Not every photo you take at the fireworks display will be perfect. The burst will be too small, the burst will be a bit to the left, the other too far to the right, etc.
Let Layers in Photoshop come to the rescue.
This only works, by the way, if you don’t move your tripod during the display.
Highlight each image that you want to blend in Photoshop Bridge. Clicked on Tools >Photoshop> Load Files Into Photoshop Layers. Photoshop opens the images in a layer stack on the right side. (Lightroom users will highlight all the images, click Edit>Photo>Load Files Into Photoshop Layers.)
Highlight each image, then clicked on Lighten in the blend mode. Then click Layer>Flatten. Click on Filter>Camera Raw Filter to open the image in Adobe Camera Raw so you can tweek it a bit.
Don’t stress it if things aren’t going well at the fireworks display.
Put the camera on the tripod. Frame the scene in front of you. Set the camera’s mode to Aperture Priority. Dial the f/stop to 5.6. Raise the ISO to around 400.
Take a couple of shots. Look at them on the back of the camera. Too bright, then drop the ISO to 200 or 100. Not bright enough, raise the ISO to 800 — though this is usually not the case. Take a couple of shots and repeat.
Do you have your spot staked out? Do you know where you’re going to be 90-minutes or two-hours before the fireworks start?
Wonderful photos of fireworks come when you’ve thought about your vantage point. Then you’re there and ready to go when the display starts.
Equipment: Tripod, camera, and optional cable release. Camera set on Aperture Priority with the aperture set at 4.5 or 5.6. That gives you a lot of light. Then ISO at about 400. No need for too high of an ISO because then the color and grain are sacrificed.
Once the fireworks begin, check your photos periodically on the back of the camera. Long shutter speed means lots of streaks, or draping, in the fireworks burst. Shot shutter speed means dots of light in the sky versus streaks.
Want more shutter speed? Move the aperture to f/8. (Watch the shutter speed increase as the sky fills with a fireworks burst. The shutter speed goes down when there are no bursts in the sky.)
Avoid clicking the shutter when there are no fireworks in the sky. Hit the shutter when the burst begins. This gives your photos a better exposure since the light meter is set for light in the sky versus a dark sky.
Take most of your photos early in the display. Smoke fills the sky toward the end of the display and doesn’t look as good.
The 4th of July is coming up in the United States. That means fireworks displays all over the country.
Now is the time to figure out where you’re going to stand so you can get magnificent photos of your local display.
I suggest you start doing your research now. Figure out the launching location. This is usually published in the local newspaper or municipal website. Then figure out where you’re going to stand so there’s an interesting foreground.
If possible, scout the area ahead of time. I know that sounds crazy and obsessive but there are a lot of photographers out there. I guarantee five other photographers have found the same location.
(I found my spot and scouted the area during my morning walk. I have my prime location and two other contingency locations.)
Consider getting into location early. That might mean two-hours ahead of time in super crowded locations. Maybe only thirty minutes for a small town display. Go ahead and break it to your family that you need to be on location ahead of time. Get everyone prepared.
Some say that HDR, or high-dynamic range, is a great way to remove tourists from our photos taken in busy vacation locations. Well, maybe sometimes.
First some explanations. HDR is high-dynamic range photography. Our eye sees 22-stops of light but the camera can capture about 5-stops. HDR images allow us to photograph details in the shadows while still maintaining details in the highlights.
To create a HDR photo, we take 2 or more photos from the same location and vary the exposure. The examples below have been created from seven photos. The exposures range from balanced light meter to -3-stops all the way to +3-stops.
HDR software has an option to deghost or remove people. Deghosting removes people from the final photo if those people didn’t appear in the same spot in all the photos. There’s usually a scale so we can vary the intensity of deghosting. I’ve set the deghosting to maximum on each image.
You see that people are still in my photo of the busy street in San Gimignano, Italy. The only person who stood still through all seven photos was the man in the gray windbreaker on the left. Everyone else moved. The lady in the orange coat walked straight at the camera through all seven photos. The man with the umbrella walked across the scene from right to left.
In conclusion, the crowded street is still crowded with people. The different software, though, handled processing in a variety of ways.
Here are the seven photos used to build these HDR photos.