Happy 4th of July America!  The stars were in alignment when the random generator chose ‘nighttime’ for the photo challenge this week.  I was already planning on experimenting with firework photography for the first time, but this gave some extra incentive to play.  Read on for my findings.

Pre-shoot Research

I turned first to my 2 trusty sources for researching new (to me) photography techniques, DPS and the iPhone PhotoCaddy App.  After reading their tips, I felt armed and ready to capture the rocket’s red glare.

Equipment used

$12 Tripod, to steady the camera for the slow shutter speed.  Bonus: at the end of the night, it doubled as a “transformer” to occupy my young nephew

Wireless remote. Not only did this eliminate camera shake, but once I framed my shot I was able to sit back and actually watch the fireworks outside of the camera viewfinder.  And still get pictures.  Genius!

Camera Settings

Focus (manual) and focal length (kit lens zoomed out to 18mm) remained constant throughout shooting, while shutter speed and ISO varied.

Shutter speed – I snapped the entire time on Shutter priority.  Experimented between just under a second

.625  f3.5  18mm  ISO400 S

and up to 5 seconds

5  f4  18mm  ISO100  S

5  f3.5  18mm  ISO100 S

found my favorite to be around 3 seconds

3  f3.5  18mm  ISO400  S

3  f3.5  18mm  ISO100  S

3  f3.5  18mm ISO400 S

ISO–  I varied between 100, 200, and 400.  400 seemed to be a bit grainy when cropping (all images have been cropped)

3  f3.5  18mm  ISO400 S

But anything around 100/200 looked pretty good

3  f3.5  18mm ISO200 S

I found the above settings produced some great shots for single bursts of fireworks.  When multiple bursts (think grand finale) would happen, the image I captured just looked like a bright light in the sky.  No fun light trails.

2.5  f3.5  18mm  ISO400 S

I remembered reading something about a bulb mode, so I went back to photocaddy today to reread their tip – “If you want to capture lots of bursts, you can switch your camera to bulb mode so the shutter stays open as long as you choose. Then, between each burst, cover the lens with a black cloth to prevent too much light getting in.”  Intrigued, and already itching for another fireworks display to test that out …

Overall, I was happy with my equipment and the results of my photos.  Although I took around 60 shots last night, maybe 1/3 of them were “good” ones.  But that’s all you need is one good shot, right?

2.5  f3.5  18mm  ISO200 S

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