SonyAlpha330 2:03am, 4 July 2010
Hi guys- just wondering what would be the best mode and camera settings for capturing fireworks tomorrow night with a 330 and a 75-300mm lens. Thanks in advance.
ßobby55 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by ßobby55 (member) 8 years ago
I received this tip sheet just the other day from The Perfect Picture School of Photography . May be of some help.

How to Shoot Fireworks

Secure your camera to your tripod
Use your remote or cable release
Set your camera in manual mode
Set your ISO to 100
Set your exposure to 4 seconds
Set your aperture to f/11
Set your lens to manual and then to infinity focus

So now let's explore these tips a little more in-depth. First, a tripod is a must. With the longer shutter speeds, keeping your camera stable is critical which leads us to also using a remote or cable release. Keeping your hand off the camera is also critical for even the slightest touch can and will render your image blurry or out of focus.

Setting your camera in manual mode allows you to override your cameras metering setting for it will see all that darkness in the sky and try to really lengthen your exposure (maybe 30 seconds) which will then render the fireworks grossly over-exposed and we don't want that so this is why you want to use manual mode.

Keeping your ISO at 100 will give you a much cleaner image with less noise especially since we will have lots of dark or black in our images. Next, setting your exposure to 4 seconds will be just enough time to get the fireworks crisp and bright and depending on the rocket, you may even catch the light trails of it going up.

Next, setting your camera for an aperture of f/11 will allow for very sharp images since you will also need to set your lens into manual mode by first setting the distance to infinity and then switching off auto focus so the lens will not hunt for focus. As far as lens choice you can use telephoto (around 200mm to fill the frame with just the fireworks) or you can go wide (my preference) to capture the experience as well as show perspective.

Lastly, you want to show up a bit early to get a good spot as well as have all your settings locked in (including composition) so once the show begins, you won't be scrambling in the dark and may miss not only getting great shots, but enjoying the show. Remember to also check your results when the show first starts and if the images are too dark, increase your time or reduce your time if they look too over exposed. Alternately, you can also reduce or increase your aperture to get the same effect.

With your skill and a little lady luck, you should come away with some fantastic images and memories of a warm summer night out with friends or family as we celebrate the 4th of July!


BONUS TIP : If your camera has "Bulb" mode (which is when the shutter stays open as long as you hold the shutter release button down) try this technique to get multiple rocket bursts in your image. First, get yourself a fairly large dark pice of paper or cardboard. Next, simply press the shutter release (be sure to hold it down) and expose the scene as you normally would when a rocket is exploding. When the first rocket has exploded, place the paper in front of the lens (be careful not to touch the lens however to avoid shake). When another burst goes up, remove the paper and expose for that explosion. Repeat as often as you like as you effectively "fill" up the sky with the fireworks. I try for only 3-4 explosions per exposure and here luck really comes into play but if you get several that don't explode in the same exact spot the result will be amazing.
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