Happy Independence Day!  One of my favorite 4th of July activities has always been watching and photographing fireworks.  This week I wanted to share a few quick tips with you so that you can get out there this evening and get some great fireworks shots.



  1. First, always use a tripod.  A tripod is necessary to get the “trails” scene in the accompanying image.  It will also keep the foreground nice and steady.
  2. Use the lowest ISO setting as possible.  If you are using film, use the lowest ISO film you can find (100 or even 50.)  This may seem counter intuitive at first, since generally high ISO film is used for low light situations.  However since you will be making fairly long exposures, high ISO settings will yield too much digital noise or film grain.
  3. To get the best images possible, use your camera’s manual settings.  The f-stop (aperture) controls the brightness of the fireworks, and the shutter speed controls the ambient light and the length of the firework trails.  An exposure of five to ten seconds should yield good results.  The accompanying image was shot at f/5.0 at ISO 100 for a shutter duration of 5 seconds.
  4. When metering, meter of the sky, and underexpose by 1-2 stops.  This will ensure a dark sky.  If your camera doesn’t have a manual setting, you can use the shutter priority mode (TV,) or see if your camera has a special fireworks program mode.  Check your images periodically in your LCD because it generally gets darker as the firework show goes on.
  5. Lastly, make sure to capture some foreground or scenery in your image.  A marina, mountain range, or crowd will go along way towards creating a sense of scale.


This week is the last week to sign up for the Mountain Wildflowers and Waterfalls workshop by visiting www.timothyfaust.com or calling 970-453-4538.

 For a more photography how-to tips, visit www.timothyfaust.com. Timothy Faust is an award winning photojournalist living in Breckenridge Colorado. If you have a photography question you would like to see answered in this column, please send it to questions@timothyfaust.com.  

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