Photographing fireworks – a quick guide

Following my recent post on firework photography, i’d like to share with you just how I took the images.

(all images © Gary Danton)

1. Tripod & Cable release

This is an absolute must, even the best VR (vibration reduction) on your lens will only give you half a second (max) of shutter time. You’ll be needing a good 4 – 5 seconds to get a decent exposure. A cable release (or remote relase) is another great tool to have, it again will reduce any camera shake from firing the shutter.

2. Location

Make sure that you pick your location carefully, I prefer somewhere nice and quiet, where no-ones going to walk through your shot or disturb your kit. Normally a muddy corner of the field will surfice :).

3. Setup you camera properly

You need to set you camera to manual, dial in bulb as the shutter speed and set aperture to something midrange for your lens, for my 18-55mm on my D40 i picked f/11 – f/13. Next, set your lens to manual focus and set focus to infinity.. the last thing you’ll need is to hear your camera searching for focus aand missing a great shot. Set your ISO as low as you can.. you’ll want as little noise in your pictures as possible.

4. Timing

Now this is the really tricky bit, you’ll want to fire your shutter (via cable/remote release) just as the firework is launched, and release as it fades away. For the majority of my shots the shutter speed was between 3 and 6 seconds, be careful because fireworks can be so bright, they’ll overexpose easily. Be prepared to take a lot of images, I had a hit rate of around 10% (I had 9 usable from 85 shots).

Well thats about it, just make sure that you are prepared and above all enjoy the show.

Thanks

Gary

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