How to Get that Perfect Shot of Fireworks

Published 07/01 2014 11:59AM

Updated 07/01 2014 12:02PM

How To: Photograph Fireworks

Kari Sikorski, a professional family photographer based in Salt Lake City, shares her expert secrets on taking pics of fireworks.

Kari's Tips:
  • The key to photographing fireworks is a long exposure and keeping the camera steady.
  • Use a DSLR for the best results.
  • Use a Tripod
  • Consider using a Remote Release
  • Frame your shot:
  • Scope out the location early – find a good, unobstructed position
  • Find out the direction of the wind
  • Watch your horizons- Vertical or Horizontal?
  • Remember your framing
  • Focal Length- I recommend using a zoom lens. Wide angle or zoomed in… experiment for variety.
  • Switch off your Flash
  • Focus Manually - Set the lens to manual focus and set it to the ∞ (infinity) mark
  • ISO & Aperture- Set your ISO to 100- Set your aperture to f/8.
  • Shutter Speed- Set the shutter speed to Bulb (B) setting. Hit the shutter as the firework is trailing up into the sky, and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (about 1-2 seconds).
  • Experiment and Check Results, Adjust as needed
  • Post-processing - darken the sky for increased contrast

Writing with Sparklers
  • Use a tripod and the same settings as with fireworks.
  • Practice before lighting the sparkler.
  • Instruct your subject to stay as still as possible, only moving their arm to write with the sparkler.
  • Have an assistant light the sparkler and step out of the frame.
  • Instruct your subject to start moving the sparkler when you say GO and press the shutter – release it when they are finished writing.
  • When they are finished writing instruct your subject to stop moving the sparkler so that there isn’t a light trail coming off the word/shape.
  • Experiment and adjust settings as needed for more or less light, and shorter or longer trails from the sparkler.

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