Quick Tips for a Great Fireworks Photo on the Fourth

Jul 4, 2013

Each year, fireworks are synonymous with Fourth of July celebrations across the US. For the thousands of people who will turn into amateur photographers for the night, here are some quick tips on how to get a good shot of the festivities.

Whether you’re using a camera phone, a digital camera or a serious SLR operation, there are a few easy things you can do to snap a good photo.

According to Michael Peres from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s school of photographic arts and sciences, a zoom lens is useful so you can change your shot depending on the size of each explosion.

“Zoom lens is very helpful, I would probably suggest a medium aperture, for example F11 if you have a lens you can set, because surprisingly the fireworks themselves put out quite a bit of light.”

Peres says despite the fireworks being a long way away, the light emitted from the explosions will register on the camera’s sensor quite easily.

“I would probably suggest they rate their sensor, their ISO sensitivity at probably 200 would be a really great place to start. If their camera has something called noise reduction, which is sort of a filtering for digital processors at the camera, that’s a really useful tool for night time pictures where the shutter may be open for several seconds, that can take away the noise and sharpen the result.”

And, he says, a tripod will help you to get a sharper picture.

“I’ve located my camera on the roof of a car, I’ve located my camera on the ground. At one point I got some bird seed and put it into a plastic bag and used the bird seed as a tripod by sitting the camera in that. So people can be kind of creative when they need to be.”

Peres says finding a clear field of vision is a must, especially if you’re downtown with traffic and street lights that could interfere with your shot.

“If they’re downtown and they can see the red, green and yellow lights going for the intersections, that’s not a great place to be because those will interject themselves into the picture and take away from the sky.”

Surprisingly, the one thing you don’t have to worry about when photographing fireworks is timing.

In fact, Peres says trying to time photographs on these occasions is a common mistake.

“If they’re trying to be too precise about it on their very first attempt, or where in the sky the explosion will occur, you’ll kind of miss it. It’s much like being a sports photographer, but the good thing is it’s fun.”

Peres says the beauty of modern technology is that people can see their results instantly and have the freedom to try different things without the previous worry of wasting film.

He says fireworks present the perfect opportunity to have fun with photography and trying new things.