Happy Summer! It’s time to capture some of the beauty in the sky above you, as we celebrate Independence Day.
The key to capturing fireworks is timing your exposure so you can capture multiple blasts without over exposing your image. Using a low ISO will give you longer exposures and better quality. Your shutter speed will determine how long the trailfrom the fireworks is. My preference is shutter speeds ranging from 4 to 15 seconds at f8 or f11. Make sure you are shooting on manual exposure.
Another trick is to set your camera on bulb, lock your shutter open with your cable release and hold piece of dark cardboard in front of the lens. When a blast occurs remove the cardboard, when the blast ends, hold it in front of the lens again. This will enable you to record multiple blasts on a single frame.
Colored fireworks will give you more vibrant trails, while white fireworks tend to over expose your image. To eliminate camera shake, as a result of slow shutter speeds use a tripod. I also recommend using a cable release, which allows you not to touch the camera when releasing the shutter. You can also weigh down your tripod for greater stability if it’s a windy day. Hang your camera bag from the hook on the bottom of your trip. For longer exposures, you want to block off the eyepiece to keep stray light form entering the back of the camera and affecting your image. If your camera has a mirror lock up feature, you also want to use this on longer exposures.
The photo below is from the end of the summer frieworks in Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard. I was part of the White House Press Pool covering President Obama’s summer vacation. While we were on hold as the President was at a private event, I noticed the fireworks over the harbor. I did not have a tripod with me, nor a cable release (not items you usually need in the White House Press Pool). I propped my camera on a fence post and gently touched the shutter. Rules are only guidelines, you can photograph fireworks without a tripod! ( although not ideal.) You just need to be flexible and creative with your methods.
Happy Summer Shooting!! Hope to see you at my upcoming Niagara area workshop with Doug Hansgate, August 18-20Rick Friedman & Doug Hansgate Lighting Workshop