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Photography Question 
Charley Andrisano

How to Photograph Fireworks

I have Canon 20D, and want to photograph fireworks on the 4th of July. What lens can you recommend, and what would be the best f.stop, and shutter speed for this type of photography? Also, is ISO 100 ok, or should I use 200, or 400 ISO?< Many thanks,.

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6/23/2006 8:07:21 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Well, Charley, since fireworks are photogaphed at night, that means you're going to have the camera on a tripod. So with that in mind, it's only logical to use the SLOWEST possible ISO you can use. Except with digital I would not use ISO 50 considering you lose a stop in the highlights, and it's a very contrasty situation anyway. OK, so ... tripod, ISO 100. Use pretty much any lens you have, depending on the perspective you want. The apertures I used last year were f/5.6 and f/8. Put the camera on (B)ulb and hold the shutter open with your cable release for about 5-10 seconds, and then review once it pops up on the LCD. These are just starting points, though, you can open up more, or stop down more, depending on how much time you want to hold the shutter open.

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6/23/2006 10:19:59 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Charley;
Ahh, yes, we approach that time of year again. :)

Shooting fireworks is easy in idea, and generally difficult in practice.
Problem #1: The smoke from successive fireworks obscures the next shot somewhat...not much you can do here.
#2: Digital cameras for visual use are not all that great shooting "black" as "noise" is ever present.
A little post processing can usually blacken the sky to a more normal look...and some selective gaussian blur to hide the "noise."
I've shot fireworks for years and actually I'm a little bored of doing it. Not too many angles or vantage points for us. (LOL)...soooooo; I think I'll try for a more thematic approach to the 4th this year; looking for (other) things that capture the essence of Independence Day. :)
All the best.

Editor's Notes: Also check out BetterPhoto's article on the subject: Photographing Fireworks

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6/24/2006 4:29:56 AM

Fred S. MacKenzie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/22/2006
  Hello Charley,

I'm not a pro by any means, but more of an interested hobbyist. I have a couple firework shots from last year in my gallery that I shot with film. I recently purchased a 20d but haven't updated my gallery with new pics yet. Anyway, I read alot here about fireworks and generally found out that the common advice is ISO100 at f-8
( bulb / tripod / cable release ) What I discovered was that my pics washed out too much. Luckily I went to another Firework display later and shot ISO100 at f-11 and I think the pics turned out much better. So, that is where I'm starting this year with my 20d. Start here ( 100/f-11 ) and just check your work. if it doesn't look right, adjust your aperture. Use the first couple to adjust the aperture and focus. Open the shutter just after you hear the shell go off
( launch ) and close the shutter when the firework burns out. Oh yeah, don't zoom too much. Leave enough room to crop because your shots won't be perfectly centered. The fireworks will all be close but certainly not in the exact same spot everytime. Zoom back, sit back with cable in hand and enjoy the show.

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6/28/2006 12:28:13 AM

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