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Fireworks UK -- a compilation of suggestions from several photographers

redshifted (dpreview, Panasonic forum, 29 June 2004)...

My starting point with the FZ-10 will be manual mode at f8 and 4seconds on a tripod. Manually focus on some bright distant land object. Use a street light, blinking light on a cell tower or lit window about as far away as the fireworks will be exploding from you. F8 at 35mm zoom should give you plenty of focus depth-of-field. Use the wide end of the zoom if you're close and zoom in if you're farther away. You can crop later.

Use early shots in the show to check exposure and focus. Depending on how things look, you can adjust your ISO to 100 to lighten things up or you can open up the aperture.Your exposure time really doesn't have much to do with how bright the fireworks trails will appear. This is controlled by ISO and aperture. The exposure time just determines how long a trail you will get.

If you're using a long exposure time, you may be able to time your exposures by the WHOMP that you feel and hear when the bigger shells are launched. Click your shutter just after the WHOMP of the shell being launched. This won't work if you're farther away.

Try to be upwind so that the smoke and debris from the exploded shells doesn't rain down on you or your exposed lens.

Film advice, but most of it still applies: Smithsonian photographers -- Shooting fireworks : Capture the spectacle

Another read: New York Institute of Photography -- article by Jim Barthman

One more tip: During the Grand Finale, turn around and photograph your group or the crowd's faces illuminated by the glow of the fireworks. This is always a great shot. Automatic settings should work great for this.

{Note -- have a look at Ed's firework photographs. Wow!}

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David Fong 2009-09-04