If you’re headed out to any of the fireworks displays offered in communities and at theme parks this weekend, you might want to take a snapshot or two of the show. Here are five tips for getting the best fireworks photos out of your digital camera:
1. Choose your location wisely. Don’t sit right under the fireworks. You will want to shoot out into the sky, not up into it. Pay attention to your surroundings and what else might be in the photo. Your shots will probably be more interesting if you can show the fireworks with nearby, recognizable buildings or natural features, such as the fireworks photo above.
2. Use a slow shutter speed. Those trails of light you see in the sky are really thousands of tiny sparks. You need a longer shutter speed to capture them falling. Even most point and shoot cameras have a way to check your shutter speed, so consult your user’s manual if you don’t know how. Experiment with various speeds from 3 to 30 seconds, to find what is working best for you.
3. Use a tripod. That long shutter speed means that your camera needs to be held very still for more than just that usual quick click. This is the time to go get one of those cute mini tripods and use it. If you don’t have a tripod. Steady your camera on a table or bench.
4. Lower your ISO. Remember when we used to use “slow” film for outdoor shots and “fast” film for indoors or action? (And if you’re too young to remember that, please don’t e-mail me to rub it in.) That 100 or 400 number on the film box was the ISO, and your digital camera probably has ISO settings that you can change. Lowering your ISO to 50 or 100 will give your fireworks picture better color saturation.
5. Remember they save the best for last. When the show starts, experiment with the right camera settings, your angles and your focus, but don’t run down your battery or use up your memory cards. Remember that the best photographic opportunities at any fireworks show will be during the finale.