Summertime brings with it long, clear, warm nights and plenty of excuses to set a giant stick of explosives on fire, run away, and photograph the cacophonous and polychromatic results. To get you started, our expert fireworks setter-offer Peter Carlson has some quick tips and tricks.
5. Focus to infinity
This might go without saying, but fireworks are (hopefully) very far away from you and your camera. If they aren’t, please stop reading and correct this error in judgement. We’ll wait.
Now, be sure that your luminous explosions are in focus no matter where they go off by setting your lens focus to infinity and keeping it there. You don’t want to be messing with focusing in the split seconds of brief but awe-inspiring fire power.
4. Stick to smaller apertures
Starting off at around f11 is a good idea. This helps sharpen some of those white-hot details and is also a good idea because you’ll want to…
3. Make a long exposure
You may have fast fingers, but there’s no way you’re gonna snap that starburst at a thirtieth of a second. Bring a tripod and let your lens take in the view for awhile. If you start at f11, pairing that with a 30 second exposure should help you capture those brilliant flashes of unbridled patriotism. But don’t stop there; experiment with longer and longer exposures to capture all the blaze and glory (in case you missed it in the caption, the above river scene was a 12 minute exposure).
2. Use a saturated color film
Like Ektar 100, for example. Sure, you could use a black and white if you really wanted, but then you might miss some of the kaleidoscopic shades of excited metal oxides as they burst into the air and shower down upon the world below, and what fun would that be?
1. Bring beer
Only if you’re legally of age to drink, of course. But if you’re 21 and older, don’t miss this most important step. Trust us on this one.
Go forth and make explosions, people. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.