After photographing fireworks for about 5 years, I decided this year I would enjoy them – from start to finish – without looking through a camera lens…or maybe skip them altogether!
Usually, I attend about three different firework displays each Fourth of July. I love the booms and the sudden bursts of light. It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s a surprise with each explosion!
On the afternoon of the first one, my fireworks photographing friend called and asked if I was going. She and her two girls were going to watch them, without her camera. I think we both we’re over photographing fireworks for a while.
I actually met my friend at a fireworks display. I had found a perfect spot to photograph the fireworks. I sat up my tripod and camera, double checked my settings, and sat back waiting for it to get dark. I noticed, out of the corner of my eye (because who wants to be caught oogling another photographer’s equipment), that there was a tripod and camera just like mine set up next to me.
Being a new photographer, I couldn’t help but wonder what her settings were on. Should I ask her? Would she tell me? Finally, we struck up a conversation, found out we were both fairly new photographers, and shared our limited knowledge of photographing fireworks with each other. The rest, as they say, is history. We became great friends and have photographed many fireworks displays together.
I made it through the first show of the season without my camera. I met my friend and her girls, sat back, and relaxed. We chatted, watched the girls laugh and act silly, and oohed and awed over the bright explosions.
The night of the second fireworks display, I wasn’t even going to go watch, until about twenty minutes before they were set to go off. I just couldn’t resist! I jumped in my car and road around for a few minutes trying to find a spot to watch. I heard the first boom, saw the sparks fly, and, literally, pulled into the first parking lot I came to. It turned out to be a perfect spot, and the bonus was no traffic! Still no camera in hand. Just sat back and marveled at the spontaneous explosions!
I had one more chance to resist the urge to photograph fireworks. The last one was scheduled to go off at 9:15 p.m. It had rained off and on all day, and I thought they might cancel the display. Then just after dusk, it stopped raining. I could hear the pre-show music from my house. The urge was building! This would be the last chance this year to photograph Fourth of July fireworks! Did I really want to miss it? Did I want to look back next year and not find any images of this year’s brightly exploding lights! I could resist no longer!!!
I headed as fast as I could, with my husband in tow, to my favorite spot. I sat up my tripod and camera, checked my settings, and waited for the light show to start! From the beginning, it was thrilling! Listening for the booms, anticipating the location of the explosions, and discovering the array of patterns the bright lights revealed!
I don’t know if it’s the fireworks I love or photography…or maybe, it’s a lot of both. All I know, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t resist! But who can?
This year I focused on using a couple of different techniques to photograph fireworks. I twisted the focus ring, moved the camera from side to side, and used a black piece of cardboard to capture several explosions while the shutter was open (multiple exposures).
I absolutely l-o-v-e fireworks…the bright colors against a dark background, the surprise of the shape when it explodes, the oohs and aahs, even the loud booms. This year I was able to get to see two firework events and would have tried for more if I could. I am amazed at how they can pack the shells in such a way that when they explode they make a specific design. A couple of years ago I saw fireworks that exploded into a smiley face!
The master of fireworks display has to be Disney! Oh, my gosh, they are awesome! We were there for Halloween several years ago and the fireworks were beyond words. You could recognize the face of Mickey and even the wicked witch – all done with sparks in the sky!
Here are some of my favorite fireworks photos that I took this year.
Thanks for making it all the way through!
Let me know if you like fireworks as much as I do.
For those interested in how I got that last shot, I’ll tell you. I set my camera (Nikon D90) on manual with manual focus, manual shutter speed at 4.2 seconds (I used the bulb feature which means that I counted how long to leave the shutter open), ISO 200, and aperture at f11. After I clicked the remote to start taking the shot I turned the lens in and out of focus and then clicked the remote again to stop the shot. I am now in love with this technique for fireworks. I can’t wait until the next 4th of July to try it again!