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Have a blast shooting fireworks

July 2, 2011
By Brent Kepner , The Inter-Mountain

Wow! It's the Fourth of July weekend already. Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and photography - what could be more American?

I can't imagine how many pictures will be taken this weekend and I'm here with this week's column to help make sure your holiday pictures are the best they can be.

Since it is the Fourth of July, it would be appropriate to give some advice on photographing fireworks. You are going to be taking pictures of a bright, fast moving light in the dark. How hard could it be? Plenty hard and discouraging if you don't take the proper steps for success.

Article Photos

The first step is to pick a location where you will be getting a good clear view of the fireworks. You don't want power lines or the back of someone's head in the picture.

Camera settings are important, so be familiar with the buttons and menus on your camera. I won't try to give you the exact settings to use because every situation is a little different. But as a general rule, you will be concerned with shutter speed. If you want a crisp, sharp fireworks shot with the action stopped, use a fast shutter speed. If you want to be able to see the movement in the fireworks and the trails of light, you need to use a longer shutter speed. Since long shutter speeds in low light will give you blurry pictures, you will need a solid tripod. The tripod holds the camera still during long exposures and low light to prevent unwanted blurring in your images.

Yes, I know it is a pain to take the tripod and you are afraid of looking like a dork, but nobody will call you a dork when you come home with great pictures. A remote release to trigger your camera without touching the shutter button is another good way to eliminate blur from camera motion. Most small cameras don't have a connection for a release, but all should have a self-timer feature that will also work.

Now start shooting. Be patient and try to time the blasts so your camera fires at the peak of the action. Take lots of shots and expect numerous duds. Start shooting at the beginning of the show, and adjust your settings as you go for the best results. The finale is always a great part of the fireworks show, but a lot of times the accumulated smoke from the previous blasts ruins some great shots.

There you go, it's easy as that. Go ahead and have a blast taking pictures this holiday weekend.

(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer, Certified Professional Photographer and past president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)



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