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7 Tips for Great Fireworks Photos

Celebration of Light - USA

Celebration of Light - USA

The 2010 Celebration of Light fireworks competition got underway last night with the entry from the USA team. This year USA, Mexico, Spain and China will be competing.

Fireworks, with lots of light, colours and motion, are a great subject for photographers. I’m amazed at the incredible details of the plumes of light that show up in the photos, even though the fireworks last only a few seconds.

Here are a few tips for taking some great photography photos:

  1. Use a tripod. You need long exposures (several seconds) and holding the camera by hand will cause the images to look shaky. If you don’t have a tripod handy, look for a spot that you can place the camera.
  2. Use a cable release – this also prevents camera shake.
  3. Exposure: 4 seconds at f/8.0 works well (ISO 100). You can play around with the exposure – usually you’ll want a long enough shutter speed to capture the trails of light, which is about 4 to 6 seconds.
  4. Use manual focus. You can prefocus on some bursts and then keep the same focus for the subsequent shots.
  5. Try focus blurring – this is a little tricky but the idea is to change the focus during the exposure to give some interesting looking shots. Check out Focus Blur group on Flickr for more details.
  6. Try setting the camera’s shutter on “bulb” and covering the lens with a black cloth (in a pinch your hand will do). When a particularly dramatic explosion happens, you can remove the cloth for a couple of seconds and then cover it and wait for the next one. After 2 or 3 bursts you can close the shutter.
  7. I prefer to shoot in RAW format and adjust the image later using Lightroom (or any other raw image editor). Try different white balances – tungsten usually looks pretty nice!
Celebration of Light - USA

USA Celebration of Light

Related links:

Fireworks photography guide

11 Tips for Sparkling Fireworks Photos

  1. August 1st, 2010 at 23:36 | #1

    Hey! thanks for the tips :) I tried a little focus blurring with the Chinese fireworks.. here: http://www.facebook.com/biavatistudio#!/album.php?aid=2579888&id=3227185

  2. August 2nd, 2010 at 04:31 | #2

    They look great! I wasn’t able to do it with my camera :(

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