Photographing fireworks really is not too hard. In order to get the streaks as you see in this shot, you have to use a long shutter speed. This particular photograph was around 3 to 4 seconds long. Because the shutter speed is so long, you need to secure the camera which generally means using a tripod. I also use a cable release remote to trigger the shutter to further minimize any camera vibrations which could affect the image.
I set my camera in Manual mode (that is not as scary as most people thing it is) with the Aperture set to between f/5.7 to f/11 depending on how much I want in focus. Then I place the shutter speed in the "Bulb" setting. This allows me to hold the shutter open for as long as I want. While shooting fireworks, I try to open the shutter when I see the rocket streamers going up, and keep it open until the final bloom is finished. I will use the image on the LCD to gauge the exposure and adjust how long I keep the shutter open.
Holding the shutter open longer will capture more movement and more fireworks in a single frame. However, you can over expose the image if you keep the shutter open too long. In the end, it really just matters what you want to capture and what you want the images to look like. I don't even have may eye to the viewfinder for fireworks except for the initial framing. Once you have the camera set on your tripod, your framing won't change too much unless you really want to try different angles. Live View can be very useful in this situation as well which I did use a few times.
Photographing fireworks is one of those times when you can really play around with the camera and get some neat effects.
Thursday, July 8, 2010