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Home > Photography Tips, Videos & More > Photography Tips & Tutorials > Photographing the 4th of July

Photographing the 4th of July

Tips from Craig Tanner

Posted: July 1st, 2011 @ 1:10pm

Source: The Mindful Eye Photography School - eNews Tips

The fourth of July is Monday and many photographers will be photographing fireworks displays for the first time or will be wanting to improve on their past fireworks photography. Here are some tips for great fireworks photography from one of Backyard Shots pro photographers, Craig Tanner.
1) Get there early and scout and imagine framing that will include a much bigger story than just the fireworks themselves. Shoot wide and include more layers of story like the crowd or nearby landscape or architectural features that can put the fireworks into more of an interesting context. Wide zooms are a great lens choice for these kinds of scenic fireworks shots.
2) Speaking of equipment you will want to bring a tripod and remote release for long exposures and a small flashlight to help you see your camera controls. Turn your flash off.
3) When it comes to exposure fireworks displays are very bright. ISO 100 – 200, F8 or f11 and three to five seconds is a good starting point for the three components of exposure. Shooting in manual mode is a good idea. Experiment with f-stop and shorter and longer shutter speed combinations to vary the balance between exposure on the fireworks and the background of the sky and to show shorter or longer trails of light from the exploding fireworks. Pay attention to your settings and adjust them accordingly relative to the feedback you get from your LCD monitor. Look for vantage points where you can shoot the fireworks against the brightest, most colorful part of the twilight sky. At twilight there will be dramatically more light in the west than the east (two to three stops more). Having more detail and color in your background sky can make for a more layered, interesting fireworks display photograph.
4) If you are shooting wide, focus your lens to infinity using the focusing scale on the lens...or in other words, manually focus to infinity. On most zoom lenses infinity focus is denoted by a two lines that form a right angle that are next to the figure eight ampersand on the focusing scale. Align the vertical part of that line on the moving barrel of the lens with the focus mark on the fixed barrel side of the lens. Use this technique to focus and turn your auto focus off!
5) Would you like to get multiple bursts on one frame? Set the ISO and aperture as noted above. Go to bulb mode. Lock the shutter down with your remote locking cable to open the shutter when the fireworks start. After each burst cover the lens with a black card or black fabric. Just hold it on front of the lens to block the light. Don’t touch the lens or camera. Move the black card out of the way when another bursts fires. Keep doing this for as long as you want. Experiment, track your results and have fun.
We hope you enjoyed these tips from Craig Tanner and that it will inspire you to pick up your camera and get out there and shoot!


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