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.