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More on how to take photos of fireworks

On July 4th, I wrote about how to photograph fireworks then set about to try to get some better photos than I’d captured in the past.

Red Green IMG_0141 The results weren’t as good as I’d hoped. I had trouble finding a good spot, and I didn’t know how to operate my Canon SLR very well in its manual settings.

I had another opportunity to get fireworks photos when Olympia’s community celebration Lakefair ended Sunday with a bang-up fireworks display.

My friend Holly suggested I go to Capitol Lake so that lights from the Lakefair rides would be visible in the photos and so that the fireworks would reflect in the lake.

Good advice. Only, I didn’t start out early enough. By the time I arrived at Capitol Lake, the roads were jammed. Police were directing people up the hill to the Thurston County Courthouse.

Red Yellow IMG_0154 I hiked down the hill, carrying my camera bag, heavy tripod, and folding chair.

I finally found a spot where I could see Lakefair, but noticed a streetlight was nearby. I set up anyway because I was running out of time.

After I set up my tripod, I was upset. I’d left the device that locks the camera to the tripod on my video camera. There was nothing I could do about it. I set my camera on infinity, and set the spature to f4.5. I’d already set the camera at an ISO of 100, which was recommended in the articles I’d read.

When the explosions began, I propped my camera up on the tripod and began snapping away.

White Three IMG_0229 Although I got some good photos, my apature was open too far. Many of my photos were too white. I should have stopped after the first few minutes and readjusted – another recommendation from the articles I’d read. However, I just couldn’t stop shooting photos, it was so much fun.

Then, I had to hike back up the steep hill to my car. I got lucky and a nice family stopped to help me. The dad carried my tripod for me.

When I got home, I went back to the articles I’d read and saw that f8 to f16 is recommended for fireworks.

Experience matters. I’ll try again next year. I’m improving with each fireworks session.

Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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Wow, I think the photos turned out nice. Maybe the same settings would work to take pictures of kids with sparklers. Be careful on those hills!


Hi Lisa,

Thanks for commenting on my photos. They're a definite improvement over my last try.


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