursts in a single image. Leave the shutter open for 30 to 40 seconds at a time to capture multiple explosions. Just be sure to cover the lens between explosions to minimize the amount of ambient that shows up. Cover the lens with your hand, a black t-shirt or anything dark and non-reflective. Don’t touch or bump the camera while you’re covering it.

Tip: For a different approach, shoot hand-held without a tripod using a much faster shutter speed and a higher ISO. You’ll also want to re-adjust your f/stop, otherwise your images will be too dark. You won’t get as many light trails from the fireworks, but you’ll pick up a higher level of detail in the actual explosion, so your shots will contain a different type of drama.

Tip: Another approach is using a long exposure time to make some triple shots of the fireworks, just keep the camera pointed in the right direction while it is taking the photograph.

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