Photo Fun With Fireworks


Yes, The 4th of July is coming! And for us here in the U.S. That is a big deal. Fireworks are a staple of the holiday, and for years you have watched them at a backyard BBQ, over parks, and beaches. Now it's time to take those explosion that are gone in the blink of an eye and make them into cherished memories and awesome images!  

Long Exposure! If you have been a part of the Gillette Outdoors Family for long you have heard the term. I enjoy taking long exposure shots for many reasons, and fireworks are some of them.

You will need a sturdy tripod! Your camera will pick up any movement at all and turn you photo into a blurry mess!  

Now let's talk about the camera setup. This image is what's known as a long exposure, which means that the shutter of your camera remains open for an extended period of time during the shot. To do this it is best that you put your camera in "M" manual mode. In manual mode you have control over all settings so you must know how to adjust them on your specific camera. So dust of your cameras owners manual or search for your model online for the correct setting adjustments. With this low light you need to set your camera up to be able to bring in any light it can so first let's adjust your aperture setting. Now from lens to lens this setting will change because of the inner diameter of the lens but just set your aperture "F#" to the lowest possible number. The lens I was using let me go down to F3.5. This is going to open up the inside shade of the lens and allow the most light to get into you sensor. 

Next is ISO, I have found that it is better to use a low ISO setting when shooting shots like this because you tend to get a lot of noise when your cameras sensor overly sensitive. So believe it or not I keep with an ISO of 100 even in this dark situation. I would rather give the camera more time than worry about crappie shots. Which leaves us with one last setting which is shutter speed. With this you have a few options first you can use a pre timed shutter speed that your camera has built in. Most cameras will have at most a 30 sec exposure time, so if you can get your shot done in that amount of time then that will work. Or you can set your shutter speed to "bulb" witch allows you to open the shutter and leave it open until you want to close it. 

With my camera the bulb mode setting can be controlled in two ways. First you have the shutter release button, press and hold this button and the shutter will remain open until you let your finger off the button. This will work but it is hard even with the best tripods not to move the camera while holding the button. Option two is to use a remote shutter release button, you can pick one up for your camera online for relatively cheep. With the remote you push the button once and the shutter opens and you push the button again to close it. Much easier and completely hands off the camera and tripod makes for no movement in the shot. I always recommend the remote method for anyone trying to do this type of shot and if you are attempting it alone there is no other way.

Lastly, in the dark your camera will not be able to autofocus, so you will need to set your camera to manual focus mode. To focus your shot put bright light on your main subjects and set your focus and leave it. My lens has an infinity setting on the lens that puts everything in focus so check your lens, you may have the same.  

Camera setting recap

Aperture  F3.5

ISO 100

Shutter speed "bulb" 45-50 seconds  

Manual Focus  


Here are some videos that will help you better understand some of these settings on your camera. Shutter speedISO, and Aperture.

I would start with a 10 or 15 second Shutter speed, and adjust from there.  

So the whole idea is to light the fuse, trigger the camera. And sit back and watch the show once the firework has stopped check you camera to see what you got! 

Get creative with sparkles and write your name in the air. Your camera will pick up everything in one image. 

Try it!