Quick Snap – Photographing fireworks

So how did you celebrate our nation’s birthday yesterday? July 2, 1776. Yep, you missed it. It was July 2, 1776 when the Continental Congress (reps from the 13 colonies in Philly trying to sort things out) voted to declare independence from England. NOT July 4. Here, let John Adams speak from the grave…

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, (July 2) by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Funny, no mention of tanks, but I digress.

July 4 was the day the boys got together and approved the written version of their declaration so it could be printed and distributed to the 13 colonies for some, well, feedback. Kind of the first tweet, an FYI to the colonies that the poop was about to hit the fan.

And now we celebrate by watching Joey Chestnut gag on hotdogs.

So you might want to get out and photograph fireworks this week, on July 4 or whenever your municipality has decided to blow stuff up.

yay us!

So how do you do it? Well here are five tips.

  1. Remember you are taking photos in low light so you need to hold the camera still. Pros might even use tripods to get the sharpest photos possible. If you are just using your phone though, hold still.
  2. Consider where you are shooting from. Find the best vantage point you can that gives you a clean shot. Also consider buildings or other structures that might be in the shot. For example the Capitol is always cool in a photo, but maybe not your local power company’s 1970s’ brick monstrosity. Oh and these tend to be done over bodies of water, so look for those cool reflections.
  3. TURN OFF your flash. Those little flashes are good for lighting something up that is maybe four feet away. The fireworks should be a few miles away. If not, you might want to put your phone down and run. It’s the little lightning bolt icon. Get it off. Ask for help if necessary, but get it off.
  4. Your camera/phone can’t focus in the dark. Let a few go boom and get the range of where they are exploding and tap the screen and hold it on a lit firework. That should help focus the camera. Then keep aiming in that spot and shooting.
  5. Try timing your shot right after you hear the woomp from the launch. With a little practice you will get the images right as they explode. And remember the big payoff at the end of every fireworks show. Shoot a LOT then. click click click.
  6. Oh and number 6…Put your camera down. Take some shots sure, then put it down and just ENJOY the show. You don’t have to document it. Look around. Every other human is filming and shooting.

We put far too much emphasis these days on recording events. So much so that we forget to just enjoy the event. I know this is hard, but it will be ok if you DO NOT film a fireworks show. Really. Deep breath. It will be fine.

But if you do shoot, use the tips above.

Happy 4th, the day after the day that we declared independence!

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